NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 26 – Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed is Wednesday set to launch a campaign geared towards guaranteeing 12 years of quality education for girls.
The campaign to be launched in Samburu comes against the backdrop of a new report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) recommending improved access to education for girls to reduce poverty in the country.
According to the report published in April this year, an estimated 1.2 million children were reported to have dropped out of school as at 2015 with gender parity recorded at 0.97 and 0.9 in primary and secondary schools respectively.
The gender gap with regards to the enrolment of girls stood at 10 per cent, according to UNICEF.
The information obtained from the Education Management Information System (EMIS) also showed the number of girls dropping out to be significantly high in rural areas where 6 in every 100 girls dropped out compared to 4 out of 100 in urban areas.
“In secondary education, the picture is even bleaker, with wider gender gap in enrolment in ASAL counties – a huge regional disparity,” the UNICEF observed in its report.
A majority of the girls affected were reported to be aged between six to 16 years.
“Gender inequalities become more pronounced through the period of adolescence, and are manifested particularly in the high inequality in girls access to education and the dropout rates from primary seven onwards,” the UNICEF report documented.
The report also showed a huge disparity mainly concentrated in arid and semi-arid land counties of Turkana, Garissa, Mandera, and Wajir.
UNICEF has expressed concern that if measures are not put in place to tame cases of children dropping out of school, more adolescent girls could drop out of school exposing them to the risk of early pregnancy.
According to a UNICEF 2016/17 baseline survey on child marriage, fifteen per cent of girls and women aged 20-24 in Garissa, Wajir, and Migori reported being married before they attained the age of 18.
Projections have shown an estimated 23 per cent of girls have married before their 18th birthday.
According to UNICEF, four out of 10 girls begin childbearing in their early teens.
Another concern raised by UNICEF is high HIV prevalence among adolescent girls with the 2016 Kenya AIDS Response Progressive Report showing 97 adolescent contacted HIV each day.
For instance, 51 per cent of HIV infections recorded in 2015 were attributed to young people aged between 15 and 24, a figure that rose from just 21 per cent in 2013.
According to the report there were 35,776 new infections recorded among the group in 2015 bringing the total of young people living with HIV to 268,586. The report further indicated that a whooping 3,853 youths died of HIV.
Also highlighted in the UNICEF report was the low number of disabled children accessing education, the UN children agency putting the figure at 235,000 out of an estimated 4 million children living with disabilities.
Two weeks ago, celebrated Paralympian Henry Wanyoike called for the adoption of assistive technology to afford children living with disabilities an equal chance in education.
In his message to mark the Day of the African Child on June 16, the award-winning athlete emphasized the need to embrace assistive technologies in the quest to attain inclusion and the well-being of disabled children.
“Lack of Assistive Technology for children with disabilities denies them full participation and inclusion in the society,” Wanyoike intimated.
He urged state and non-state actors to work together to achieve an inclusive society where disabled persons have an equal chance to thrive.