A study of factors that influence girls participation in primary schools: a case study of Nginyang and Marigat division of Baringo district
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Female education especially at primary level is increasingly being realized to provide immense social and economic benefits for the developing countries. However, participation of girls in education is more often constrained in these countries. As a result, gender gap persists in education despite the research evidence that girls' formal education is the key determinant of women's involvement in development for the above nations. In Kenya, the government is committed to providing primary education to all its citizens. In spite of this commitment, girls, low participation in primary education remains unresolved in some parts of the country. If women in such areas continue to be left out of education and by implication, the mainstream of development, they are not only deprived of opportunities to realize their full potential but also serious inefficiencies in the utilization of the country's resources will persist. Therefore, the main concern of this study was to investigate the factors that influence girls, participation in primary education in Nginyang and Marigat Divisions of Baringo District. To this end, research questions were developed to gather relevant information on family,(home) characteristics, socio-cultural norms and practices, parental perceptions on girls’ education and the school based factors limiting girls' education. The study involved a sample of 130 pupils (77 males and 53 females) from class seven and eight, 10 headteachers (9males and 1 female), a total of 64 teachers (34 males and 30 females) and 20 parents (8males and 12 females). The data was collected through questionnaire administered to pupils, interview with parents and headteachers, and focused Groups Discussions held with selected teachers. The data was then analysed both quantitatively and qualitatively. From the findings of the study, the following emerged as the main factors influencing girls' primary education in the locale of the study: Socio-economic factors including; low level of parental education, disadvantaged employment, limited economic activities due to aridity and impoverishment by incidences of cattle raids specifically in Nginyang Division. Socio-cultural norms and practices such as traditional division of labour which place more burdens on girls, female circumcision (FGM) value attached to bride wealth hence early marriages, and nomadic way of life. Negative parental attitudes towards girls' education. in this case, parents feel that girls are to be married and all benefits to their education go to the husband's family. In addition, high incidences of pregnancies at school, which as perceived, reduced their daughters’ prospects of successful marriage, threaten parents. School based factors including long distances, migrations, lack of essential facilities, gender insensitive practices in school and fewer number of female teachers especially in the schools found in the interior parts of the two divisions. In conclusion, it is noted that the Government provides equal access for boys and girls but their participation differ. Girls are, for most part, at a disadvantage due to a number of home and school based reasons. Particularly in Nginyang Division, girls are the worst affected as compared to Marigat Division. On the basis of the above findings, the study recommends the following: There is need for increased gender sensitization, targeted at parents, teachers, pupils, community leaders, local administrators among others. In this way more awareness of the importance of girls' education may be created. There is need for establishment of projects by the communities assisted by the various agencies as a means of economic empowerment since the area is largely disadvantaged. Due to this, parents may be in a position to invest more in education especially that of girls. Girls should be targeted most for assistance and sponsorship. In addition, there is need for construction of single sex girls' boarding schools and establishment of nomadic school particularly in Nginyang Division in order to improve on the provision of primary education and especially for girls.