Early marriages are responsible for 22 out of every 100 children not in school, a new survey has shown.
The survey by the Ministry of Education highlights the key factors frustrating government efforts to promote access and transition in schools, especially among vulnerable and marginalised communities.
The yet-to-be-released report also lists inadequate teaching staff (13.8 per cent) and early pregnancies (10.3 per cent) as some of the other main reasons hindering children’s access to schooling.
Value of education
The outlawed female genital mutilation (FGM) is responsible for 9.1 per cent of school drop-outs.
The study covered the communities of Ogieks, Sengwer Ajuran/Sakuye Ajuran Makonde, Wakifundi and Waswaka.
The Report on the Vulnerable and Marginalised Groups comes as the government grapples with the problem of low Form One turnouts, especially in marginalised communities.
Among the Ogiek, respondents identified early marriages, truancy and poverty as the major issues preventing children from attending school.
The Sengwer community identified poverty and early marriages as their main causes of school drop-outs.
Early marriages were a major challenge in accessing education among the Sakuye community. The community also identified few teachers in schools and poverty as the impediments to learning in their community.
Among the Ajuran and Makonde, the problem of few teachers and early marriages ranked high.
Poverty was rated the greatest hindrance to children’s learning among the Waswaka and the Wakifundi.
The study, done by the Kenya Primary Education Development (Priede), recommends sensitisation of communities on the value of education to reduce the number of drop-outs.
“There is need to involve the boards of management, religious leaders, local community, the Children’s Department, the Police, county government officials and the entire Ministry of Interior in community sensitisation,” said the study.
It also recommended the creation of more boarding schools in areas inhabited by the marginalised and vulnerable to reduce cases of early marriages and teenage pregnancies.
“There is need for introduction of boarding facilities for girls so as to improve their completion rates,” it said.
The study established that Priede, a government project, had boosted the quality of teaching and learning in many schools.
“However, the communities face various challenges, which may need to be addressed. These include early marriages, female genital mutilation some of which can wipe out the entire benefits accrued from the programme,” the study says.
Under the Priede, marginalised communities had received early grade mathematics (EGM) pupil text bookst.
The study sampled community elders, local administration and religious leaders, members of the schools’ boards of management, head teachers and teachers. Two schools were identified within each community.