The Impact of Free Primary Education on Participation of Girls in Public Primary Schools. A Case Study of Naivasha Central Zone of Naivasha District
Education is meant to promote human dignity and offers equal opportunities and distribution of wealth. Education is a factor for bringing changes in individuals regardless of gender. Primary school education has remained high in the global agenda for education therefore its importance for economic and social development makes it a basic right for every child. Despite global knowledge about the importance of education to both boys and girls, gender disparity has been noted in enrolment of pupils in schools. Kenya launched a free primary education (FPE) in the year 2003 and the available data reveals that boys are enrolled in larger numbers than girls. The factors that cause this disparity have not been comprehensively reviewed. This study purposed to investigate the impact of FPE on the participation of girls in Naivasha division as well as to identify socio-cultural practices, economic and other factors affecting the girl child enrolment in primary schools in Naivasha. This was a cross-sectional study in which questionnaires were used to collect information on enrolments as well as taking information on factors affecting pupils' education in schools and identify the challenges faced by teachers and parents/guardians in educating the students. In addition, data of enrollments in the different schools was taken from the schools records. The introduction of free primary education saw an increase in number of children enrolled in the sampled schools in Naivasha district by 7.7%. There were no gender disparities in the enrolment and the girls were slightly more than boys; 51% vs. 490/0. A number of factors were identified in this study to contribute to the children missing school; the main factors were schools fees and lack of schools accessories. The main factor that limited girl-children participation was pregnancy. Findings of this study recommends that for the benefits of free primary education to be realized, there is a need to improve socio-economic= status of the parents or guardians responsible for educating children and the FPE should be coupled with free or subsided school accessories like books and uniforms.