Skip to content

Encouraging Child Mothers to Return to School: Rapid Review of the Literature

Photo credit: Jonathan Torgovnik on Getty Images/Images of Empowerment

Literature Review: Encouraging Child Mothers Return to School - 382 KB

Download PDF

Each year 13,000 girls drop out of schools in Kenya due to pregnancy (APHRC, 2020). To address this problem, the Kenyan government created the School Re-entry Policy for Girls in 1994, and followed up with the National Guidelines for School Re-Entry in Early Learning and Basic Education in 2020 . This review aims to:

  1. identify the challenges faced in implementing the School Re-entry Policy in Kenya,
  2. examine evidence-based interventions that have supported girls in returning to school, and
  3. provide recommendations to address these implementational challenges.

In this rapid review of the existing literature, we cover seven research studies that discuss challenges with the implementation of the School Re-entry Policy in Kenya.  In summary, they highlight the following barriers to school re-entry for girls:

  • a lack of awareness of the policy, stigmatization by girls’ colleagues and teachers (Omwancha 2012, Mwenje 2015, and Undie et al 2015);
  • no resource allocation to schools to implement the program (Mwenje 2015);
  • low parental involvement in the readmission process (Wekesa 2014);
  • lack of clear guidelines from the government on how to implement the policy (Mutua et al, 2019, Mwenje 2015, Omwancha 2012);
  • unavailability of child care facilities, and families’ financial constraints to send their children back to school (Mwenje 2015, Undie et al, 2015). 

In addition, we discuss some interventions that have been carried out to help girls return to school outside of Kenya. Due to a lack of rigorous literature in a similar context, the reviewed literature is based on studies located in the US, may be outdated, and does not always meet rigorous methodological standards. Nevertheless, we view this evidence as suggestive. 

Based on the evidence covered in the literature, the review provides the following recommendations to The Ministry of Education to address the difficulties it has faced in implementing the School Re-entry Policy:

  1. Make additional resources available to schools for the provision of free childcare, and guidance and counseling services in order to support child parents;
  2. Develop and apply standards and systems of monitoring and evaluation to ensure the proper implementation of the School Re-entry Policy and protect teen mothers’ right to education;
  3. Create awareness of the policy in the community and run a sensitization drive for parents, students, and teachers alike;
  4. Provide cash transfers to teen mothers to keep them in school.