Garissa County government has signed a long term joint work plan with UNICEF Kenya that will see the UN body build the capacity of the assembly members to play their oversight role in order to improve accountability in the area of children rights.
Delivering his speech after the signing ceremony held at the county assembly chambers Wednesday, UNICEF country director Werner Schultink said the partnership with UNICEF will entail supporting drafting of bills and related legislations torching on children rights.
Schultink said over 1.2 million school going children aged between 6 to 13 are out of school despite efforts to retain them in schools adding that 40 percent of these children are from Arid and Semi-Arid (ASAL) counties including Garissa.
“Gross enrollment ratios stand at 40percent for primary and 7 percent for Secondary Schools. This is extremely low compared to national average which stands at 103 percent for primary schools and 63 percent for secondary,” Schultink said.
The UNICEF boss appealed to the county government to consider strengthening the collaboration with the national government to bring back children to school.
He also urged them to allocate more resources to improve quality of Early Childhood Development (ECD) and to take advantage of the gains made from the out of school project sustain ability towards improving education in the county.
Schultink UNICEF has invested sh1.5 billion in Garissa County alone towards the support of the child protection, education, health, water and emergency preparedness and response programmes.
He hailed the devolved system of governance saying it has strengthened local democracy since county assemblies can provide oversight role while population are also consulted in making critical decisions.
“I therefore appeal to you to focus on strengthening performance monitoring to ensure that the resources that are allocated, are spent, and indeed lead to clearly achieving the development targets set by the County Government,” the UNICEF boss said.
Schultink urged the county assembly to formulate the necessary legislations that will protect children from violence, abuse and exploitation particularly during conflicts, drought and flood emergencies.
He challenged the assembly’s women caucus to champion children’s agenda by taking particular actions towards addressing sexual abuse, violence, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), child marriage and children out of school.
On his part the assembly speaker Ibrahim Abass said members will start debating the report in three days’ time.