KENYA: Girls' Education in Great Danger in the Strife-Torn Kuresoi Area
There is rising concern about girls’ education in the trouble-hit Kuresoi area.
Poverty, low parents’ educational levels, increased insecurity and poor socialisation are hindering successful completion of secondary education by many girls.
While the major general national concern has been the impact of female genital mutilation and early forced marriages, girls in Kuresoi are more under threat of early pregnancies.
One secondary school witnesses at least five girls drop out annually due to pregnancies.
The dropout rate is raising fears over the local perception and the importance attached to educating girls.
Though there is increased advocacy and awareness for girls’ education, Kuresoi calls for more dedication and concerted campaign.
When a Form One girl tops a class of 46 in end of first term examinations, then drops out due to pregnancy, it leaves a devastating negative impact on the entire community.
It is heartbreaking, not only to the parents, but to the teachers as well.
The beginning of this year saw the dropping out of another school’s entire girls’ volleyball team due to pregnancies. No doubt, these were victims of negative peer influence that has dealt a serious blow to the school and the entire community.
But whatever the interpretation, this trend cannot be left to continue.
Kuresoi, a largely remote location, has many parents with little or no education. Since parents are important role models for their children, it is not surprising that most children in the area have been less enthusiastic about higher education.
Besides, the decade and a half history of tribal animosity in the area has caused many children to be orphaned.
This has generated higher stress levels in families due to aggravated poverty levels, which in turn forces many children to abandon school.
The girls are worst affected by financial problems in the family and are normally the first to drop out.
Most day secondary schools in Kuresoi have between five and eight per cent orphan populations.
Such a situation calls for more bursary allocation. Unfortunately, however, this has not been the case.
Other support items such as sanitary towels are out of the reach of the students because they cannot afford them.
It is obvious that socioeconomic status confers numerous advantages. The better a family’s position, the higher the chances of the children acquiring good education.
Increased stress levels are a recipe for dropping out of school as the needs shift and the need for education receives lesser consideration.
With many girls in the last few years having dropped out of school, they have been left with few alternatives but to turn to manual labour for survival.
A talk with the girls and their parents reveals that a great majority dread the prospects for readmission because of stigmatisation.
As we prepare to usher in the Tenth Parliament, I send an appeal to the prospective MPs to give a thought to the girls in Kuresoi in particular.
May they pass appropriate Bills that will change the lives of these miserable lot.
In the meantime, organisations that deal with girls’ issues must step up their efforts in this trouble-hit area.
There is too much pain for the girls in this area to be allowed to continue.
SOURCE: Daily Nation
AUTHOR: Mburu Muthoki
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