The project will contribute towards the above aim through: strengthened capacities of girls and boys, parents, community leaders and government officials on girls’ right to education; increased financing opportunities for girls’ education; strengthened capacity of service providers for addressing girls’ sexual and reproductive health needs; improved gender-responsive school environment for girls and boys; strengthened capacity of girls and boys relating to sexual reproductive health and self-protection against violence. We recognize that in most communities, girls suffer disproportionate inequalities with regards to their rights to education.
Whereas there is usually greater parity with enrolment rates, more girls drop out of school and do not transit to secondary schools. The project will work with the duty bearers, communities, girls and boys to address the underlying barriers to girls’ education. This project is not a girls-only project since the aim is to address gender inequalities in education based on the local contexts of the target communities. Rallying all stakeholders as promoters of gender equalities is likely to yield better results than having a girl’s specific project in isolation of the underlying issues.
This proposed project will directly impact over more than 15,000 girls and over 75,000 people over the three years.
Education is not only a human right in itself, but also a primary vehicle for people to raise themselves out of poverty and to gain the ability to participate fully in their communities. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by Kenya, states that all children have a right to good quality education that is effective, relevant, non-discriminatory and culturally appropriate. The Education Act (1968) places the responsibility of education promotion and development on the Minister for Education. The Act provides the legislation and policy framework for the establishment, management and quality assurance of education in Kenya. The national education policy emphasizes the right of every child to education, obliging the government and parents as the key duty bearers to fulfill this right.
The Act emphasizes and promotes equal education opportunities for girls and boys, with the need to address cultural, religious and other forms of biases particularly against girls. However, Kenya’s basic education sector continues to experience gender disparity where girls are more disadvantaged, with major social cultural factors including early child marriage, Female Genital Mutilation and child labour. While household poverty is also a contributing factor, preference of boys’ education compared to that of girls’ by parents and communities is more dominant in deciding who should continue. These social cultural factors impact on girls’ access, participation and transition as illustrated by education statistics.
While national data indicates high rate of gross enrolment (109.8%), the completion rate is lower at 79.5% with evident gender disparity between 75.3% of girls and 85.1% of boys. Poverty at household level continues to be a major factor preventing transition to secondary school, with MOE 2008 data indicating a transition rate of 67.3% for girls. Of those over 30% of girls who drop out post primary school, other main reasons for this include marriage, pregnancy and discrimination against poor girls in the allocation of bursaries from Decentralized Funds Committees. The project aims to address the following barriers to enrolment, transition and completion of quality education for girls:
- Parents’ and guardians’ negative attitudes towards girls’ education
- Low household income – Over 65% of the population in proposed project area are poor.
- High prevalence of HIV and AIDS in Bondo – which contributes to high household poverty and predisposition to child labour.
- High absenteeism by teachers, understaffing and disruption of learning and quality of education for both boys and girls.
- Social cultural beliefs and practices such as female genital mutilation and early marriages.
- Teenage pregnancies due to early sexual debut, early marriages and apathy.
- Unfavorable school environment, including violence in schools, inadequate infrastructure and poor support to children with disabilities (with regard to barrier-free environment and teaching materials and processes).
- Inadequate policy enforcement – there are good policies e.g. re-entry of teenage mothers into school, prohibition of corporal punishment in schools, special allocation for children with disabilities within the Free Primary Education Program, etc. However, as these policies are not disseminated effectively, most parents and children are not aware and this limits their abilities to hold the duty-bearers to account.
- Inadequate distribution of resources, including unequal deployment of teachers, misallocation of resources and poor governance of school development projects and funds.
This project prioritizes three key strategic areas: improving equal access, enhancing quality and strengthening education governance.
The project will specifically seek to address the identified barriers to girls’ right to education through the following key interventions:
- Intergenerational dialogue and awareness on girls’ right to education, social cultural barriers and attitudes towards girls’ education.
- Reflection and action learning to assess education and gender equality policies with government officials – to ascertain their impact on girls’ right to education.
- Participatory analysis/action research on cultural practices and their impact on gender equality in relation to education.
- Capacity building of parent teacher associations, school management committees, rights of children (ROC) clubs on gender and education.
- Mapping and sharing of information on existing financing opportunities for girls’ education.
- Facilitating participatory social audits with a focus on gender equality in education, particularly girls’ right to education and gender responsive learning environments, enrolment, drop-out, transition and performance among boys and girls, attitudes towards girls and boys, etc.
- Advocate and lobby county and national government to disseminate and ensure effective implementation of adolescent reproductive health policy in schools and communities.
- Engage with cultural on gender and reproductive issues and the impact of some cultural practices (female genital mutilation and child marriages) on girls’ rights to education.
- Support peer-to-peer learning and talks on HIV and AIDs and sexual reproductive health among girls and boys.
- Life skills training on interpersonal and psychosocial issues – including self-awareness, self-esteem, coping with emotions, coping with stress and peer pressure resistance, interpersonal relationships, friendship formation and maintenance, peaceful conflict resolution, assertiveness, negotiation, effective communication and empathy, decision making, problem solving and creative thinking.