The girl child in junior and senior schools will have a reason to smile if the government adopts a proposal to include them in the sanitary pads programme.
This is because the current arrangement largely focuses on a fraction of female learners from low-income households.
This detail is among the proposals put forward by the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms (PWPER).
In their proposed funding for schools under the Competency-Based Curriculum, the team recommends the inclusion of a ‘Dignity Kitty’ to provide for school-going girls who have reached puberty.
If adopted, the government will be required to provide capitation to cover the purchase of sanitary towels for this category of school girls.
The kitty will receive a contribution of Sh270 from the capitation of each learner in junior and senior school for the provision of sanitary products and will be known as the Dignity Kitty.
In junior secondary school, out of the proposed Sh15,043 capitation to be provided by the government, Sh270 from each student will be allocated to support the provision of sanitary towels.
Similarly, in senior school, the government will allocate a total of Sh22,527 for capitation, with Sh270 from the allocation designated for the provision of sanitary towels.
To support girl education, the team has also proposed special consideration for pre-teen and teen mothers in the provision of bursaries and scholarships.
This proposal follows submissions from stakeholders, highlighting the lack of support for teen mothers, which often leads to feelings of isolation, loneliness, stress, and depression.
In 2017, President Uhuru Kenyatta signed an amendment to the Education Act, which mandates the provision of “free, sufficient, and quality sanitary towels” to every girl enrolled in school, as well as the implementation of “a safe and environmentally sound mechanism for disposal.”
However, over the past seven years, this goal has not been fully achieved.
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The report, based on the responses of stakeholders, points out that this is primarily due to the irregular distribution of sanitary towels and inadequate funding, which pose major challenges.
Furthermore, the report reveals that schools are grappling with poor sanitation resulting from the inadequate management of sanitary towel disposal.
This issue is particularly prevalent in informal settlements and arid areas.
According to a 2016 UNESCO report, approximately one in ten schoolgirls in sub-Saharan Africa miss out on attending classes during their menstruation.