Mentorship Curriculum for Adolescent Girls in Primary School

June 19, 2014

The introduction

Adolescence in girls has been recognized as a special period which signifies the transition from girlhood to womanhood. Importance is attached to this phase of life because many key things: social, economic, biological and demographic events occur during the period which set the stage for the future. This transitional period is marked with the onset of menarche, an important milestone. Menstruation problems among young adolescence are implicated in four major education problems, first, primary school dropout. The fact that girls are dropping out of school is linked to the beginning of the menstruation cycle and its associated challenges. Girls fail to attend formal education in later adolescence and, for those who do, many are in formal primary rather than secondary school, where one might expect to find them. In Kenya, at primary level, dropout rates for boys are higher than that of girls in the lower levels but changes as both reach puberty.

The Background:

A number of studies have revealed that adolescence girl’s face challenges which range from social, economic, educational, environmental and individual but Puberty for girls can be very challenging (Kirk and Sommer, 2006), and are more complex than boys during the same period. Adolescent girlhood is always a critical time of identity formation and a period of transition from childhood to womanhood. Hence, teen years for girls today are a period of real danger. Arrange of risks face them during this period which requires attention, notwithstanding the many strategies being implemented to support their plight in developing countries. Girls entering puberty often face a “crisis in confidence” which makes them vulnerable to risky behavior, and these bad choices can have devastating lifelong consequences. Early marriage, young motherhood, unwanted pregnancy, and disease are rated as the main challenges facing adolescence girls in developing countries (Lloyd & Young, 2009).  One in seven girls in developing countries gets married before age 15, and nearly half are married by age 20; often, the girls are not given a choice in the matter (Lloyd & Young, 2009).  Once married, girls go from being under the control of fathers and brothers to being under the control of their husbands. The objective of this study is to mainstream mentorship curriculum in the primary school system class, 1-8 by January 2015 to support girls in various academic, social and menstrual difficulties to foster personal bonds and provide a safe space for them to express their feelings about academic, behavioral, career, and personal issues that they experience during adolescence to be able to manage them successfully for smooth transition.,

Problem description:

  1. Ignorance

Ignorance of home and school, about menstruating girls’ needs and experiences, can mean that the schooling experience is far from a positive one (Sommer, 2009).

  1. Lack of sanitary towels/sanitation infrastructure

Lack of adequate sanitary protection makes movement away from home physically impossible and the onset of menses will inevitably have an impact on girls’ access to education. For girls who are able to continue attending and participating in school, the widespread reality of poor sanitary facilities may be another hindrance.

  1. Hygiene-related problems

Use of unhygienic menstrual absorbents was common in girls who had no pre-menarcheal training than those who did Uzochukwu, et.al 2009, Gujarat, et.al, 2006).

  1.  Urban Migration

Rural to urban migration, is contributing to the breakdown of traditional family methods of conveying menstruation instruction (such as grandmothers and aunties passing advice to girls), leaving newly post-pubescent girls to potentially suffer shame and dislocation without guidance on the meanings and management of menstruation (Sommer, 2009), Sommer identifies a significant gap in girls’ knowledge about the pragmatics of menstrual management and pubertal body change.  This gap necessitates the need for an intervention to test the impact of menstrual mentoring towards building high self-esteem at the onset of menses for an important stage in life for adolescent girls.

Potential solutions from research evidence

Alternative approaches towards addressing the educational needs of adolescent girls that have been employed previously include scholarships and stipends; recruitment/training of female teachers, para-teachers, and other educators, transportation and boarding, safety policies and training, and codes of conduct (Lloyd and Young, 2009). The authors also say, those approaches that have been successful include scholarships and training of female teachers. However, mentoring, tutoring and peer support are seen to be promising but not yet proven successful among primary school adolescence girls.

Mentoring

A natural mentoring relationship was found to have a protective indirect influence on risk behaviors like substance use and violence through its positive association on the school attachment mediator, (Black et.al, 2010). This was revealed through a mediation model tested, which hypothesized that school attachment mediated the longitudinal association between school-based natural mentoring relationships and risk behaviors, with a sample comprising of youth with an average age of 14.8 years and an almost equal percentage of females (53%) and males from various ethnic backgrounds. Mentoring is reported in research to be a powerful intervention for supporting people in various

This paper plans to evaluate impact of mentoring among young girls age (10-15) at the onset of menstruation to determine whether being able to manage menstrual, psycho-social and educational challenges impacts positively on academic performance. Adequate knowledge on menarche and menstruation is necessary and previous studies have recommended strategies encouraging adolescence girls to remove the fear of the unknown and face future socio-economic tasks with confidence, a reason why mentoring is a promising intervention.

Conclusion

Individuals who have positive conceptions of themselves in behavioral domains that they value are more likely to have high self-esteem than those who have positive self-conceptions in domains of little personal significance (Markus & Nurius, 1986). This study envisages on mentoring pubescent girls to develop positive conceptions about themselves at the onset of menstruation to be able to successfully manage the menstrual, educational and psycho-social challenges that inhibit them from excelling in school. The study assumes that mentoring will motivate adolescent girls to identify their self-worth, concentrate in studies and subsequently increase scores.

Recommendations

i.               Assess whether mentoring pubescent girls on menstrual, educational and psychosocial challenges will improve learning outcomes. This would include interventions that seek to improve the girls – esteem and motivation on benefits of education and good academic performance, risks and consequences of early pregnancy and being infected by HIV/AIDS. Responses from literature review also supported a conceptualization of menstrual education as a long-term, continuous process, beginning well before menarche and continuing long after. (Koff and  Rierdan, 1995).

ii.              Investigation of governments’ role in supporting adolescent girls’ transition from primary to secondary education. Although the number of pupils missing school due to menstruation is evident both in urban and rural, it appears to be higher in the rural settings. It is evident that girls use old clothes and old newspapers, because they cannot afford to buy modern products (Kirk and Sommer, 2006).

iii.            Further research on mothers/guardians’ role in preparing and supporting their daughters at menarche.  Koff and  Rierdan (1995) study results show that girls  saw mothers as critically important but often unable to meet their needs. Many girls felt uncomfortable talking about menstruation with fathers, wanting them to be supportive but silent.


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