The effect of free primary education on girls enrollment and participation in primary schools of Balambala Division Garissa County
Mariam, Huri I
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In spite of a national aim to achieve Education for All, basic education remains an elusive dream for many Kenyans, particularly girls in arid and semi-arid lands (ASAL). This study explored the effect of Free Primary Education on girls participation and enrollments in primary schools of BalambalaDivision of Garissa County. The study examined the access trends of girls in primary education, retention, completion and dropout rates, performance in national examinations perceptions of community and opinion leaders, teachers, and learners about girls' education and the policies that have been put in place to address girl child education among the marginalized pastoral communities in Kenya. The study investigated how the community of Balambala theorizes gender differences in education, their perceptions of the value of educating girls, the factors they think are influencing the poor performance and enrolments of girls, and their suggestions for solutions. At least 100 household heads were interviewed and 20 key informants to give their views on girls participation in primary schools in the area before and after the introduction of free primary education. The data was then analysed for each group according to the objectives in the research questions and instruments. The findings show that at a theoretical level the two groups interviewed had positive perceptions of girls' education. However, they perceived the important factors hindering girls' education as outside themselves; among these factors are the negative attitudes of the girls' parents and communities, parameters related to patriarchy such as boy-child preference, female genital cutting (FGC), early marriage, and excessive girl-child labour. The main recommendations were community sensitization and mobilization, girls' own actions to pressure their parents to take them to school, provision of all-girls' schools staffed by female teachers, and grants and bursaries for poor bright girls. The governrnent was seen to have an important role to play by enacting policies committing parents to educate all their children and making schools more girl-friendly.The study contributes to understanding the issues involved in girls' education in Balambaladivision and has documented suggestions for the communities' priority areas that are worthy of consideration and implementation.