young african girl standing proud in her yellow and blue school uniform with siblings watching over her

3 main reasons girls drop out of school

Education is good for self-worth, health, and productivity. Yet, so many girls in Kenya leave school early.

A lot more girls than boys leave school early, especially in rural Kenya. But school is actually good for girls. Getting an education means they are less likely to get married or pregnant, have older boyfriends, or get HIV.

School fees are a known reason for girls leaving school early: families tend to pay for the boys rather than the girls if money is tight.

But there must be other reasons; here are other reasons why they are more likely than boys to leave school.


The first reason the girls leave school is their periods. These girls may not have access to sanitary pads. The fear of embarrassing leakages, many trips to the latrines, or needing to go home to wash out stains have been identified. Because they used whatever replacement material they can get their hands on, like mattress pieces or cloth, they often got painful rashes and pain.

You are like in class and then… the blood went until to the cloth and desk, … then when I stood a fellow told me I have stained.

You can imagine that that’s something that can really leave you frazzled, especially if you are young and a bit uncomfortable about your period.

That is why government should take seriously the provision of free sanitary towels. The reusable pads should also be popularized especially for girls from poor families. 



These factors leave the girls vulnerable to another important cause of drop outs: unintended pregnancies. Many girls said that they got pregnant because they didn’t have enough knowledge about sex.

Girls who are pregnant are often either expelled or don’t go back to school because they are embarrassed.

Related: Let’s Talk About Sex Education

Early marriages 

Beside the fees, the girls also mentioned not having enough money, either for uniforms or other necessities. For many families, educating the sons is most important, leaving the girls without money for their education.

To get money to afford going to school or survive, many girls report having boyfriends who help them out with cash. 

He can give you 200 shillings to buy your own things or maybe drink soda, so girls after getting this money feel that they are on top of the world.

In some cases, these girls see marriage as the best option to escape poverty. 

So it seems it’s money that’s the big issue. Not having money creates awkward situations that ultimately lead to girls leaving school early.

What do you think could be done to leave girls less vulnerable and embarrassed, so that they stay in school longer? Leave a comment below or on Facebook and join the discussion.

Oruko, K., Nyothach, E., Zielinski-Gutierrez, E., Mason, L., Alexander, K., Vulule, J., Laserson, K.F. & Phillips-Howard, P.A. (2015). ‘He is the one who is providing you with everything so whatever he says is what you do’: A Qualitatitve Study on Factors Affecting Secondary Schoolgirls’ Dropout in Rural Western Kenya. PloS One 10(12).

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Recent Comments (8)

    1. Hey Said,

      What do you mean?
      Hey Said,

      What do you mean?

  1. Powerful and hard hitting…
    Powerful and hard hitting article

    1. Thank you Caroline for the…
      Thank you Caroline for the feedback.

  2. To be sincere i didn’t…
    To be sincere i didn’t school dropout because of poor family background, later got pregnant while i was struggling to get help on how to pay the school fees
    But i need advice kindly need to get back to school even if it has taken long
    For the moment I’m capable of paying the fees alone
    Any advice please and be blessed ?

    1. Hi Patricia, 

      It is so…

      Hi Patricia, 

      It is so refreshing to see you want to go back to school. Happy that you can afford to cater for your schooling as well. Luckily, if you are in Kenya, you can go back to school after giving birth. Just visit your nearest school and inquire about the process. Wishing you all the best!

  3. I am also a victim. Mine…
    I am also a victim. Mine just happened when the Boda boda man gave me 100 shillings to buy the pads and that is when i ended up carrying his child and making me to drop out of school.

    1. Hi Abigael, 

      Thank you for…

      Hi Abigael, 

      Thank you for sharing your experience with us, Abigael. So sorry to hear that. Did you manage to go back to school after giving birth? 

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