Early sexual behaviour and its influence on school participation by pupils in primary schools in Nguutani Division, Kitui County, Kenya.
Simon, Jacinta Wangai
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Human beings are sexual beings. They will therefore exhibit sexual behaviour at different ages in their lives. Primary school children have been engaging in sexual behaviour, an activity inappropriate to their age. Despite the government’s effort (through the Ministry of Education) to integrate health education topics in the curriculum and the teaching of Christian Religious Education (C.R.E) which deals with moral values and guidance and counseling in schools, pupils engage into behaviour such as sexual intercourse amongst themselves and with older persons. This study was therefore investigating what influences pupils to engage in early sexual behaviour. The specific objectives were to determine the extent of engagement in early sexual behaviour by primary school pupils, to establish the factors that influence early sexual behaviour by primary school pupils, to determine how early sexual behaviour influences school attendance by primary school pupils, dropout and academic performance by primary school pupils and to suggest the appropriate strategies that would check on early sexual behaviour by primary school pupils. The study was carried out in seven public primary schools in Nguutani Division in Kitui County. These schools were selected because they have high population compared to the others and they were therefore expected to provide the most appropriate information. Purposive sampling was used to select the respondents who included pupils, teachers and parents. A sample size of 175 pupils, 7 deputy head teachers, 28 assistant teachers and 14 parents were used, making a total of 224 respondents. Descriptive survey design using mainly qualitative methods was used in the study.The study utilized interviews, questionnaires and observation schedule to collect information. The instruments mainly collected primary data, that is, information from the respondents. Data was analyzed thematically and presentation of results was done through frequency distribution tables. The study established that engagement in early sexual behaviour by primary school pupils was evident and that the behaviour is influenced by factors such as peer pressure, poverty, mass media, bad role models and curiosity among others. The study also established that engagement in early sexual behaviour has negative impact in school participation. This was indicated by lateness, truancy, absenteeism and poor academic performance which could lead to school dropout. The study recommends introduction of sex education in primary schools for pupils to learn sexual matters from relevant professionals. It also recommended in servicing teachers on guidance and counseling to enable them deal with the pupils professionally. The study did recommend making all public day primary schools boarding primary schools so as to retain pupils in schools most of the time to minimize their engagement in early sexual behaviour over the weekends.