Gender dimensions in dropout rates at secondary school in siaya county, Western Kenya
This study set out to examine the gender dimensions in dropout rates at secondary school level in Siaya County of Western Kenya. It sought to investigate and identify the key factors that influence school dropout rates of boys and girls in secondary schools in Siaya. The overall objective of the study was to explore the gender dimensions in dropout rates in secondary schools in the County and ascertain factors that influence this dropout. The study was guided by the liberal feminist theory of education. This was a cross-sectional descriptive study. The sample population consisted of 50 male and 50 female dropouts from 31 public secondary schools in the County. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews, direct observation, key informant interviews and narratives and secondary sources. Quantitative data were analysed using the SPSS (version 11.5), and findings presented in tables of frequencies and percentages as well as bar charts. Qualitative data were analysed according to emerging themes and interpreted in relation to the research objectives. Quantitative data were obtained from school records through liaison with school administration and Constituency Education Offices. The study found that as much as gender stereotypes and norms still exist among the Luo community in Siaya County, the community now gives equal opportunity for education to both boys and girls. However, many parents and guardians are unable to pay school fees regularly for their children due to their poor socio-economic status which leads to high dropouts. The study concludes that high poverty levels which result in lack of school fees, early pregnancies, forced repetitions and indiscipline, the impact of HIV and AIDS together with a non-supportive home environment, are key factors that contribute to dropout rate at secondary level education in the County. The study, therefore, recommends the establishment of mechanisms by the County Government to ensure a transparent, fair and gender responsive method of identifying genuine needy cases for allocation of bursaries and also for addressing the many cases of early pregnancies and low value for education which are some of the key drivers of secondary school dropout for both boys and girls in Siaya County.