Sanitation facilities and its implications on the girl child's participation in public primary education: a case of Thika municipality
Mumbi, Elizabeth M.
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The purpose of this study was to assess girl child access to sanitation facilities in public primary schools in Thika municipality with the aim of recommending intervention measures that would improve girl child access to improved sanitation facilities. This in turn was intended to improve girl child access, retention and completion of primary schools. The ojectives of the study were a) to access the current state of sanitation in public primary schools in Thika municipality, b) to access the suitability of the sanitation facilities to the need of the girl child in the area, c) to evaluate the influence of the existing state of sanitation on girl child access, retention and completion of primary education and d) to determine the factors behind the current state of sanitation in schools in the municipality. The research adopted a descriptive survey design. The target population was all the pupils, teachers and school headteachers from all the 23 public primary schools in Thika municipality. Simple random sampling technique was employed to select 15 schools out of the 23 public primary schools in the municiplity. The study participants were 15 headteachers, 30 teachers (2 per school), and 180 pupils (12 per school). The Quality Assurance and Standard Officer (QASO) and the Public Health Officer (PHO) in charge of Thika municipality also took part in the study. The instruments to be used for data collection included questionnaires and an observation checklist. Data was both qualitative and quantitative. Quantitative data collected was coded and entered into an SPSS programme for analysis. Qualitative data was put under themes consistent with the research objects. The study established that public primary schools in Thika municipality were facing many challenges related to provision of sanitation facilities for the girl child. The schools did not have adequate toilets, with all the schools not fulfiling the ministry of Education recommended toilets ratio of 1:25 for girls. In addition to this, toilets in most of the schools were poorly maintained, with flash toilets having broken cisterns.There inadequacies of toilet papers, sanitary pads and soap. The coping mechanisms used in some of the schools are hazardous, whereby some schools indicated that children answer the call of nature in bushes, which could expose them to diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera and worm infections. Due to lack of toilet papers, pupils used filled exercise books when visiting the toilets, which shows that teachers were not inculcating scholarly discipline, as the exercise books could be useful for revision. There were cases of girls dropping out of school or missing classes due to poor sanitation facilities in schools. Relevant recommendations have been given to policy makers and school administrators. The study recommends that the government should enforce the safety standard guideline by the Ministry of Education for sanitation facilities. In additional the local authorities should maintain the water and sewerage sytem so as they are functional through out. The school administration should ensure cleanliness of the facilities.