Factors contributing to gender disparity in education in Kenya: the case of Kimilili-Bungoma District
Masibo, Carolyne N
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The Kenyan education policy does not discriminate against girls and women, but their participation is characterized by manifest disparities. The education of girls and women is one of the most powerful forces of development particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa where social welfare and economic advancement are constrained by rapid population growth and a weakly developed human resource base. In order to design high impact and sustainable strategies, an in-depth descriptive study was undertaken in Kimilili-Bungoma District to establish out of school and in school factors that have contributed to gender disparity in education in the area. This was done with an intention that the research findings would be used to improve the education in the area and also keep girls in schools since their absence from education undermines their potential to contribute to national development. The target population comprised of 10 primary schools both public and private. Out of these, only two schools were single sex, that's boys only, and girls only. Head teachers for each primary school were involved and class teachers for class eight and seven were used to provide information about their pupils. Simple random sampling procedure was used to select students in class eight and seven. Data was collected with the help of questionnaires, observation schedules and document analysis. Data was organized and prepared for analysis by coding and entry in the statistical package for social sciences (SPSS). The findings showed that the drop out rate was generally high among girls. It was quite common among girls in class seven compared to those in class eight. Major reasons cited for dror- outs were social practices, school type and long distance from school. Majority of head teachers re-admit girls after pregnancy. It was also found out that, repetition of classes by pupils helped better the performance of some of the pupils while others dropped out or got demoralized to learn in the same class with their younger siblings. It was also revealed that education is taken seriously by parents, teachers and students themselves. Among major factors affecting girl child participation were, household chores, poverty, cultural beliefs, negative attitude and peer pressure. Head teachers cited factors like, child labor, lack of basic requirements, peer pressure and parental irresponsibility as main factors affecting pupils' participation in education. In the light of these findings, it is recommended that the Government increases it's funding of FPE, employ more female teachers and in partnership with other stakeholders, construct more classrooms/schools, build more toilets and walls. Since the government alone cannot address all these constraints, this calls for a combination of partnerships including NGOs, funding organizations, researchers, community leaders, teachers and parents to ensure a wide range of support that responds to these problems.