Kenya school girls to benefit from GPE $11m Covid-19 grant

School girls are among the main beneficiaries of Kenya’s US$11 million Covid-19 grant, awarded by the Global Partnership for Education (GPE).

In a virtual 5th High Level Dialogue (HLD) on Gender in Education, President Uhuru Kenyatta said the grant would be used, among other interventions, to ensure the security and safety of all students, especially girls, during school closures.

Prof. Margaret Kobia, Cabinet Secretary for Gender and Public Service, read his speech during the February 2 meeting held by African Union International Centre for Girls’ and Women’s Education in Africa.

According to Nation Africa, the GPE website states that the 2020-2021 grant will also fund mentoring programs for children, particularly those with special needs and disabilities, alongside collaboration for teachers, parents, and students on gender-based violence prevention.

Mr. Kenyatta acknowledged the importance of ending cultural practices in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) education and professions that discourage girls and women from advancing.

“We must now take deliberate action to address the patriarchal and socio-cultural factors…that have remained a hindrance to realisation of an equitable and gender balanced society,” he explained during the meeting held under the theme “Leveraging Arts and Culture to Increase Girls’ and Women’s Participation in Stem Education”

He said African countries can build an enabling atmosphere with technology where every boy and girl can capitalize on their potential.

Through his government initiatives, including free maternity care, the provision of sanitary towels for school girls, the re-entry program for teenage mothers and pregnant teens, and the introduction of a multi-agency system to accelerate the fight against female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage, the President said progress has been made towards achieving gender equality.

He reiterated that educating girls is critical as it leads to better health, reduced maternal mortality and poverty.

He said the government is systematically removing obstacles to equity in education in partnership with GPE, with a critical emphasis on the retention and transfer of learners.

“Investing in girls and sustaining progress means addressing socio-economic and education barriers that prevent girls from accessing education as a right,” he said.

Through continuous dialogue with traditional and religious leaders who are the custodians of cultural traditions that keep girls back, he said, these barriers can be removed.

“We need to ensure girls return to school and have tools and right environment they need to pursue their desired careers,” he said.

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