UNDERSTANDING OBSTACLES TO EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT: PERSPECTIVES OF POOR, URBAN GIRLS FROM NAIROBI, KENYA

Open Access
Author:
Abuya, Benta A.
Graduate Program:
Educational Theory and Policy
Degree:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
May 10, 2010
Committee Members:
  • Mindy L Kornhaber, Dissertation Advisor
  • Mindy L Kornhaber, Committee Chair
  • David Post, Committee Member
  • Gerald K Letendre, Committee Member
  • Leif Jensen, Committee Member
Keywords:
  • Urban education
  • Secondary education
  • Social construction
Abstract:
This study was guided by two questions: What are the in-school and out-of-school experiences of adolescent girls that are obstacles to their secondary schooling? And why do some urban Kenyan girls persist in school despite the serious challenges, while others do not? Data for this study was obtained by interviewing adolescent girls attending Kamu and Lafama Schools in Nairobi Province, those who had dropped out, and a sample of teachers teaching in the two schools. This study established that the social construction of girls affected their educational attainment. This construction affected the perceptions of others about girls, and how girls viewed themselves. The negative views of girls permeated into the families and influenced the way the parents treated their daughters. The social construction and negative attitudes provided a fertile ground for sexual harassment that plagued the girls in and out of school. In addition, girls worked in the households and outside the households. However, girls’ individual attributes added to their risks of not performing well in school. For those who persisted, one environment compensated for the risks that were present in another environment. For instance, the school cushioned girls from negative events in the households for a sample of girls from Lafama School. Overall, this study shows that the Kenyan Ministry of Education and the Kenyan government, in liaison with school principals still have many options they can explore jointly and individually to alleviate the hindrances affecting girls’ secondary education in disadvantaged settings of Nairobi Province.