Culture and gender discrimination: Kenya’s glass ceiling in education

Culture and gender discrimination: Kenya’s glass ceiling in education

It’s clear that inequality and discrimination in society has deprived a large number of children across the world of access to school. In one obvious example, Kenya’s cultural value has been an obstacle that blocks women from the education system as effectively as poverty. 

The Guardian’s report in July unveiled how educational opportunity has been taken away from girls in Kenya. In Isiolo county, over 1,000 girls were pregnant prematurely, and in turn were customarily stripped of their access to education.

Kenya’s deep-rooted tradition normalizes a young bride being wedded even without her consent with a man much older, prompting numerous issues such as adolescent pregnancy, and restraint in sending girls to school.

According to American non-profit Brookings Institution, only 13 million people in Kenya had completed primary education. Furthermore, over 55% of those who had no education at all were women, which was deeply troubling.

Kenya is only a manifestation of the problem that exists on a much larger scale. Seeing it as an example, leaders and educators around the world agreed that the solution must lie in making the right to education a birth right of every child, and that idea must replace the long-established culture that tends to depreciate education.

Following that, Kenya set up more than 26 “Catchup” centers in Isiolo county to bring girls aged 10-19, who had never had an opportunity to go to school or were forced to drop out, into the education system. They would be given a chance to learn, enhance their literacy skill, and receive primary education. As of now, a total of 1,034 girls have joined the program in Isiolo, and over 4,000 in Garissa, Kilifi, Migori and Kisumu.

Developing fundamental skills among children and teenagers in Kenya is vital to bringing them back into the education system and entering the job market. This program represents an ongoing fight against the old customs in the country, and the impact in the long run is waiting to be seen.





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