In Kenya, where primary education is free, most families often pay for textbooks and uniforms and in some cases teachers’ salaries. These costs and perceived losses make it difficult for families to justify sending a child to school especially the girl child. In communities where girls are expected to marry early, parents do not readily see how education benefits their daughters or the family.
Many children lack access to primary-level education in Kenya. The barriers to education for these out of school children are mostly conflict, poverty, gender-related cultural practices and child/early marriage. These barriers weigh particularly heavily on girls, where gender is one of the main reasons that girls lack access to education. Traditional divisions of labor, gender stereotyping, and early child marriage often mean that, where a choice has to be made, it will be a boy child who is sent to school over a girl child.
This is a true story from Mariam who reveals how Hope in Action Network is making a difference in the lives of many girls in Kenya. My name is Mariam from Migori County “I was so desperate when my parents forced me, to drop out of school so that my brothers could get enough school fees to continue with their education. I was made to take care of my other siblings I had hopes of continuing my education to the highest level possible but this dream was being shut down by my only parents. To the m I was prime for marriage and that it was time I got a suitor who would get them good dowry to enable they educate my brothers. “However, one day as I was running my errands as usual I heard about a forum that was taking placing not far from my home. I asked my parents if I could attend and they agreed. This was the turning point of my life as after the forum I talk to one of the facilitators and requested if she could come and talk to my parents about why it’s important to allow all children have equal education. After a lengthy talk with my parents, they had a change of heart. They both talked and agreed about the importance of education. They now fully support education for all and I am back to school. Thanks to such community forums that are able to reach such rural areas and advocate for education of girls and boys in our area.”
Unequal access to education weakens girl’s abilities to participate fully in society and the economy and to improve their life prospects. Education opens doors of opportunities for young women, especially when they cannot count on family wealth, property, or business connections. Women with more years of schooling are more likely to find employment, own and operate productive farms or firms, and earn higher wages.
Governments, civil society and other organizations need to understand that education is central to a person’s ability to respond to opportunities and challenges that one encounters in life. education contributes to economic development, lowers poverty and inequity, and improves lives. Education yields its greatest benefits in societies undergoing rapid technological, economic, and political changes. It also has the potential to benefit most of the people and communities who have the least in terms of other resources.