SH460 MILLION PROGRAMME

Magoha concerned schoolgirls do not get free sanitary pads

Education ministry shows that a girl is absent from school for four days in a month due to lack of sanitary towels

In Summary

• The programme hoped to improve access to education among girls who cannot afford sanitary products like pads and tampons.

• Despite being a brainchild of the Education Ministry, the project was moved to the ministry of Gender in February 2018.

Mt Kenya Salvation Army Primary School pupils show some of the sanitary pads.
Mt Kenya Salvation Army Primary School pupils show some of the sanitary pads.
Image: WAMBUGU KANYI

Education CS George Magoha has raised concerns that school girls do not receive free sanitary towels despite the government allocating millions to support the programme.

The Sh470 million allocated last year was expected to improve access to education to many girls who could not afford sanitary products like pads and tampons.

Data from the Ministry of Gender showed that 3,703,452 girls collectively received 14,813,810 packets of sanitary towels costing Sh420,618,057 last year.

 

"Last year, money was provided by the government to provide sanitary pads. From a random sampling of children the reports are they are yet to get the pads," Magoha said yesterday in Nairobi.

The project was moved from the Education ministry in February last year to the Ministry of Gender.

Magoha said the move had complicated the ministry's efforts to ensure the programme is successful.

"Regrettably, the money to purchase these products is not under my control but I will still continue to go and check and I will shout about it," Magoha said.

In the financial year 2019-20, the government allocated another Sh460 million for the programme. 

Yesterday, the Ministry of Gender did not respond to calls and texts on the matter.

The programme came into force in June 2017 when President Uhuru Kenyatta signed to law a Bill to amend the Basic Education Act.

 

The amendment mandated the government to provide free, sanitary towels to every girl registered and enrolled in a public basic education institution and has reached puberty.

Basic Education PS Belio Kipsang yesterday told the Star that the Education ministry had provided the required data to help guide the Gender ministry in distribution.

The sanitary pads will be given to school heads who will, in turn, organise to have needy children get them.

Kipsang said the new National Education Information Management System launched last week will also play a vital role in helping identify needy girls.

 A 2016 Unesco report estimates that one in 10 girls in sub-Saharan Africa is absent from school during their menstrual cycle.

Data from the Education ministry show that a girl absent from school for four days in 28 days loses 13 learning days equivalent to two weeks of learning in every school term.

In an academic year (nine months) a girl loses 39 learning days equivalent to six weeks of learning time.

(edited by O. Owino)