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The dynamics of female access to formal schooling among pastoralist communities in Kenya: A case of Turkana District in northwestern Kenya

Dissertation
Author: Mary Eliza Johannes
Abstract:
On the whole, Kenya has achieved an impressive national literacy rate of 86% for men and 70% for women since gaining independence in 1964. However, regional and gender disparities exist, and of concern are the high dropout rates of girls compared to boys. The national completion rate for girls in primary school is 35%, while it is 55% for boys. The rate is lower in pastoralist districts such as Turkana, where the completion rate for girls stands at 3% and 4% for boys. Of the 35% of girls who complete primary school in Kenya, only 22% go on to secondary school compared to 45% of boys. In Turkana district, the dropout rate is about 94%. Several factors exist for this gender disparity. There is a serious need to address the dropout rate, particularly since education for women and girls correlates with fertility rates, health and nutrition as well as a general wellbeing for the whole family. Special emphasis should be made in education for girls coming from pastoralist communities like Turkana, especially in the prevailing difficult economic times where most families must invest their limited resources in education for their sons at the expense of their daughters. In addition, in regions such as Turkana, the costs of educating the girl child is higher than educating the boy child. Turkana traditions demand that girls be married so that parents collect the dowry, or "bride price." Turkana girls are required to assist with house chores. These duties are demanded less from boys. Although the government of Kenya asserts that educating nomadic pastorals families on the value of education for girls will help increase girls' enrollment in schools, no progress has been made to fulfill their promises. This study outlines the major constraints facing Turkana girls and women in education in Turkana district of Northwestern Kenya and makes an effort to identify ways in which the main problems can be solved. Socio-economic status, cultural issues, education policies and factors related to the school environment as major constraints hindering girls from accessing and retaining are considered. The research established that although the population in Turkana district is evenly distributed between males and females, statistics in education revealed inequalities, with more males in schools than females. Further, males dominated leadership positions, teaching positions and health care positions. In schools where data was collected, the study found that there were no schools where female students out-numbered male students. The environment in Turkana District is harsh, that is, dry, hot, and remote. Those outside the district consider it a "hardship area," which means that it lacks resources and adequate infrastructure. In spite of these disadvantages, the District is expected to compete equally for places and opportunities with other school districts. The trouble with such a policy is that rather than uplifting and implementing policies that benefit these populations in education, the policies of competition instead continue to marginalize the already marginalized students by requiring them to compete for seats in higher classes. In other words, students in Turkana district are measured on the same stick as those who come from more affluent and privileged areas of Kenya. Kenya's higher educational institutions have no affirmative action in place for students from Turkana district and as a result, students from the district, in particular girls, have never had the opportunity to pursue medical studies. Consequently, less than 5 students--all male--from nomadic pastoralist communities have been admitted to medical schools in Kenya and for those who receive such opportunities, their educational takes place outside the district. On the basis of these findings, the researcher recommends the following: (1) Although boarding schools exist in Turkana, they are in very poor conditions. As such, they should be rehabilitated. (2) Schools in Turkana district need to encourage girls to fully participate in classroom and school activities and as such, schools should take every measure to enforce policies on sexual harassment and the use of words and gestures that demean the dignity of schoolgirls. (3) Education cannot be achieved if the importance of it is not realized by the community. Therefore, awareness of the importance of education should be created to assist in this process. Seminars and workshops are some of the ways in which this can be accomplished. (4) All stakeholders need to develop and implement adequate mobile schools with Turkana teachers who are able to provide instruction in the language spoken by the students. (5) Although this may alarm those concerned with assimilation policies, more adequate boarding schools in Turkana district would serve the population well, as they would retain students. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)

viii Table of Contents

List of Tables ................................................................................................................................ xi

List of Abbreviations .................................................................................................................. xii

Map of Kenya ............................................................................................................................. xiii

Map of Kenya’s Main Ethnic Groups ...................................................................................... xiv

Chapter 1 Introduction..................................................................................................................1 Colonialism and Modern Education in African and Kenya ............................................ 4 Development of Education in Africa ................................................................................ 10 Girls’ Education in Sub-Saharan African ....................................................................... 18 Pastoralism in Kenya ......................................................................................................... 22

Chapter 2 The Nature of Primary Education ...........................................................................44 Introduction ........................................................................................................................ 44 Instructional Material Procurement ................................................................................ 51 Summary ............................................................................................................................. 54

Chapter 3 Literature Review ......................................................................................................56 Introduction ........................................................................................................................ 56 Pastoralist Areas in Africa ................................................................................................ 57 Pastoralism in Kenya ......................................................................................................... 59 Turkana Administration and Political Situation ............................................................ 64 Economic Activities in Turkana District ......................................................................... 65 Turkana Education ............................................................................................................ 70 Education Documents ........................................................................................................ 72 Education for Pastoralist Women .................................................................................... 75 Gachathi Report ................................................................................................................. 78 Mackay Report 1981 .......................................................................................................... 82 Wanjigi Report ................................................................................................................... 84 Kamunge Report 1988 ....................................................................................................... 86 Ndegwa Report 1991 .......................................................................................................... 88 Conclusion .......................................................................................................................... 92

Chapter 4 Research Design .........................................................................................................96 Introduction ........................................................................................................................ 96 Critical Ethnography ......................................................................................................... 96 My Position as a Researcher ............................................................................................. 99 Units of Analysis ............................................................................................................... 101 Selecting the Local Context ............................................................................................. 101 Selecting the Day-To-Day Interactions of Residents .................................................... 103 Selection of Research Informers (Women) .................................................................... 104 Selection of Research Informers ..................................................................................... 105

ix Research Consent ............................................................................................................. 106 Data Collection ................................................................................................................. 107 Participant Observation .................................................................................................. 107 Journal Writing ................................................................................................................ 108 Written Documents .......................................................................................................... 109 Interviews.......................................................................................................................... 110 Focus Group Discussion .................................................................................................. 111 Data Analysis Plan ........................................................................................................... 111 Data Analysis Process ...................................................................................................... 113 Ethical Considerations..................................................................................................... 114 Credibility ......................................................................................................................... 114 Transferability.................................................................................................................. 115 Dependability.................................................................................................................... 115 Conformability ................................................................................................................. 116 Limitations of the Study .................................................................................................. 116 Conclusion ........................................................................................................................ 116

Chapter 5 Introduction..............................................................................................................118 Population Statistics ........................................................................................................ 118 Educational Progress in Turkana................................................................................... 119 Access to Formal Schooling ............................................................................................. 120 The Girl Child and Access to Formal Schooling in Turkana ...................................... 123 Comparative Dropout Rate for Girls in Two Urban Zones in Turkana District, Kenya, for 2003 ................................................................................................. 126 Enrollment and Completion of Primary Education ..................................................... 129 Girls’ Access and Retention ............................................................................................ 129 Education for the Disadvantaged ................................................................................... 134 Transport and Communication Infrastructure ............................................................ 136 Location of Schools and Sedentarization ....................................................................... 137 Distance to School ............................................................................................................ 137 Physical Accessibility to Schools ..................................................................................... 139 Secondary School Participation Rates for Turkana District ....................................... 141 Low Retention and Survival Rates ................................................................................. 143 Government Support of Educational Facilities ............................................................. 144 Boarding Facilities ........................................................................................................... 146 Constraints Towards Formal Schooling in Turkana .................................................... 148 Turkana Pastoralists Hindrances to Formal Schooling ............................................... 149 Cultural Stereotypes and Girls’ Access to Formal Schooling in Turkana ................. 150 Sexual Harassment, Prevalence and Impact of HIV/AIDS in Schools ....................... 151 Security and Modern Small Arms and Light Weapons ............................................... 153 Political Interference of Formal Schooling .................................................................... 154 Employment Opportunities............................................................................................. 155 Role Models ...................................................................................................................... 156 Advocacy for Girls ........................................................................................................... 156 The Case of Lodwar Primary School ............................................................................. 160 Mobile Pastoralist Schools in Turkana District ............................................................ 161

x Teachers and Motivation ................................................................................................. 164 Educational Link to Nomadic Cultural Practice .......................................................... 164 Conclusion ........................................................................................................................ 165

Chapter 6 Conclusion and Recommendations ........................................................................166 Objective One: Level of Access and Retention .............................................................. 168 Objective Two: Factors That Impact Access ................................................................. 170 Objective Three: Environmental and Political Constraints ........................................ 171 Objective Four: Advocacy for Girl’s Education ........................................................... 176 Recommendations ............................................................................................................ 177

References ...................................................................................................................................187

Appendix A Ministry of Educational Officials ........................................................................199

Appendix B Head Masters ........................................................................................................200

Appendix C Parents in Lodwar ................................................................................................201

Appendix D Teachers ................................................................................................................203

Appendix E Village Elders ........................................................................................................205

xi List of Tables

Table Page

1 Enrollment in Primary Schools by Gender and Province, 2003 ......................................... 15 2 Number of Public Primary Schools and Classrooms By District From 1999-2003 ........................................................................................................................... 24 3 Number of Students in Primary School By Gender ........................................................... 25 4 Respondents and Their Categories ................................................................................... 119 5 Student’s Enrollment in Kawalase’s Zone (Urban) Primary Schools in May 2003 ...................................................................................................................... 126 6 Student’s Enrollment in Kawalase’s Zone (Urban) Primary School in March 2006 ....................................................................................................................... 127 7 Student’s Enrollment in Kanamkemer’s Zone (Urban) Primary Schools in March 2003 .................................................................................................................. 127 8 Student’s Enrollment in Kanamkemer’s Zone (Urban) Primary School in March 2006 ....................................................................................................................... 128 9 Turkana District Enrollment Summaries for Primary School as of March 2006 ....................................................................................................................... 129 10 2003 Percentage Completing Standard 8 Compared to 1996 Standard 1 Enrollment ........................................................................................................................ 130 11 Retention in Primary School in Turkana District By Gender, 2006: Children Enrolled in a Higher Grade as a Percentage of Children Enrolled in the Years Below ............................................................................. 132 12 Education Access for Disadvantaged Children in Nadirkonyen Children’s Center ............................................................................................................. 135 13 Secondary Schools in Turkana District ............................................................................ 139 14 Actual Distances Between Secondary Schools in Turkana District ................................. 140 15 Secondary School NER for Northern Districts for 2003 and 2007 .................................. 141 16 Dropout Rates Per District in Kenya for 2003 and 2007 ................................................. 143 17 Constraints Towards Formal Schooling in Turkana ......................................................... 148 18 Female and Male Count in Sampled Primary Schools in Order of Schools Size ..................................................................................................................... 157 19 MoE Funded Mobile Schools by District ......................................................................... 163 20 Action Plan for Improving Turkana Girls' Access to Education in Turkana District, Kenya .................................................................................................................. 186

xii List of Abbreviations

ABEK Alternative Basic Education for Karamoja

AGC African Gospel Church

AIC African Inland Church

ALO Arid Lands Organization

ASAL Arid-Semi-Arid Lands

CCF Christian Children’s Fund

CDF Constituency Development Fund

CEDAW Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

DEO District Education Office

ECE Early Childhood Education

EFA Educational for All

HIV/AIDS Human Immune-Deficiency Virus/Acquired Immunity Deficiency Syndrome

KSH Kenyan Shilling Currency

MDGs Millennium Development Goals

MOEST Ministry of Education, Science and Technology

NGO Non-Governmental Organization

NFD Kenya Northern Frontier District

RCEA Reformed Churches of Kenya

xiii Map of Kenya

Courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries, the University of Texas at Austin.

xiv Map of Kenya’s Main Ethnic Groups

Courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries, the University of Texas at Austin.

1 Chapter 1

Introduction Providing education to every child is perhaps the greatest investment that African countries such as Kenya can make for the future. It is for this reason that education has become more or less essential. Modern education has been linked to reducing poverty by providing opportunities for individuals to create a better future for them and to improve the welfare of their communities. As

article 26 of the United Nations charter states, “everyone has a right to education.” Education, therefore, is not a privilege, but the right of every person. The United Nations Declaration states that “elementary education is compulsory.” For primary education to be available to all, the Declaration further notes, “education shall be free, at least in primary and fundamental stages.” In other words, all individuals who are citizens are member countries should have access to primary education free of charge. These member countries were to integrate the goals of compulsory education in their own countries. Kenya, as a signatory to the United Nations, has implemented free primary education in all districts. This study examines how education, specifically free primary education, has been implemented in the Turkana District. My interest in studying pastoralist women’s experiences of education in the Turkana region of Kenya rose largely from my own experiences growing up in South Africa and from spending 6 years in the Great Lakes Region: Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Uganda. Throughout my travels in these countries, I noticed that women were disadvantaged in myriad ways. They were not just marginalized by cultural structures that privileged men, but from other sources as well. For example, if they came from poor families, or from minority ethnic groups, or rural areas, their lives were often extremely

2 harsh. Therefore, in many African societies women suffer from marginalization on a number of different levels. The only hope many of them have for escaping their marginalization is through education, and yet pastoralist women often must confront many obstacles to access an education. The majority of African women, especially those in rural areas such as Turkana, have limited access to formal education. Many factors influence these women’s educational opportunities, including early colonial ideologies of educating male children over female. Cultural norms that favor boys over girls, and economic hardships faced by many African families all contribute to the marginalization of African women, particularly when it comes to pastoralist women accessing modern education. The demands of subsistence economies in Africa place enormous demands on every member of the family, including children. In this regard, African children are often viewed as extra hands when calls for herding, farming, and domestic chores are made. With limited assistance for parents to keep up with domestic and farm responsibilities, mothers and fathers often choose which gender of child to provide education. In most cases, the girl child gets deprived of educational opportunities, remaining at home to assist with domestic chores while the male child enjoys the privileges of modern education. Modernity and tradition work hand in hand as they require parents to choose which child to educate (Sifuna & Chege, 2006). In general, adults in positions of power, from parents to teachers, treat female students differently. Female students are frequently expected to perform at a lower level than their male peers; hence, they are often discouraged from achieving higher levels of academic formation. Even in the choice of courses, they are often herded towards the softer options, as society builds in them negative stereotypes. They are discouraged from taking such courses as math and science on the basis that they will not do well in them. However, perhaps the most effective

3 discouragement is the belief that female students will never use academic skills received from such courses because they will, sooner or later, be married off before completing their primary or secondary school education. Apart from economic considerations, other strains limit female participation and success in schools. These conditions include parental attitudes against what the pastoralist refer to as “the second colonial influence” on their daughters (Ndunda, 1996). Parents often force their daughters to marry young. Emphasis is placed on having numerous children, as this will provide parents economic stability. The amount of time spent in initiation rites and the longing for girls to acquire traditional skills also contribute to girls tendencies to neglect education (Hyde, 1989). As such, a girl’s education is irrelevant to her extended family because it does not bring wealth to the household, particularly to her father. However, dowry, which rural African families offer in exchange for a daughter’s marriage, brings immediate wealth to the girl’s family, and makes her feel valuable to her new community. Girls that are between the ages of 11-25 and are unmarried are considered a burden in their families and communities. They are often regarded solely as another mouth to feed in their father’s house. The male child is considered a good investment when equipped with education, because if he succeeds he will be economically able to assist his parents. Pastoralist women, such as the Turkana of northern Kenya, are treated differently when it comes to accessing social services geared towards economic empowerment than are African women in general. This exclusion creates gendered disparities in education between sedentary African women and pastoralist. Studies have revealed that pastoral women face more marginalization in terms of social, economic, and political representation compared to sedentary communities (Amutabi, 2006).

4 In my personal history, policies of apartheid for blacks in South Africa and economic hardships influenced my early educational opportunities. Furthermore, my being a stranger in the Great Lakes Region also limited my prospect of acquiring modern education, as I was unsupported economically. I lacked school fees, a requirement for attending school in many countries in Africa, such as Rwanda, Burundi, and Kenya, as Education For All policies had not been drafted yet. The political instability of the central African region also played a role in limiting my access to modern education. In addition, limited knowledge of languages spoken in this region also drove me as I struggled to learn Kinya-rwanda and Kirundi, as well as French. My struggles to learn the different languages, as well as my personal struggles to understand, and be understood by, cultures different from my own, motivated me to study the Swahili language so that I could understand the Turkana women’s educational experiences and needs. Writing my consent forms, interview questions, and communicating in a language spoken by my informants provided me with a clear understanding of their struggles of acquiring modern education, and minimized the language barriers that often exists between researchers and their informants. Thus, my ability to conduct research on pastoralist Turkana women and their educational access rests primarily on my ability to understand, in their own language, the level of marginalization that pastoral women face.

Colonialism and Modern Education in African and Kenya Many ethnic groups in Africa have failed to remain in peace with one another since Europeans set foot in Africa. While literature tends to focus on ethnic conflicts in Africa as the main division among populations, it is often overlooked that colonialism played a significant role in dividing Africans, based on skin tones, facial structure, and body morphism, as T. O Ranger

5 pointed out in The Invention of Tradition in Colonial Africa (Hobsbawm, & Ranger, 1983) and is reinforced more strongly by Mamdani (1996) in Citizen and Subject. The colonial project clearly benefited greatly from dividing the people it ruled and by creating and perpetuating differences among African people. This led to the invention of differences, such as the ones in Rwanda and Burundi, where ethnic groups that never existed were created and given physical markers of difference, as was done with the Hutus and Tutsis. Mamdani (2002) explained in his book When Victims Become Killers that this creation of differences was in order to conquer and exploit African populations. Hence, it would be a mistake not to recognize the origin of such divisions, as these identity representations influenced and that continue to impact the ways in which African ethnic groups perceive one another. This scenario, as previously mentioned, is particularly evident in the relationship of Hutus and Tutsis of Rwanda (Mamdani, 1996, 2002). Here, the Belgium colonial administration created conflicts between the two ethnic groups based on the racialization of their physical features (Darder & Torres, 2004). Furthermore, divisions were also created between Batwas (pigmies), pastoralist population of Rwanda, DRC, and Burundi, and the Hutu and Tutsi ethnicities (Mamdani, 1996, 2002). Today, Batwas continue to be excluded from mainstream societies of the Great Lakes Region and are regarded as a backwards people. Such misrepresentations and marginalization of pastoralist populations around the world, and especially in Africa, gave me even more inspiration to conduct research on Turkana pastoralist women and education. The fate of pastoralist societies in Africa is closely linked to the manner in which colonialism as a system of administration and capitalism as a system of economic organization were introduced and organized. Two approaches to the establishment of colonial rule have

6 continued to determine this fate. First, where pastoralist societies occupied arid lands that did not attract agricultural European settlers, establishment of colonial administration and socio- economic infrastructure were not prioritized. Colonial governments marginalized such areas and the people who inhabited these lands. The only reason the colonial governments showed interests was to use the pastoralists as reserve armies against other recalcitrant communities. This scenario is evident among the Turkana of northern Kenya, the Fulani of Nigeria and the Karamojong of Uganda. Consequently, pastoralist areas that fell within the arid zones in most of Africa were marginalized, in terms of the provision of symbols of modernity such as schools, because of their lack of economic usefulness to the colonialists. The second approach was where pastoralist societies such as the Maasai of Kenya occupied lands that were fertile for agriculture. The colonial government in such cases occupied the fertile lands for white settlers. This process forced natives to relocate to arid and semi arid lands (ASAL) that could not sustain their pastoralist lifestyle (Fratkin & Roth, 2005). Ultimately, whether the land they possessed was useful to Colonialists or not, pastoral societies were degraded and were not provided with schools and other social services. In the early parts of the 20th century, European colonial powers arrived in Africa with menacing force. African colonies were established in a particularly frenzied fashion after the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885, attended by seven imperial European powers: Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Portugal, and Spain (Iweriebor, 2002). European expeditions to establish colonies on the African continent followed the decline of the profitability of the slave trade. The eradication of the slave trade coincided with the development of a need for steady supplies of raw materials and markets for Europe’s growing industries. The initial European

7 industrial policy for Africa was developed to establish relations with African societies strictly as suppliers of raw materials and market outlets (Boahen, 1985). The imperative of European industrial production and the capitalistic economic motivation had no tolerance for equal exchange with African societies. Indeed, this one-sided approach to dealings with natives had been a primary drive for European colonization in Africa. Equipped with military technology provided by industrial development and spurred politically by inter-European power struggles for superiority, European imperialists embarked on the colonization of Africa. Despite the resistance that African societies presented them, imperial powers soon overtook most of Africa. From the late 19th and early 20th centuries, European powers imposed colonial domination on all African countries, with the exception of Ethiopia and Liberia (Boahen, 1985). Subsequently, European powers began establishing the political and administrative machinery necessary to facilitate the understanding of colonial objectives, including the exploitation of African resources for European industrial production, economic development, and prosperity (Boahen, 1985). The different colonial administrative systems established in Africa reflected Europe’s national administrative traditions and their imperialistic ideologies. Whatever differences European countries held, they shared the same bureaucratic, authoritarian, colonial state systems. To extract resources and labor, they built the administrative, social, and physical infrastructures required. In return, Africans experienced colonial domination through forced labor, low wages, taxation, land loss, social segregation, racial discrimination, and racist colonial education (Bogonko, 1992). It was these oppressive and exploitative colonial, political, administrative, cultural, and economic policies that led Africans to institute the quest for freedom. The processes of freedom

8 began with the emergence of African nationalism and culminated in the attainment of African independence. Colonial administration had great influence on African traditional institutions as well as political leaders such as Kabaka Mwanga and Kabaka Mutesa I, both of Uganda. Achievement of political independence by African countries, however, did not signal any reprieve to the pastoralist population. Rather, it marked a continuation of the process of exclusion that had been initiated by the colonial governments. The history of post-colonial Africa is full of continued divisive policies, where, instead of total decolonization, the ruling elite decided to embrace colonial attitudes and structures of domination which favored complete segregation of pastoralists. For pastoralist societies, this paradigm was manifested through a continued demand for change. To benefit from formal schooling, they were required to abandon pastoralism and resort to sedentary agriculture. During much of the colonial period, up to the 1980s, encouraging pastoralists to become sedentary was a key component of development thinking (Anderson, 1999). Pastoralism was seen as an irrational, backwards way of life compared to the higher status of sedentary agriculture established by colonialists (Kratli 2000). This paradigm of equating only sedentary agriculture with the possibility for continued development and modernization has remained a common feature of government policies for Africa, including Kenya. In fact, the argument of pastoralists being a less-developed people is often put forward to explain their poor participation in formal schooling. Theoretically, with constrained economic circumstances, it is difficult to provide education to scattered, mobile populations in sparsely populated areas, especially without the urge to participate in formal schooling by pastoralists. Unfortunately, no attempts have been made to understand the historical circumstances through which pastoralists’ interest in formal education became marginal.

9 Like the paradigm of sedentarization, formal schooling for pastoralist societies in Africa has also become a double edge sword affecting their livelihood. While the philosophical conception of education relates to developing one’s individuality, education for pastoralists has been designed not to enhance but to change them. According to Kratli (2000), where there is no convenient provision, pastoralists have to stay near settlements if they desire to have their children attend school. When in schools, children of pastoralists are deliberately introduced to a sedentary lifestyle in the expectation that they will accept the hegemony of the superiority of a sedentary existence. As expected, pastoralists have rejected such designs, and educational provision based on the attempt to sedentarialize pastoralists has failed (Dall, 1993). Education for pastoralist communities has been instrumental in achieving progress towards a variety of ends, most of which are not compatible with their lifestyle. The underlying currents of pastoralist development thinking are reflected in attempts to address logistical problems--use of tents (as in Mongolia), other mobile structures (as in Kenya, Nigeria, and Eritrea with the concept of mobile schools), boarding schools (as in Kenya, Oman, and Mongolia), or no specific provision at all (as in Nigeria; Dyer 2001). The curricula content has also tended to reflect the shift of ideas about knowledge and attitudes that best serves the intended assimilative outcomes of the educational experience. Through these processes, education has directly and indirectly been associated with efforts to persuade pastoralists to abandon pastoralism; yet education also has the possibilities of reforming pastoralism to a modern mode of economic production. In a well argued article, Dyer (2001) raised the issues that confront policy makers who design education programs for pastoralist societies within the context of the global Education for All (EFA) initiatives. These issues are relevant to my study on the Turkana of Kenya in terms of

Full document contains 223 pages
Abstract: On the whole, Kenya has achieved an impressive national literacy rate of 86% for men and 70% for women since gaining independence in 1964. However, regional and gender disparities exist, and of concern are the high dropout rates of girls compared to boys. The national completion rate for girls in primary school is 35%, while it is 55% for boys. The rate is lower in pastoralist districts such as Turkana, where the completion rate for girls stands at 3% and 4% for boys. Of the 35% of girls who complete primary school in Kenya, only 22% go on to secondary school compared to 45% of boys. In Turkana district, the dropout rate is about 94%. Several factors exist for this gender disparity. There is a serious need to address the dropout rate, particularly since education for women and girls correlates with fertility rates, health and nutrition as well as a general wellbeing for the whole family. Special emphasis should be made in education for girls coming from pastoralist communities like Turkana, especially in the prevailing difficult economic times where most families must invest their limited resources in education for their sons at the expense of their daughters. In addition, in regions such as Turkana, the costs of educating the girl child is higher than educating the boy child. Turkana traditions demand that girls be married so that parents collect the dowry, or "bride price." Turkana girls are required to assist with house chores. These duties are demanded less from boys. Although the government of Kenya asserts that educating nomadic pastorals families on the value of education for girls will help increase girls' enrollment in schools, no progress has been made to fulfill their promises. This study outlines the major constraints facing Turkana girls and women in education in Turkana district of Northwestern Kenya and makes an effort to identify ways in which the main problems can be solved. Socio-economic status, cultural issues, education policies and factors related to the school environment as major constraints hindering girls from accessing and retaining are considered. The research established that although the population in Turkana district is evenly distributed between males and females, statistics in education revealed inequalities, with more males in schools than females. Further, males dominated leadership positions, teaching positions and health care positions. In schools where data was collected, the study found that there were no schools where female students out-numbered male students. The environment in Turkana District is harsh, that is, dry, hot, and remote. Those outside the district consider it a "hardship area," which means that it lacks resources and adequate infrastructure. In spite of these disadvantages, the District is expected to compete equally for places and opportunities with other school districts. The trouble with such a policy is that rather than uplifting and implementing policies that benefit these populations in education, the policies of competition instead continue to marginalize the already marginalized students by requiring them to compete for seats in higher classes. In other words, students in Turkana district are measured on the same stick as those who come from more affluent and privileged areas of Kenya. Kenya's higher educational institutions have no affirmative action in place for students from Turkana district and as a result, students from the district, in particular girls, have never had the opportunity to pursue medical studies. Consequently, less than 5 students--all male--from nomadic pastoralist communities have been admitted to medical schools in Kenya and for those who receive such opportunities, their educational takes place outside the district. On the basis of these findings, the researcher recommends the following: (1) Although boarding schools exist in Turkana, they are in very poor conditions. As such, they should be rehabilitated. (2) Schools in Turkana district need to encourage girls to fully participate in classroom and school activities and as such, schools should take every measure to enforce policies on sexual harassment and the use of words and gestures that demean the dignity of schoolgirls. (3) Education cannot be achieved if the importance of it is not realized by the community. Therefore, awareness of the importance of education should be created to assist in this process. Seminars and workshops are some of the ways in which this can be accomplished. (4) All stakeholders need to develop and implement adequate mobile schools with Turkana teachers who are able to provide instruction in the language spoken by the students. (5) Although this may alarm those concerned with assimilation policies, more adequate boarding schools in Turkana district would serve the population well, as they would retain students. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)