Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed has been nominated co-chair of the Commonwealth Platform for Girls’ Education.
The Platform will be chaired by UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Boris Johnson who described girls’ education as a moral imperative and hailed Kenya for demonstrable efforts towards addressing barriers to girls’ education.
Accepting the nomination, the CS stressed the importance of girls’ education and added that Kenya had stepped up various policy interventions to ensure girls had access to education up to the highest level of their capability and interest.
“In Kenya, we fully agree with the Foreign Secretary that girls’ education is a moral imperative. We also recognized that the education of girls is smart economics, given its potential to transform entire economies,” said Amina.
Kenya’s education CS said that although Kenya has almost achieved gender parity in education, certain factors such as social norms and practices continue to impede the progress in girls’ education.
“Among these key impediments is poverty, female genital mutilation (FGM) which is estimated to affect 21 percent of girls in the 15-49 age group, early marriages with an estimated 23 percent of girls marrying before their 18th birthday, abuse and gender-based violence, long distances to school and lack of hygienic wear for girls,” Mohamed said.
However, she said the government had taken a variety of steps to address these challenges. “Steps that we have taken to address these challenges include policy interventions to ensure readmission of girls who get pregnant while in school, outlawing FGM and introducing rescue centers for girls running away from FGM or early marriages.”
“Other measures include the provision of sanitary towels to girls in public primary schools and the introduction of free primary and secondary education to ensure no child, boy or girl, misses out on education due to poverty,” the CS said.
She further noted that despite these efforts, there is a 10 percent gender gap in the enrolment of girls adding that much more remained to be done.
Amina called for enhanced collaboration between Commonwealth countries in addressing outstanding challenges to girls’ education and said the campaign would help advance the agenda of girls education in the country.
The Platform for Girls is championed by the UK Foreign Secretary and it brings together 12 leading advocates to build political will towards the achievement of ‘the 12 years of quality education for all Girls’ Campaign. The Platform seeks to sustain momentum, influence debate, build political will and report back on delivery of declared commitments during the 2018-2020 period in which the UK will be chair of the Commonwealth.
This article was first published on Capital News by Mark Kamau.