The government has set aside Ksh470million to buy sanitary pads for 1.6 million girls in public primary and secondary schools.
The programme targets girls in class 6, 7 and 8.
The Cabinet Secretary for Education, Prof. George Magoha said the programme aims at ensuring the government provides equal access to quality and relevant education for both boys and girls irrespective of their socio-economic status.
He said the initiative will contribute to improved performance of girls in education by boosting their pride and dignity, ensure there is reduced school absenteeism and therefore enhance the retention and transition of all girls in the education cycle.
“It will also improve the health of the girls, some of whom end up using unsafe materials that can lead to infection,” Prof. Magoha said.
He said that poor menstrual hygiene management causes adolescent girls’ anxiety and low self-esteem, thereby contributing to absenteeism and hence leading to poor performance in schools.
“Poor menstrual management keeps girls out of school for approximately 25% of their school days in a year,” the Cabinet Secretary observed saying a significant number of girls dropped out due to lack of facilities in schools to help them manage the menstruation process.
Prof. Magoha urged schools to do all they can to ensure that there are adequate sanitary facilities including bathrooms for girls to be able to manage menstruation while at school.
The government spend Kshs. 240 Million for the first time in the Financial 2011/2012 financial year to provide towels to 443,858 girls in public primary drawn from 82 targeted districts in 4,114 schools across the country to benefit.
The programme was started following concerns by the government over high drop-out rate of girls and low enrolment compared to boys.
Lack of appropriate sanitary facilities and access to sanitary towels was identified as a deterrent to schooling.