Policymakers and Girls’ Education in Emergencies in Kenya

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In a recent report, we explore the extent to which policymakers in Kenya have produced or used quality data to drive equitable and coordinated provisions of education for girls and women. We conducted 25 semi-structured interviews with a wide range of key stakeholders, both at the national and county levels. We also consulted non-state actors such as United Nations organisations, civil society organisations, research organisations, non-governmental organisations and religious authorities. 

Our key findings are:

  1. Policymakers and stakeholders value data.
  2. There is a disconnect between key stakeholders and actors, as accurate data is usually unavailable or unverified.
  3. There is a lack of data on teenage pregnancies and child marriages in emergency contexts.
  4. There is a significant data gap around girls living with disabilities. 
  5. With the right data and the right support, women’s organisations can positively impact girls’ education access and quality.
  6. Data on girls’ education in emergencies is constantly changing and as such needs to be collected on a regular basis. Most of the available data on girls’ education in emergencies is outdated, which potentially hinders targeted interventions for girls.
  7. Boys are also getting left behind in retention, transition, and completion. Though the national gender parity index is impressive, there are regions where boys are significantly underrepresented in basic education. 

Our findings indicate that data is being used to inform girls’ education interventions and overall, all stakeholders value data. The major challenge lies with the quality of the data collected, the competency in disaggregating or amalgamating data and collecting data from remote regions. For example, our findings revealed that most parents in remote areas do not provide accurate information on the number of girl children; they have to avoid scrutiny from the government and other stakeholders in case the girls children are married or pregnant. This is also an issue for Nomadic regions like Turkana County, where families migrate in search of pastures, leading to data quickly changing over time.

Therefore, the quality of data — both qualitative and quantitative data, needs to be improved. Relevant stakeholders need to work collaboratively to collect high-quality up-to-date data, that is representative of the local, regional and national context. 

Data collection, aggregation, and disaggregation can be done by one organisation alone, but it will neither be comprehensive nor capture all the issues affecting girls education in emergencies ; shared data collection presents a significant opportunity for organisations to collaborate and collect higher quality data. Such collaborations should include civil society organisations, non-governmental organisations, UN agencies, faith-based organisations, and the government. Collaboration leverages the competencies and regional coverage of other organisations; this ensures that high-quality, up-to-date data on girls’ education in emergencies is collected and used adequately.

Policymakers and stakeholders made the following key recommendations:

  1. Appropriately disaggregate data on girls’ education in emergency contexts; 
  2. Educate communities and parents on the importance of girls education;
  3. Policymakers should to focus more on data disaggregation for policies targeting girls to ensure that policies are context-specific and target disadvantaged groups
  4. Collect more qualitative data on girls’ education to provide context to some of the issues that cannot be adequately captured quantitatively;
  5. Train key stakeholders on how to appropriately process and disaggregate data for girls;
  6. Bigger organisations should collaborate more with smaller organisations to collect and share data on girls’ education in emergencies;

In closing, there is not only a need for advocacy for girls’ education in emergencies, but a need for such advocacy to be driven and informed by data. With comprehensive data, policymakers and key stakeholders can better target intervention strategies and programmes for girls education in emergencies. Better use of data means a stronger focus on girls in the most disadvantaged regions and providing them with adequate support. Moreover, better data  will avoid duplication of efforts among stakeholders and allow re-allocation of scarce financial resources.

Björn Haßler
Björn Haßler