‘Beacon Teachers’ keep female students in school.
Kwale County has implemented a number of initiatives to ensure that females who become pregnant at a young age are given a second chance to complete their education.
This includes preparing instructors from various schools to serve as liaisons between the girls and the schools.
They are known as ‘Beacon Teachers,’ and they are in charge of ensuring that the girls continue with their education in accordance with the education policy, which requires that such girls do not drop out of school.
According to Abraham Nyamawi, an education coordinator in Msambweni subcounty, when such cases are reported to education offices, they are referred to the appropriate departments, such as hospitals, to determine the pregnancy.
Following that, they are reported to the police and children’s departments, who take over the cases and guarantee the girls’ educational rights are met.
According to a senior police official who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to police policy, the police rely on village elders, area chiefs, community policing members, and parents to gather information from villages about defilement, GBV, and teen pregnancies throughout the county.
He claims that multi-agency collaboration with the Judiciary, the Education Ministry, and the Children’s Department has resulted in the majority of reported cases being followed up on and justice being served.
According to Nyamawi, in some situations, the courts may determine that the perpetrators be transported to safe places to be away from the perpetrators so that they can continue their education while the legal procedure is ongoing.
However, for many females, returning to the same school where they previously studied may turn out to be yet another nightmare.
“Stigma has been there for girls who get pregnant by fellow students,” Nyamawi asserts.
“Other teachers use students as a bad example as well.” This causes them to miss school. They would rather stay at home to avoid the shame.”
As a result, Beacon Teachers, who have been trained alongside head teachers, are entrusted with maintaining a positive rapport with the children.
This, in turn, will help them feel free to disclose any instances of stigma they have encountered.
They also educate other students and teachers at the school to avoid using derogatory language with pregnant girls in order to avoid making them feel unwanted and causing them to drop out.
“At school, we have guidance and counselling departments, where girls, when they are found to be pregnant, are taken through proper counselling,” he continues.
When girls are hesitant to return to school for fear of being stigmatised, officials always advise them to change schools to guarantee they are in a safe atmosphere.
“We work with schools to get them alternative schools, where we tell the principal why the student is being brought to their school,” Nyamawi explains.
“That way the teacher is aware of the foundation of the girl and should be able to accept and guide her to continue with her education.”
Plan International launched the Beacon Teachers movement in collaboration with Kenya’s Teachers Service Commission.
The goal was to provide instructors with the chance to promote child safety in their classrooms and communities.
The teachers have been educated to recognise, prevent, and report occurrences of child abuse, as well as to educate members of the community on how to keep children safe.
Teachers educate children about their rights and what to do if they are abused as part of their job.