On 30th March 2016 morning at Nubian Rights Forum Abdullatif Abu-Bakr walked in Nubian right forum alone wanting help because he did not have a birth certificate, he was fifteen years turning sixteen he carried only a clinic card with no guardian besides him. Abdullatif was met by out paralegal Mariam Hussein. He confided in Mariam that he was sent away from school and he needed to present his birth certificate so that he could register for KCPE. When asked about his parents or guardians who would represent him in the application process, Abdullatif informed us he was raised by his grandmother, and has no idea of the whereabouts of his parents. However, he had a copy of his mother’s identification card. His quest was to apply and get a birth certificate so he can get back to his studies, and at least complete basic education.
It is not unusual to hear of incidences where, due to unavoidable circumstances, children start school late, and therefore being their application process when still in school to avoid beginning application when they are older than 23 years old when applying for an ID. For a Nubian child if one is older than 23, they have to undergo a further stage of vetting DSIC – District Security Investigative Committee, because the committee wants to find out where the individual was before vetting them. Most of the time the youth constantly fail vetting leading to them being 23 without identification cards. Abdullatif’s case was an example of such an incident.
(Chapter 4 of the Kenyan constitution acknowledges education as a basic human right for all individuals. Section 7 of the children’s act states that every child shall be entitled to education, the provision of which shall be the responsibility of the government and the parents. No child should be denied the right to education, because of lack of a birth certificate.)
To begin with we filled the application documents and attached the clinic card and the copy of identification card, however due to thew necessity of presentation of original parent or guardian documents, his case became extremely challenging. With the help of other paralegals, the team communicated with a civil registrar at Bishop House who would help the boy apply for his birth certificate. He was accompanied by our paralegal Mariam, who assisted in the process, and after three attempts, Abdullatif successfully got his birth certificate in 22nd May 2017. Having attained his birth certificate, he was able to resume school, and register for national exams
While Abdul’s case was successful, a majority of youth in the community fail to attain basic education because of lack of trivial documents such as the birth certificate. Children end up paying with their future for what should not be a crime, but rather a gap in the system, and it is unfortunate that such technicalities cause the community its brightest and most promising students.
Abdullatif’s story takes a fast forward to 2018 when he turned 18 years old. He came back to the organization to apply for his identification card and his case was handled by Mariam. Having been to the organization before, he was directed on what documents to carry for the application process. During the elder’s vetting, he was accompanied by his grand mother as a guardian, and was booked for national vetting a month later. The first challenge he experienced following the approval for a national vetting was that his name did not appear in the list and he needed to re-apply for the national vetting. Such mistakes in the systems contribute to youth giving up on following on their documents because the inefficiency of the state will then be blamed on them when the time for vetting finds them at 23 years. After sometime he was vetted and was accompanied by his grandmother as a guardian having sworn an affidavit. The vetting turned out okay and he was allowed to proceed with application for an identification card in 2019.
Currently Abdullatif is still in school, however, when we last communicated with his grandmother, Abdullatif managed to get his identification card and is proceeding with his studies.
This is a win for the Nubian community because here is a success story of a young man who got his birth certificate and identification card at a young age, and can enjoy his right to education without fears of denial of registration because of lack of documents. We wish him the best in his endevours!