Sex and birth order selective underenrolment in the primary schools of Kenya's arid and semi-arid districts and the "kepyiong" phenomenon
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The under-enrolment found in primary schools of Kenya's arid and semi-arid districts is a well documented and persistent problem. After reviewing the initiatives of governmental and non-governmental organizations to encourage full school participation by all eligible children in those districts, and discussing the causes of under-enrolment identified by previous research, this paper presents two additional factors relevant to the explanation of the lamented under-enrolment. It is argued that the higher rates of girls' under-enrolment in upper primaries can be accounted for in part by the concurrence of the mean age of girls in upper primaries with the mean age of marriage for girls of the ethnic groups represented in those schools, and the parents' expectation that girls of upper primary age should stay home where they can be properly socialized into their prospective traditional roles of wives and mothers. Concerning the under-enrolment of boys in the primary schools of the same districts, this paper has shown that a distinctive form of birth-order selectivity - the "kepyiong" phenomenon - does explain some of that under-enrolment. The findings corroborate the recommendation made by earlier researchers and education officers in this country and elsewhere that "mobile schools" and a Training Centre for Nomadic Teachers be set up to ensure that a sizable proportion of children in Kenya's arid and semi-arid districts presently left out of the primary school system may be reached and provided with basic primary education.