Initiative put in place to ensure girls complete school
About 10,050 girls from three counties in the country are set to benefit from a United Kingdom sponsored initiative that will ensure they complete their full cycle in education.
The girls from Laikipia, Meru and Mombasa counties will benefit from the two year project intended to help increase access, retention and transition rates.
The move follows a survey in the three counties which cited lack of support, poor perception towards girl child education and lack of infrastructure among factors hampering access to quality education.
The survey has been centred on the community, school and intrinsic factors that can either bar or motivate a girl to go to school.
According to the survey, communities are still not responsive or supportive to girl child education and a significant percentage of parents are not economically empowered to ensure that girls stay in school.
“Although a significant percentage of parents in the three counties talked to girls on the importance of education and nine out of every ten go through their report cards, majority did not pay school fees on time,” says Douglas Kombe, a monitoring and Evaluation officer with I Choose Life Organization, which conducted study.
According to Kombe this had adversely affected enrolment figures and undermined retention levels because the most fundamental principle of making sure that girls stay in school is for parents to pay school fees.
The study blames this on poverty with 55 per cent of parents earning less than KSh3,000 per month and thus unable to afford the exorbitant fee charged in schools.
“On average, the amount of school fees required per year in the three counties is close to KSh12,000, which is slightly above government’s recommended threshold of KSh10,265,” Kombe explains.
At the school level, the study established that 46 per cent and 39 per cent of school management committees in both secondary and primary schools respectively had not been trained at all.
“If you have a weak board, then your management will not be able to deliver, teachers will be weak as well and so is the product and service that will be churned out from that particular institution,” notes Kombe. He adds: “Then it will only be a matter of time before they close shop.”
During the survey, it emerged that over 60 per cent of teachers have not received any in-service training over the last 12 months.
According to the study, this translates to the classroom because teachers in such schools are unlikely to take cognisance of whether or not the children are learning.
It notes that 60 per cent of the girls said they would leave school if there are no teachers or teaching is poor.
The study reveals that lack of sanitary towels is the second leading reason why girls would skip or miss school yet this is against a backdrop of only 12 and 36 per cent of primary and secondary schools providing the sanitary towels respectively.
In Mombasa, 20 per cent of the school managers reported that they know girls miss school due to lack of sanitary towels but they have not put in place measures to curb the situation.
At the same time, the report notes that although the Ministry of Education advocates for the readmission of girls who drop out of school due to pregnancy, only a few schools are willing to take in the affected girls.
“While schools were not against readmission of the affected girls, only 63 per cent and 94 per cent of managers in both primary and secondary schools respectively would take in girls after giving birth.
Further, infrastructural facilities in most schools in the three counties are dilapidated which makes the situation even dire.
“The state of schools is deplorable and the school environment is unfriendly to students and most of them would prefer to stay away,” explains Kombe.
The study established that only 10 per cent of secondary schools in the three counties had received funding for infrastructure from the corporate sector.
A total of 1,994 girls were involved in the study which engaged students from class four to class eight and Form one and two respectively.
According to Kombe 55 per cent of girls spoke in favour of life skills as an intervention and a good motivator for them to stay in school while mentorship stood at 59 per cent.
However, the study noted that about 80 per cent of the schools stated that they would have life skills and mentorship programmes for girls and boys as well. The two initiatives were found to be unstructured in most schools and programmes were largely depended on specific teachers.
“If the teacher falls sick or is transferred, then the programme collapses because as much as schools are putting in place mechanisms to motivate the girl and ensure that the girl stays in school, its all dependent on teachers,” explains Kombe.
The study also noted that close to 27 per cent of schools in Meru had a teacher that had been trained by the Ministry of Education on life skills curriculum which means that as much as they have the programme, the training of teachers is still pretty low..