Putting girls’ education first in Kenya
January 30, 2020 by Fazle Rabbani, Global Partnership for Education |
3 minutes read

With support from the Global Partnership for Education, the Government of Kenya is making strides in ensuring that all girls – including those living in the poorest and most remote areas of the country - have access to quality education.

Kenya puts human development - particularly education - at the center of its development strategy. The introduction of free primary education in 2003 and free secondary education in 2008, spring boarded Kenya towards remarkable progress in increasing access to education for both girls and boys.

This is illustrated by the significant progress in gross enrollment and completion rates in primary education. In 2011, the completion rate for girls was nearly 73%, slightly lower than boys at 75%. Additionally, the gross enrollment rate for boys and girls was almost equal – at 115% and 114% respectively.

However, these figures mask huge regional disparities in girls’ education – especially in terms of enrollment, retention and completion of basic education. Kenya’s 14 arid and semi-arid land (ASAL) counties - the poorest and most remote in the country - are characterized by low school enrollment and high dropout rates, making them lag behind other regions.

The national average score in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exams was nearly 254 in 2016, while in schools located in ASAL counties it was only 207. Additionally, the national gender parity index was 98% compared to 95% in ASAL schools in the same year.

A school girl in Kenya.
A school girl in Kenya.
PME/Kelley Lynch

Ensuring no girl is left behind

GPE’s two grants worth about US$98 million are supporting - among other initiatives – 4000 schools in the country to improve performance while improving girls’ enrollment and retention. 1,400 of these schools are located in the ASAL counties.

GPE funding is supporting the allocation of school grants to implement activities outline in their improvement plans, developed by school board members in collaboration with the community, which address key education challenges.

Each school receives a US$5,000 grant to support activities included in the plan. These can include the construction of toilets, activities to raise community awareness about the importance of girls’ education, along with volunteer training to keep girls safe on their way to school. Other activities include providing girls with stipends/scholarships, the construction of separate washrooms for boys and girls and collecting household information of girls who are at risk of dropping out to find ways to support them to continuing with their studies.

Ensuring sustainability

Early figures are already showing promising results: girls’ enrollment at grade 1 has increased in all ASAL schools and the assessment of math competencies showed that girls are already outperforming boys in GPE-supported schools.

In an effort to promote sustainability and ensure the long-term impact on gender equity in education, the Government of Kenya has already integrated several of the successful school improvement plans activities within the national budget.

GPE is helping the Government of Kenya address key barriers to gender equality in education so that more girls have a chance to a brighter future, and can make an impact in the lives of their families and communities.

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