Sanitary Towel Programmes
PROVISION OF SANITARY TOWELS TO GIRLS IN PUBLIC PRIMARY “KEEPING GIRLS IN SCHOOL”
The overall goal of the Ministry of Education is to provide equal access to quality and relevant education for both boys and girls irrespective of their socio-economic status. This is in recognition that education has a critical role to play in addressing issues of gender equity and in pursuit of the Government’s commitment to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Kenya Vision 2030 and the Constitution of Kenya 2010.
Kenya made a significant stride in improving access to education in 2003 when the Ministry of Education launched FPE. In January 2008, Free Day Secondary Education (FDSE) was introduced. The two important initiatives have enabled more children from the poorest areas of Kenya, where three out of every five families are classified as living in absolute poverty to join school.
One of the most unique achievements made by MOE was the enactment of the Gender Policy in Education (GEP) in 2007. This puts the MOE in the global lead for advancing the rights of the girls and boys in education issues. It is also an initiative which has helped address other barriers to accessing these rights, with insufficiency in family income and inadequate materials for sexual maturation at the forefront of these challenges
The sanitary towels intervention is required to address the needs of many menstruating girls in schools who’s greatest challenge is absenteeism related to their reproductive health issues. In the past, the Ministry of Education partnered with Proctor and Gamble, The girl Child Network (GCN) and Education for the Marginalized Children of Kenya EMACK) to provide free sanitary towels to over 20,645 girls from poor families in 136 Primary Schools.
Information from schools show that girls who lack sanitary towels often use crude and unhygienic methods to manage their menstruation. In urban slums, girls are widely known to collect used pads from garbage dumps and wash them for their own use. These measures often result in mild to severe or chronic health complication contributing to low hygiene levels among the girls.
If the provision of sanitary towels does not reach the many needy girls, majority of them are likely to drop or /have dropped out of school before completing their education or loose valuable pupil/ teacher contact time.
The Ministry of Education has been coordinating the sanitary towels programme whose overall objectives is to provide sanitary towels to all menstruating girls both in public primary and special school throughout the school calendar across the country.
In primary school level the programme targets class 6, 7 and 8 girls, the age at which menstruation is most likely to commence for majority of girls, though, many more girls who join school at an early age and are in lower classes are left out of this programme.
|S/NO.||Financial Year||Allocation in Millions||Number of Girls|
|4.||2014/2015||400 (300 was available due to pending bill the previous year)||1,143,548|
|5.||2015/2016||400 (220 was available due to pending bill the previous year)||700,000|
|7.||2017/2018||Ministry of Public service, Gender and Youth||–|
|8.||2018/2019||Ministry of Public service, Gender and Youth||–|
In the current FY202/2022, the Ministry of Education has received KShs 270,408,000 towards provision of sanitary towels to the girls. However, the programme targets class 6, 7 and 8 girls, the age at which menstruation is most likely to commence for majority of girls, though, many more girls who are at puberty stage and are in lower classes are left out of this programme. This shows that the budgetary allocation is far below what is required to provide sanitary towels to all needy girls in primary schools. This therefore, leaves out a significant number of girls across the country.
The Ministry of Education has been managing the sanitary towels programme right from its initiation in 2011/2012 FY where is established an efficient institutional structure to procure, distribute and monitor the programme. This programme has ensured access, retention, performance and transition of the vulnerable girls in all regions across the country.
The sanitary towels programme is not a stand-alone programme in access and equity of Education in Kenya. The programme is an integral component of the access and equity programme which is the mandate of Ministry of Education and cannot be treated in isolation.
The monitoring reports of this programme indicated that absenteeism of girls from school has drastically reduced, retention and performance has increased as more and more girls exhibit increased self-esteem and confidence to participate not only in academics but also in co-curricular activities.
It is in the interest of the Ministry of Education to continue coordinating the programme to ensure all vulnerable and deserving girls in line with vision 2030 social pillar that states the Government will improve livelihood for vulnerable groups and increase opportunities for women, youth and all disadvantaged groups.
- Since the inception of the programme in 2011/2012 Financial Year, approximately 7.9 million girls have benefitted from the provision of sanitary towels.
- The provision of sanitary towels has ensured access, retention, performance and transition of the vulnerable girls in all regions across the country.
- They girls now use hygienic methods to manage their menstruation.
- Almost all the targeted schools have a female teachers in charge and reports indicate some menstrual hygiene training and information is taught to the girls.
CHALLENGES IN THE PROVISION OF SANITARY TOWELS.
- Limited funds provided by the Government to the programme and therefore not able to cover all primary school girls in the menstruation stage.
- Distribution of sanitary towels is done at sub county level where Primary schools in that sub county Education converge to collect the sanitary towels and therefore schools travel far distances and incur carrying expenditures of the sanitary towels which are usually bulky.
- The targeted girls are given 7 packets per year for the term, leaving 5 months of the year un provided for.
- Menstrual hygiene education is not effectively done at school level and therefore girls reach menses with minimal knowledge of menstruation.
- Disposal of the sanitary towels. In most schools sanitary towels are disposed in the pit latrines. Sanitary towels are not biodegradable and therefore a big challenge to the environment. Only few schools have improvised incinerators.
- There are many NGO s and other organizations giving sanitary towels to girls in schools and the information is not with MOE. This lack of reporting and coordination of the partner bodies creates duplication of the supply of sanitary towels.
- Most schools have not provided changing rooms for girls.
- Most schools do not have water accessible to girls for hygienic purposes especially during menstruation.
- Myths and taboos that surround Menstruation and menstrual hygiene in some communities and therefore girls reach menses without any information or with limited information and some face discrimination for being considered unclean during menstruation
- Treasury to increase the sanitary towels programme allocation so as to cover all the girls in Primary schools
- All other partners supplying sanitary towels to be coordinated by MoE to avoid duplication.
- The Ministry of Education in collaboration with Partners should carry out impact assessment of the programme.