The cases of reported truancy are going up across the country even as we celebrate a national average of over 90% school attendance. Several factors have been put forward as the fuel behind the record school attendance in the history Kenya. The country prides itself in the region and all over Africa as a success in providing affordable and universal basic education.
But behind these statistics there is one ugly issue we keep on pushing under the carpet, education of the boy child. Reflecting on my schooling since I were young, the boys my peers had a high chance of falling into truancy compared to girls. Many factors came into play to ensure that the boy is kept out of and away from school.
Being in a rural set up exposed the young boys of my age to all temptations of absconding school. Ranging from arriving to school late after laying traps to capture the quails to drug abuse, the nature of my background only favored the most strong. Many bright boys ended their education unceremoniously due to trapping some seasonal birds that were a delicacy. A quail would fetch between Sh.10-15 depending on who was selling and/or buying. The money accrued would be used to pay to watch movies and to others it would afford them a few rolls of bhang. But mostly the money was used to buy snacks and occasionally woo girls.
The availability of drugs especially bhang, made it even much difficult for many of the boys to continue with their studies. The situation hasn’t changed either. The quails are no longer available due to climatic changes and wanton deforestation but bhang and other drugs still rule my backyard. With as little as fifty bob to spare one is guaranteed of alcohol, a roll of bhang, a sachet of kuber and a bunch of like-minded societal misfits.
And also another factor in which many have not been addressing as a major factor leading to more boys opting out of schooling is the way the society has grown to treat them. The boys are left to grow on their own unmonitored. Unlike the girl child whom every bit of resources are put into her education the boy is left to survive in the system.
The society has left the boy walk away unattended. From parents, teachers, government and religious agencies in education sector to all other stakeholders their energy has been driven to empower the girl child. This has come with an expense that would take a very long time to salvage its damage. The boy child has been ignored at home, at school he has been pushed at the back and at the social arena the girl child has been empowered to annihilate him.
When I glance at the young boys in my backyard, most of them are dropping out between classes four and seven. The girls at the same level of education are leisurely continuing with their education and the society moves on as normal.