School based factors influencing girls’ retention in secondary schools; a case of Dadaab refugee camp Garissa county Kenya
Girls’ retention in schools has been found to be a major challenge. Failure to retain girls in secondary schools can be considered as a waste of potential human resources and money spend on them in primary education and time lost in sending them to school in the first place. These girls may become a breed of illiterate women who are less productive economically, socially and politically. They may also turn up in adult literacy classes later. This study was conducted with the aim to investigate school-based factors influencing girls’ retention in secondary schools in Dadaab refugee camp. The research objectives were thus to determine the influence of cost of secondary education, sanitation facilities, female teachers and distance to school on the retention of girls in Dadaab refugee camp. These factors were put in a conceptual framework to demonstrate their relationship with retention of girls. Literature review was conducted on the bases of these variables. The study adopted the classic ecological model of child development as its theoretical framework. The research used descriptive survey design. Using purposive sampling, five secondary schools which had been in existence for at least four years were sampled for this study. The sample size for the study constituted 5 principals, 20 teachers and 122 Form 3 and Form 4 students. The data was collected using three sets of questionnaires for principals, teachers and students. The data collected was analyzed using descriptive statistics in frequency tables, pie charts and bar charts with the help of the Statistical Package for Social Sciences software. The main findings of the study indicated that the cost of education was a major contributor to girls’ drop out hence reducing girls’ retention rates in schools. The findings also indicated that girls missed school during their menstruation because sanitary facilities were inadequate. The study also found that the girls preferred equal number of teachers and in the event that teachers of a certain gender were to be dominant, then girls preferred more female teachers. It was noted that all the female teachers knew of girls who were at risk of leaving school before completing their education. Girls were reported to be more comfortable in company of female teachers. However, most of the schools were male-teachers dominated. As far as distance to school was concerned, most of the students were found to take at least two hours to and from school walking on foot. It was found that girls were mainly faced with challenges of sexual harassment and being bullied by boys on their way to or from school. The study concluded that the schools were not girl-friendly. Various measures were therefore recommended to improve the situation. Construction of more girls’ toilets, recruitment of more female teachers and free provision of stationery and other school supplies are some of the recommendations which were put forward. Further areas of research suggested were; carrying out a study on getting girls safely to school and a feasibility study on starting a boarding school for girls was suggested to be worthy conducting.