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“I kept my pregnancy secret for 7 months,” 15-year-old beneficiary of Magoha’s mop-up exercise narrates

In summary

  • She was in class eight at that time and was in a relationship with her child’s father who is in his twenties.
  • Magogha’s directive led to her being accepted as a day-scholar  at a local boarding school.
  • She sometimes goes to school in an empty stomach, suffers headaches while in class.

Before Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha led the mop-up exercise to her Mukuru Kwa Njenga estate, Yvonne Mwende’s family was just a household like any other. Private, in one of Nairobi’s biggest informal settlements.

She was, however, taken from obscurity to centre stage when CS Magoha, leading the exercise aimed at identifying Form One learners yet to report to schools, paid her a visit in her dim-lit single-roomed house. In an instant, they became the most famous household in the slum area.


The fifteen-year-old girl was one of the candidates who had not joined Form One. What made her story unique was the fact that she is still nursing a four-month-old infant.

Speaking to TV47 Digital, her family reveals how alongside the dilemma of whether she should be a student or a full-time mom, she was staring at a school fees hurdle.

Together with her newborn baby and her younger sister, Mwende depends on her single mom who earns a precarious living as a casual labourer.

According to CS Magoha, Mwende’s situation should not deter her from continuing with her education. The tough-talking CS directed her mother, Virginia Nduko, to take care of Mwende’s child as she starts her secondary education.

In a grand gesture of generosity, the former University of Nairobi (UoN) Vice-Chancellor further promised to take care of her school fees even after leaving his cabinet position next year.

Education Cabinet Secretary CS George Magoha during one of The Mop-Up exercises. PHOTO/COURTESY.

How she learnt of her pregnancy

The short-haired, Form One student narrated to TV47 Digital how she was shocked after receiving the pregnancy results at a local chemist.

She was in class eight at the time and was in a relationship with her child’s father who is in his twenties. It was not until the seventh month that she made the shocking revelation to her mother. After getting a tip-off that Mwende’s mother was searching for him, she reveals that the child’s father fled to avoid prosecution.

ilikua tu siri yetu alafu ikiwa na seven months ndio mom aliulizwa na mama fulani jirani  ni nini shida yangu…akasema hajui..akaambiwa akuje aniulize ndio nikamwambia….[the pregnancy was still a secret but after seven months a curious neighbor asked my mother what my problem was, she asked me and that is when I revealed to her].”

Day scholar in a boarding school

Considering the fact that her son is yet to be weaned, the move to find a nearby neighborhood secondary school seemed like the best option. Magoha’s intervined to ensure that Mwende is admitted to a local boarding school but as a day scholar.

She wakes up at six oclock, prepares herself, nurses the child and leaves for school at 7:19 am. It is until 3:30 pm that she returns home for lactation.

While asked how she juggles motherhood with school, the young, single mom reveals it is not that rosy despite being grateful for the opportunity. She sometimes goes to school in an empty stomach, suffers headaches while in class, and at times gets bored fighting the overwhelming urge to head home to see her son.

…nikiingia tu class me huumwa na kichwa…me huvumilia tu,najikakamuanga husikia tu nmeboeka shule,nikuje tu home nione mtoto…“[at times I suffer headaches as soon as I arrive in class…I persevere and try to work hard…other times I get bored in school and I want to head home to see my child]

The aspiring beautician explained how she catches up with her peers who started classes way before her.

Me hutafuta mwanafunzi  asha soma izo vitu zingine, namwambia anifunze…ananifunza ivo ivo tu [I seek out classmates who have already covered past topics and ask them to teach me].”

She says that she has an arrangement with the school to switch into a full-time boarder in two-months time.

She aspires to complete her studies and score an A in her final national exams.

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