Educational Situation of the Kenyan Girl Child.

Wamahiu, S. P., Opondo, F. A., & Nyagah, G. (1992). Educational Situation of the Kenyan Girl Child. The Educational Research Network in Kenya (ERNIKE). Nairobi: UNICEF/ERNESA Collaborative.

This study examined the situation of girls focusing on equality of access, survival, performance and outcomes (including future employment). The data utilized was derived from a comprehensive review of published and gray literature, analysis of unpublished statistical data sets from various government ministries and institutions, and content analysis of newspaper reports. It also integrated findings from a companion qualitative study that recorded the life histories of girls, purposively selected from different provinces in Kenya.

The study concluded that girls in the Kenyan education system continued to under-participate, under-achieve and were consequently under-represented in position of power and authority in public life. Available data did not confirm the official government position that Kenya had almost achieved universal primary education and gender parity at the primary level. The participation of females was consistently lower than that of males as one ascended the education ladder. National statistics masked wide regional disparities in female access: Some districts in the economically advantaged central Kenya actually had more girls than boys enrolled at primary level while the reverse was true in the arid and semi-arid regions. The study noted the lower transition rates for girls than boys from primary to secondary school, fueled by the poorer performance of the former, especially in mathematics and the sciences, limiting the access of girls to higher education and to the more prestigious, remunerative careers.

The authors argued that a patriarchal ideology with its in-built authoritarianism, linked apparently disparate phenomena such as child abuse, violence against women and girls, schoolgirl pregnancies, negative female self-image and lower self esteem to poorer access, survival, performance, educational and career of girls and to the allocation of less resources to girls’ schools and gender insensitive curriculum into one explanatory framework. Myths relating to female ability (and inability) were used not only by men but by women themselves to justify the ideology and maintain the status quo.

The study proposed a raft of recommendations to create a more enabling learning environment for the girl-child, including greater democratization of the school culture.