A total of 430 pupils in Meru County did not sit the 2019 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams despite having been registered, the Nation has learnt.
Igembe Central leads with 115 pupils, 70 girls and 45 boys, Igembe North came second with 85 candidates, 47 girls and 38 boys who failed to show up while Imenti Central recorded 10 absentees.
Education stakeholders are now worried that if the current trend of pupils dropping out of school is not addressed, it might lead to a crisis in the county.
The high number of dropouts in Igembe Central and Igembe North was attributed to child labour and early pregnancies, with educationists now calling for action to be taken against parents who fail to take responsibility over the education of their children.
County Director of Education Milton Nzioka said the trend is worrying, given that the children who never sat their KCPE examinations will not proceed to secondary schools.
"It is a worrying trend because you find that boys are lured into the miraa trade and boda boda business, which is quite unfortunate. Miraa trade lures boys into easy money since in a day one can easily make Sh1,000 which makes them think education is not important," he told the Nation on Tuesday.
"There is need for serious sensitisation among the people of these areas who should teach their children that education is important even if one has money," Mr Nzioka added.
The figures have jolted the government, with Eastern Regional Commissioner Isaiah Nakoru warning parents who do not take their children to school that they will be dealt with.
"We will not tolerate a situation where children are the ones working in the miraa trade and I have given strict instructions to administrators, including chiefs, to make sure parents of children seen loitering around are arrested," Mr Nakoru said.
He spoke when he addressed the Ameru Professional Association conference at Chuka University Igembe Campus.