11 April 2012 [from the AllAfrica Web site]
Dadaab — A mix of cultural practices, such as early and forced marriage, as well as child labour, are depriving girls of education in the Dadaab refugee complex in eastern Kenya.
Out of Dadaab’s estimated population of 463,000 mainly Somali refugees, more than half are children under 18; of these about 38 percent attend school. The proportion of girls in the camps’ primary and secondary schools is 38 and 27 percent, respectively, according to the UN Refugee Agency. A third of girls aged between 5 and 13 in Dabaab go to school; for those aged 14 to 17, only one in 20 are enrolled.
Hawa Ahmed, who arrived in Dadaab about seven months ago with her six children, told IRIN that only her sons attend school.
Her two daughters stay at home cooking, washing utensils and fetching water. “[These are] already enough lessons as they learn how to keep a family,” said Hawa as she plaited her daughter’s hair.
While boys are generally encouraged to attend school, barriers to girls’ education remain. A local saying among Somalis in Dadaab, for example, is ‘Gabar ama gunti rageed ama god hakaga jirto’ (a girl should either be married or in the grave).
Halima, 19, was married off to an older man in 2011 forcing her to drop out of high school at Dadaab’s Ifo camp. The now divorced single mother of one, said: “I am very disappointed. My life is almost destroyed. I can no longer go back to school because I have to take care of my child; I [have] lost my pride.”