, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 4 – The Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) believes that cultural practices played a major role in the dismal performance by girls in last year’s Kenya Certificate Of Secondary (KCSE) examinations.
Executive Director Grace Maina stated that early marriage and female genital mutilation distract girls, reducing their concentration in class.
She also said that they have less time on their hands as they have more chores to do at home as compared to boys.
“A lot of the girls would probably be very hard working but unfortunately their families will expect them to perform other duties over and above the studies that they have to perform in school,” she said.
“Also probably after school, she will have to go home, prepare food for the family, attend other chores, cleaning the house, washing dishes and clothes as opposed to boys who have more time to be able to study.”
Mrs Maina now wants the government to make Secondary School education a must for all girls to ensure they get the best out of the education system.
“All girls should be in school. There is compulsory primary education but now we must seek compulsory Secondary education whereby district officers go from home to home during the day, to ensure that girls are in school and not at home,” she pointed out. “They should also enlighten families about the benefits of educating the girls as well as the boys.”
Many Kenyans expressed disappointment with the underperformance exhibited by girls in the KCSE examinations.
Those interviewed by Capital News attributed the reduced performance to the stigma surrounding girl child education. They feel there\’s an urgent need for girls to change their attitude towards education.
“Maybe their attitude is that they will get married to people with money so they do not need to work hard after all,” said one parent while another stated that many girls face a lot of distractions while in school.
“Girls always seem to be derailed by petty things. They are given everything by their parents so when they are in school, they do not concentrate.”
The top 10 positions in the country were dominated by boys with the first girl coming in at number 11.
Education Minister Sam Ongeri said that the number of female candidates sitting the examination from hospitals had increased from 80 to 114 in 2009 with most of the cases being as a result of girls being sexually molested mostly by their teachers.
He also pointed out that the gender disparity between boys and girls who sat for the KCSE examination was 45.3 to 54.7 percent respectively, a fact he blamed on early marriages especially in North Eastern Province which recorded the highest gap of 47.2 between boys and girls.
Prof Ongeri urged parents and guardians to promote girl education to help create equal opportunities for both boys and girls.
Central Province had the smallest gender difference with boys at 51 percent and girls 49 percent.