The effects of affirmative action in education on enrollment and retention of boys in secondary school in mbita District, Western Kenya
This study was aimed at investigating the effects of affirmative action in education on boys in secondary school in Mbita district. Specifically, the study sought to determine whether the implementation of the affirmative action policy has impacted negatively on the enrollment and retention rates of boys in secondary school, and to determine whether there is need to re-evaluate the implementation of the affirmative action policy in education to enhance gender equality. Purposive sampling was used to select and analyze the enrolment and retention documents for Form I to Form IV for the purpose of content analysis of enrolment and retention documents from five preselected schools within the districtspanningfrom 2006-to 2010. The study findings indicate that there is need for a shift in focus from girl-centred affirtriativeaction to a more inclusive version of the same policy to accommodate the needs of the boy child both in education and in society as a whole. While there is justifiable need to continue the quest to elevate the status of the girl child in matters development, the boy child seems to be slowly slipping through the cracks. Policy interventions are an almost sure way of ensuring the scale does not tip to the disadvantage of either gender. The government of Kenya has taken a step towards achieving this goal by drafting and enforcing the Gender Policy in Education (MOE, 2004) to streamline gender equality in learning institutions. It is still necessary to realize that the plight of the boy child is slowly slipping into the position of the girl child years ago when they were discriminated against. Though one cannot term it discrimination, the trends emerging from the findings of this study strongly suggest that the boy child is feeling the pressure of girl-centred affirmative action. In conclusion, all the stakeholders including policy makers and implementers need to make a conscious effort to address the need for conscious focus on the boy child. Awareness needs to be created to enlighten the implernenters on the basic tenets of affirmative action to avoid over emphasis on either gender as has been the practice for years. In addition, boys and girls need to be involved in the implementation, perhaps even formulation, of the policies that ensure development of gender equity not only in education but in other aspects of development as well. The study recommends that there be action taken to improve the status of the boys in secondary school in Mbita district as well as the community as a whole. Economic and physical infrastructure improvement will first and foremost ensure the sustainability of the access to school fees on the other levies by the guardians and the parents thus easing the need or the burden on the students to drop out of school to pursue income generating activities. Among other recommendations is the maintaining of the boys' schools in the district to ensure accommodation for the male students. If properly implemented, the recommendations will facilitate the increase in the enrolment and retention of students in secondary school in then district and also ensure that girl-centred affirmative action does not sideline the boy child.