Empowering male children for sustainable development in Kenya




The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that every child has a right to primary education and of which should be free. The boy child’s needs and interests have been neglected and marginalised by some educational policies, cultural practices, poverty, and many more factors which tend to subject the boy child to stressful conditions or alienate the boy child from the means of acquiring education, intra-family priorities, and the labour culture in Kenya. When affirmative action gained currency in Kenya, the needs and aspirations of the girl child were prominently amplified by the civil society, donor agencies, and lobby groups who included feminist scholars. This was followed by the concerted effort by the government of Kenya to address the plight of the girl child in Kenya. Today, a lot of attention has been directed to the girl child leaving the boy child quite vulnerable. Most programs in both the public and private sector are focused in improving the welfare of the girl child in education, health, and in the recruitment process.

Hence, this study addresses the plight of the boy child so that adequate effort is made to ensure that he accesses education without due regard to gender affiliations. The boy child of today has become vulnerable physically, mentally and economically. The simplest way to identify past achievements in child development is to observe the behaviour patterns of the current adult population. The rise of male battery in Kenya, the increase in cases of substance abuse amongst the youth, the rise of crime levels, the sharp increase in traffic accidents attributed to human error, the burning of public service vehicles during night hours, and the increase in the number of absent fathers is a reflection of bleeding Kenyan society.

The study contends that the empowerment of the boy child through education to avoid early drop out is quintessential to economic, social and political growth of Kenya as a whole. In general, insufficient government policies, widespread poverty, cultural practices that negate boy child education, partisan focus towards the plight of the girl child has negated the empowerment of the boy child educationally.


The efforts which have been employed since independence to achieve gender parity in education have failed its objectives and manage effectively the empowerment of the boy child in Kenya. In spite of the government effort to enable both the boy child and girl child participation and access to education, there is still a high dropout rate in both primary and secondary levels. In an economic perspective, education is known to be a key determinant of economic growth and premature dropout means loss of potential productivity for the boy child. In an educational perspective, dropout raises the cost of achieving a targeted proportion of the population having some level of schooling (Hanushek, Lavy, and Hitomi 2006). Although drop out may appear insignificant in proportion but it is preponderant among the poor which thereupon turns the wheels of intergenerational transmission of poverty against them. At personal level, dropping out of school will mean consigning one to a future of low-income trajectory and abject poverty. The aim of this study is to identify these governmental policies, personal problems, and societal practices of the Luhya and Iteso communities in Busia County that account for high dropout levels of the boy child’s education. However, the dropout rate across genders has been a perennial problem in the Kenyan education system. Similarly like many parts of Kenya, Busia County has been experiencing a high dropout rate of male students in both primary and secondary schools. This study seeks to investigate the reason for this trend.


The research seeks to answer the following questions:-

  1. What are the school based factors that keep the boy child out of school?
  2. What socio-cultural factors lead to drop out of the boy child in Busia County?
  3. What personal factors lead to boy child drop out from primary and secondary schools?
  4. What are the possible factors of retention of the boy child in schools?
  5. Does performance among the boys affect their dropout rate?
  6. What are the possible policies gaps that encourage boy child drop out from schools?
Read also  Differing historical and sociological views


The main objective of this study is to investigate the factors leading to drop out of the boy child from primary and secondary schools and the role of government in ensuring the boy child is empowered educationally in Busia County.

The principle objectives of this study are:

  1. To determine the school based factors that lead to drop out of the boy child in schools.
  2. To establish socio-cultural factors that lead to drop out of the boy child in schools.
  3. To establish boy child’s personal factors that lead to drop out from schools.
  4. To suggest possible ways of enhancing retention of the boy child in schools.
  5. To establish policy based factors that lead to drop out from schools.


The study is significant in that:-

  1. The research findings and recommendations of the study would assist educational stakeholders, planners and policymakers to:
  1. Identify, test and apply principles for successful achievement of gender balance in enrolment, successful completion of study and transition to the labour market
  2. Promote the value of neutral governmental policies in ensuring both the girl child and the boy child attain their full educational potential
  1. The research would provide information to the government of Kenya and other educational stakeholders on how to expand educational opportunities for both the boy child and girl child
  2. The research will provide information on the role of cultural practices in curtailing or improving boy child education, and ways to reverse a negative trend
  3. The study would be important in its attempt to identify ways that education stakeholders can initiate to enhance community involvement in the development of education in Kenya

1.4 Scope of the Study

The study is to be confined to primary pupils, secondary school students, teachers, head teachers, parents, out-of-school pupils, and county education officials in Busia County.

1.5 Definition of Terms

Drop out – Early withdrawal of pupils and students from primary and secondary schools respectively without completing the required primary or secondary school years and the concerned pupils or students do not enroll back to school again.

Gender – Social and cultural distinctions between men and women where distinctions refer to roles, relations and identities associated with sex. Those roles associated with male are called masculine while those associated with female are called feminine.

Transition – Refers to changing from one state to another. It means the pupils who complete the primary school cycle and move to the secondary school. Once in secondary school, they complete the secondary school cycle and proceed to university.

Schools – Primary and Secondary institutions of learning

2.0 Literature Review

This chapter outlines the literature that is based on studies that have been conducted and are directly or indirectly related to this study.

2.1 boy child education around the world

From 1990, UNESCO has played a key role in making Education for All a priority. This extent, most segments of society have accepted that human rights, good governance and an educated citizenry are the best and strongest in achieving development, economic growth and stability (UNESCO/World Economic Forum, 2008).

2.2 Overview of boy child education in Africa

In 1970s, Tanzania’s successful applicants to public secondary schools represented 11% of primary school leavers but the number dropped to only 1% of primary school leavers in 1984 because Tanzania neither permitted private secondary schools nor expanded public primary schools due to its socialist system. But when Tanzania began licensing private schools in the mid 1980s enrolment grew rapidly and it exceeded the enrolment in public schools. This growth demonstrated the previously unmet demand for secondary education in Tanzania (Word Bank, 1995).

2.3 Overview of boy child education in Kenya

Education in Kenya is still a challenge due to lack of enough facilities to absorb the ever increasing number of pupils who successfully achieve high marks in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examinations. This has resulted in many pupils missing an opportunity to join secondary schools due to inadequate facilities to meet the high demand. An estimated 206,282 (28%) of pupils who sat for KCPE examinations in 2010 did not get a slot to join form one in 2011 because the maximum number of enrolments in secondary had been reached (Daily Nation, January 11th 2011). Although this represents a transition rate of 72 % as compared to the Millennium Development Goals target of 70%, the number of pupils missing to join form one is still very high in Kenya and this includes boys.

Read also  Perceptions Of Parents Towards Children With Disabilities

2.5 Overview of boy child in Busia County

Kingdon in his studies on: “Where has all the bias gone? Detecting gender-bias in the household allocation of education expenditure” found out that the most important factors affecting educational attainment are parental background, wealth, opinions, individual ability, age-at-marriage and the quality of the primary school attended. (Kingdon, 2005)

2.5.1 Personal factors leading to students dropout from school

The concerns of the boy child can cause him to drop out of school. The socialization process in schools will either lead to the integration of the boy child to the education system or feel out of place. According to Wrigley (1995), there is a simple relationship between education and gender equality. Schools act as sites of pervasive gender socialization. Wanyoike (2003) argues that the pupil or student peer groups if not guided well can lead to distressing outcomes like engaging in substance abuse, unprotected sex and bad study habits. This will eventually lead to dropping out of school.

2.5.2 Socio-cultural factors leading to students drop out from school

Social cultural factors leading boy child drop out from primary and secondary schools will be viewed under family set up and beliefs, early marriage and family economic status in both rural and an urban setup will be observed. Family set up and beliefs

According to the World Bank (1996), there are socio-cultural practices that affect the functioning of schools in developing countries. Brown (1980) observed that that some children are withdrawn from schools by parents in rural areas to assist in household chores like babysitting younger children, escorting parents to public functions, ferry water from long distances, caring for the sick relatives, grazing of cattle among others. This eventually affects the performance of the boy child and in most cases lead to drop out. This study will therefore determine the extent in which family set up leads to the boy child drop out of school in Busia County Early Marriage

The problem of early marriage has been considered a problem affecting the girl child alone. There are some traditional practices such as male circumcision and other initiation ceremonies that force the boy child out of school early to start his own family. These factors will be investigated in Busia County to determine whether they are prevalent. Family Economic Status

The situation analysis survey done in Kwale county in 1995 points out that poverty as the most important factor for students dropping out of school (33 %t and 64 %). (Okumu, 1995) Report by the Ministry of Education (2007) indicates that 58% of the Kenyan population is living below the poverty line. This however leads to inability of the poor to meet education cost for their children be it boys or girls. As a result, this becomes a barrier to the education for boys who withdraw from school to engage in informal trade such as “bodaboda” a factor which the study seeks to investigate. Psacharopoulos and Woodhall (1997) further point out that those families that can barely sustain their livelihoods due to abject poverty opt to keep their children out of school and use them as labourers to earn extra income for bare minimum survival.

2.5.3 School based factors leading to boy child drop out from school

The school based factors on the causes of male students drop out from primary and secondary schools will be looked at by observing discrimination, and sexual harassment by fellow pupils or students and teachers.

Read also  Individual Learner Difference In Second Language Acquisition Education Essay

2.5.4 Student discrimination by teachers

Blackmore and Cooksey (1981) explain that when a student is admitted into primary and secondary schools, there are certain routine procedures that take place. The pupil or student is subject to command from the teachers. This study will therefore confirm whether the drop out of male pupils or students is related to discrimination by teachers in Busia County.

2.5.5 Sexual harassment

There has been a growing number of reported cases pupil or student sexual harassment by teachers or fellow students. The Ministry of Education (2007) argued that gender insensitive school environment include attitudes of the key stakeholders in the school leads to many reported incidents of sexual harassment and gender based biases.

2.5.6 Policy based factors leading to boy child drop out from school

According to the Ministry of Education report on KCPE examination registration per county in 2013, there has been a decline in the number of boy child registration in several counties including Bungoma, Nyandarua, and Machakos among others (Ministry of Education, 2013). This study will seek to understand the reasons as to why this trend is emerging.

2.5.7 Theoretical framework

Theoretical frame work used in this study will be based on theories such as rational choice theory and liberal theory. Rational Choice Theory is a framework for understanding and often formally modelling social and economic behaviour. Rational choice theory can help shed light on the motives of influential national, county and local actors and interests groups involved in making education policies in Kenya. This will enhance access, retention and completion rates. It is therefore imperative to adopt rational choice and classical liberalism theories because the both theories will bring out the influences of society and individual decisions that affect the education of the boy. Thus the need to utilize the theories as the study seeks to establish the factors leading to drop out and low boy child empowerment in education in Busia County.


Abagi, O. (1992). Addressing the Gender Gap in Education in an Emerging Democratic Society of Kenya; A paper prepared for the workshop on democratic and democratization in Kenya. Nairobi: Department of foundation Kenyatta University.

Brown, F.B. (1980). A Study of the School Needs. Phidela Kappan. p. 61, 537 – 540.

Borg, W. R. S. & Gall, M.D. (1985) Education Research: An Introduction.4 Ed. NewYork: Longman Publishers.

Fatuma, N.C. &. Sifuna, D.N. (2006) Girls and Women’s Education in Kenya: Gender perspectives and trends. Nairobi: UNESCO.

Hanushek, E., Lav, V., &. Hitomi, K. (2006) Do student care about school quality: Determinants of dropout behaviour in developing countries. NBER Working Paper Cambridge, Massachusetts: National Bureau of Economic Research.

Kingdon, Geeta, 2005. “Where has all the bias gone? Detecting gender-bias in the household allocation of education expenditure,” Economic Development and Cultural Change, Volume 53, pages 409–451.

Mutambai, B. (2005). A Case Study on Teenage Pregnancy: School times: Educational Insight Magazine. Pg. 42

MOE, (2007) Gender Policy in Education. Nairobi: Government Printer.

Psacharopoulos, G., &.Woodhall, M. (1997) Education for Development: An Analysis ofInvestment Choices. Washington: World Bank.

Republic of Kenya, (1989) Totally Integrated Quality Education and Training: Koech report. Nairobi: Government printer.

Sifuna, D.N. (1988). A Study of School Drop Out in Girls High Schools. A case study of Bungoma District in Kenya: Kenya journal of Education Research. Vol. 14 Pg 13 – 142.

UNESCO, (1998) Wasted Opportunities: When Schools Fail: Education for all status. New York: Oxford University Press.

UNESCO, (2003) Gender Education for all: The leap to equality. Paris: UNESCO.

UNESCO, (2005) Give Everyone a Chance to Learn, Education for all. Nairobi: UNESCO.

Wanjiru, N. (2007). Factors Contributing to School Drop Out in Mombasa District. Nairobi

Wanyoike, W. (2003) Understanding Youth and Family: From a Christian Perspective.Nairobi

Wrigley, J.(1995) Education and Gender Equality. London: The palmer press.

World Bank, (1996) Technical Paper No, 303. Washington DC. U.S: World Bank.


Order Now

Order Now

Type of Paper
Number of Pages
(275 words)