Child activists in Migori County now want the law requiring compulsory education to be strictly enforced in the region.
The call by the Kenya Planters and Agriculture Workers Union (KPAWU) department of gender, youth and education at the weekend came even as residents raised the alarm over increased cases of child labour in the area.
Area KPAWU chapter chairman Wilson Obaga urged the government to prosecute parents who he accuse of encouraging minors to work as house helps, herders or sex slaves for income.
Speaking during a forum organised in Awendo town to address numerous issues affecting children in the region, Mr, Obaga reported that children between the age of five and 17 were being recruited as domestic workers, sex workers or manual labourers in mines, sugar plantations, quarries and in the fishing industry.
Some of the children were forced to drop out of school as their parents’ meagre income could not sustain their education.
The chairman noted that such cases of child abuse were rampant in Nyatike gold mines, Awendo sugar belt, Migori towns and in wealthy homes where they were recruited as animal herders in Kuria East Sub County.
We would like to see the government enforcing the law because there is a growing tendency by some parents or guardians to use children for selfish gains, said Obaga.
The official told stakeholders drawn from the government departments, religious leaders and NGOs that he was saddened that many children loitered in the streets of towns and markets in the region and that a big number were also working as domestic servants.
When you ask them why they are out of school, they tell you their parents cannot pay for their education, he added.
Obaga noted the duties assigned to the children were also too heavy as the minors are made to perform tasks that require adult-energy.
He challenged chiefs and other state administrators to ensure that all children were taken to school.
Last week, while addressing a training forum for members of committees protecting children from abuses in Suna West and Suna East sub counties in Migori town, education official Jacob Tol confirmed a dwindling enrolment in upper primary classes due to sharp drop out of school among the pupils.
He explained that the pupil numbers that register in lower classes usually decrease sharply as the learners approaches the upper classes especially among the girls.
He blamed poverty and largely some parents’ I don’t care attitude towards education as a major cause to the vice.
In 2012, the government approved the new Education Bill that warns parents that they risked a jail term of one year or a fine of S00,000 if they did not take their children to school.
Source: Kenya News Agency