Socio-economic, cultural and School Based Factors Affecting the Aspiration for Higher Education of Samburu Girls in Secondary Schools, Samburu District
Lekalgitele, Stephen Mutesa
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Female education is recognized as a critical pathway in promoting social, political and economic development. In Kenya, in spite of the progress made in narrowing the gender gap in education at the primary level, still some parts of the country especially the arid and semi-arid areas record low female participation in primary education leading to a wider difference in secondary and post - secondary institutions. Low girls' participation in secondary and tertiary education in these areas not only deprives them of opportunities but also sustains the gender gap in leadership, business and professional fields. Therefore the purpose of this study was to investigate and identify the socio-economic, cultural and school based factors that affect the aspiration for higher education of Samburu girls in secondary schools in Samburu district. The study also investigated the strategies used by the school administration and stakeholders to tackle the factors that influence girls' aspiration for higher education in Samburu district. This study was guided by feminism theory by utilizing social feminism ideology. According to Adamson, Briskin and Mcphail (1988), social feminist recognized that the exploitation and oppression of women are rooted in the structural of patriarchal capitalist. They believed that sexism is deeply ingrained in the social relation of patriarchal capitalist that a fundamental transformation is necessary to bring a social change. The research was carried out in Samburu district, in Kenya, in Rift Valley Province. Out of the nine secondary schools in the district, the three girls' schools were purposively selected. The study involved 120 girls out of the population of 256 Samburu Secondary schoolgirls, 18 teachers, 3 head teachers and 15 parents. Data was collected through Questionnaires administered to students, interviews with parents and head teachers, focused group discussions with teachers, and previous examination records from 1998-2000. The data obtained from questionnaires and previous examination records was tabulated and analysed using simple descriptive statistic. Data obtained from interviews and focused group discussions was analysed qualitatively in a narrative form. The findings of this study shows that: - - Samburu secondary school girls have educational aspiration, which is not affected by the low level of formal education and economic status of their parents. - Cultural practices such as circumcision, forced marriages, betrothal, pregnancies, and high value attached to bride wealth and the community's negative attitude towards female education affect the aspiration for higher education of Samburu girls in secondary schools. - There are a number of factors operating within the school that affect aspiration for higher education of Samburu girls in secondary school in Samburu district. These include; poor condition of boarding facilities, kitchens, inadequate teaching facilities; lack of libraries, inadequate and ill-equipped laboratories, insufficient reference and text books, lack of female teachers and frequent transfer of teachers. - The school administration and other stakeholders especially the Catholic church, the Christian Children's Fund and the County Council play a major role in tackling some of the socio-economic, cultural and school based factors that affect girls education aspiration. Some of their programmes includes: payment of school fees for girls from poor families, financial assistance extended to schools for maintenance and operation cost, re-admission of girls who drop out due to pregnancies and educating the community through seminars and barazas on the importance of girls' education. Based on the findings, the following recommendations emerged. - The community has to be sensitized through education to abandon those cultural practices like betrothal and forced marriages that inhibits the advancement of girls for higher education. - The government, in collaboration with the non-governmental organizations, should initiate programmes and projects that are sustainable, which should empower the community socially and economically.