Factors affecting girls' participation in primary education in Garissa County, Kenya
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Female education, especially at primary school level, is increasingly being realised to provide immense social and economic benefits for the developing countries. However, the 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 has articulated its commitment to providing Primary Education for all its school age children. In spite of this commitment, low female participation in education remains a draw back to realising an ideal equality and universality of primary education. Garissa District is still lagging behind as far as girls' participation in primary education is concerned. Therefore the objectives of the study were socio-cultural, socio-economic, school based factors and School Management Committees' attitudes affecting girls' participation in Primary Education in Garissa. District. The study adopted descriptive survey research design utilizing both qualitative and quantitative approaches. The population targeted by the study included pupils, teachers, head teachers and members of School Management Committees (SMC) of public primary schools in Garissa District, as well as the District Education Officer. The study used questionnaires, focus group discussions, interview schedules and observation checklist as research tools. The head teachers and pupils were given questionnaires to fill, while focus group discussion was used for teachers. The members of SMC and DEO were subjected to interviews to extract information relevant to the study. The researcher carried out piloting of the research instruments in a few selected schools to establish their validity and reliability before the actual administration. Quantitative data was analyzed using descriptive statistics that included the mean, mode and percentages. Qualitative data was analyzed through thematic discussion and triangulation for comparison of related information emanating from different respondents, and explaining the similarity or difference in views. Data of both types were presented in the form of tables and Excel computer program used to draw graphs for clearer view. Quranic education was found to be one of the major drawbacks of female participation in primary education, since more preference is given to Quranic schools than secular education. Socio-cultural practices such as female circumcision was also found to play a major role in reducing female participation in education. Most girls as well as the society at large view girls who had undergone the ritual as ready for marriage. This reduced female's concentration in their studies. The study recommends that the community in the study locale should be sensitized on the importance of educating girls and treating children of both genders equally. Further, more boarding schools should be constructed in order to cushion the girls from the nomadic way of life that is the way of life of their community. Girls are usually extracted from school whenever their parents shift from one place, thereby greatly affecting their studies, some of who never go back to school.