Declining Girl-Child Completion Rates a Worry in Kirinyaga Day Schools
Stakeholders of education have been urged to unite efforts in campaigns to improve the declining girl-child school completion rates in public-day mixed secondary schools in the rural parts of Kirinyaga County.
Even though girls in secondary schools in the county have improved, research findings have revealed that there is a weakness in keeping girls in school in most of the rural mixed-day schools.
Parents have been urged to follow up on cases of dropouts and act as role models in order to enhance retention and completion rates by the girl-child in rural secondary schools.
According to research done by Kaguma Veronica Wanjiku, an education management expert on Policy and Curriculum Studies at Kenyatta University, bursaries and scholarships, among other things, can be used as a way of improving girls’ education in secondary schools.
The research also suggested that the existing bursary and infrastructure upgrading by the Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) need to be strengthened from the Ward Level in the county.
It was further suggested that policymakers in the education fraternity should enforce regulations that govern the re-entry of girls into school after dropping out for pregnancy and other reasons.
Despite the availability of these policies, bureaucracies in the government have been doing little to take the girl-child back to school.
The research’s respondents strongly suggested that parents should be fully involved in the academic and social lives of the girl-child. For instance, they can reduce domestic chores to create time to study for them.
According to Wanjiku, improved civic education importance of girl-child education is also important in ensuring girls can complete their education.
The scholar said that while teachers should be motivated better, it emerged that the creation of one-gender schools and the building of boarding schools had been known to improve the retention of girls in schools.
“Parents and guardians should always motivate girls to go to school and maintain attendance, pay fees in time to avoid frequent absence, provide sanitary pads, offer guidance and counselling, provide learning resources, treat all children equitably, and provide adequate meals at home and participate in school activities as well as enforce discipline ins schools,” said Wanjiku.
Wanjiku also said that role models play a crucial part in encouraging girls to concentrate on their studies to completion, an effort that can be accomplished via female guest speakers.
She also said that teachers should be the first and key role models as more are sought from outstanding students from mixed-day settings and those attending neighbouring schools.
In addition, there is a need to expose teachers to the needs of the girl-child in seminars and workshops even as school administrators are trying to assist them to acquire better teaching methodologies, employing more teachers to meet teaching shortfalls and accommodating girls within the compound.
Levies charged in secondary schools were also another item mentioned that played a role in the low retention of female learners in mixed-day secondary schools with the research’s respondents suggesting that they should be more affordable and schools should avoid sending girls home frequently over fees arrears.
School administrators of mixed-day secondary schools were also advised to consider starting income-generating activities to reduce the financial burden on parents, cutting down on luxuries such as expensive meals and unnecessary school tours. Parents should also be informed in advance in case there are any changes in the school system.
Wanjiku also suggested that extra-curricular activities be used in schools as they enhance retention of the girl child in schools. This is because they promote social interaction.
Some of these extra-curricular activities include dancing, singing, sporting, drama, handiwork and debating which should be utilized strategically to enhance girl-child completion of secondary education.
Girl-child welfare services including provision of meals, availing personal effects such as body lotion, shoe polish and neat uniforms, and transport to schools are good motivators or learners to remain in school.
Other issues that should be looked into are academic performance, interpersonal relations, discipline, adolescent morality, drug abuse and sexual harassment.
The launching of practical guidance and counselling services through campaigns has been suggested as they can help girls realize their potential through setting goals.
Headteachers were also advised to take advantage of the various strategies when the girl-child is available and is psychologically prepared and ready to learn.
Poverty, negative attitudes to the girl-child and ineffective government policies are some of the challenges that head teachers are facing in the promotion of girl-child completion of secondary education.
Wanjiku suggested that parents should consider equitably investing in higher education for both girls and boys because this promotes the realization of the goal of education for all and the elimination of illiteracy among all Kenyans.
If the girl-child is educated well, this can enhance their general understanding of health issues at the family level because educated mothers would foster healthy families, better life and a conducive academic atmosphere due to the high levels of awareness.
On the other hand, the government was also asked to increase funding to schools to reduce the impact of poverty and employ more teachers to increase the chances of girls completing their education.