|Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi (left), NTA Eastern Coordinator Annah Katuki (centre) and NTA chairperson Peter Kubebea during the launch of the report Wednesday. [PHOTO: DAVID NJAAGA/STANDARD]|
BY AUGUSTINE ODUOR
NAIROBI, KENYA: A new report paints a grim picture of the Free Primary Education (FPE) with increased dropout rates and a rising proportion of boys’ marginalisation in education.
Also highlighted are the worrying trends of absenteeism, decline of parents’ involvement in their children’s education and insufficient funding, all of which threaten the quality of education in public primary schools.
The survey by the National Taxpayers Association (NTA) reveals that more than one million pupils are currently out of school and recommends efforts to bring them back to class.
The report says the majority of these are boys and warns over the rising neglect of the boy child.
“The challenge we have now is to bring all these children to school and retain them. We need to address child labour in the various regions where it is more pronounced,” said NTA National Chairman Peter Kubebea.
Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi said efforts were being made to ensure all children are enrolled and kept in school.
“It is now in law that all parents must enrol their children in schools, failure to which they can be taken to court,” he said.
He said enrolment in public schools currently stands at over 10 million, up from 5.9 million in 2003 when FPE was launched.
But the new concern is the increasing marginalisation of the boy child even as the girl child continues to get rising support.
The report, School Report Card 2013 records baseline data indicating a descending trend in dropouts between 2009 and 2013.
“However, the overall drop-out rate from the school system (from class one to eight) in 2013 was 3 per cent and these incidences are higher amongst boys compared to girls,” says the report.
Prof Kaimenyi termed the findings on boy child marginalisation “worrying”.
“Our boys are getting more shy and inferior because the girls are getting more attention yet the Education Act requires all children to be treated equally and enrolled in school,” said the CS while launching the report at a Nairobi hotel.
The report indicates that the drop-out rates last year alone in the sampled counties stood at 3.3 per cent among boys compared to 2.5 per cent for the girls.
“Most children drop out in upper classes between grade four and seven,” reads the report.
Some 2,023 schools were surveyed in 23 counties. Some 9,844 girls dropped out last year compared to 13,210 boys in these counties alone.
Kaimenyi said County Education Boards had been instructed to ensure all children are in school.
“We are also empowering the school management boards and committees to play their roles and ensure that both boys and girls are empowered and none is marginalised,” he said.
Among these counties, Taita -Taveta had the highest rate of drop outs at 17 per cent. Most of the cases were reported in Class Eight.
“Literature review points at the robust campaign focusing on girl child education which as a result pay minimal or no attention to boys,” notes the report. The report also blames the mining industry and ranches, which it says lure boys to work as miners and herdsboys respectively.
Elgeyo Marakwet and Kajiado recorded the lowest drop-out ratio for boys.