Determinants of Secondary School Attrition and Related Health Factors among Female Youth in Rural Kenya

Thumbnail Image




Fowler, Zack


Green, Eric P
Broverman, Sherryl A.
Malone, David M.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Repository Usage Stats



This paper investigates the determinants of secondary school attrition and related health factors among female students in rural Kenya. To explore the relationship between attrition determinants and negative health outcomes, a mixed-methods approach was taken to collect both qualitative and quantitative data. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 35 female youth that had terminated their enrollment in a Muhuru Bay secondary school between 2011 and 2015. Using grounded theory and thematic analysis, dominant themes were identified pertaining to determinants of attrition and implications for attrition-related health outcomes. Participants reported three primary causes of attrition: adolescent pregnancy (65.7% n=23), poverty and school fees (45.7% n=16) and early marriage (5.7% n-2). Health-related themes emerged in three major themes: in-school factors, out-of-school factors, and new-situation factors. Emergent health-related subthemes vary per temporal category and include forming relationships for favors, pride from enrollment status, intimate partner violence in early marriage, familial violence in response to situation changes, and abortion in response to early pregnancy. Numerical attrition data collected for the graduating classes of 2014 and 2015 in Muhuru Bay revealed no significant difference between male and female rates of attrition in the community. This may suggest that the burden of poverty in Muhuru Bay is so elevated that confounding factors of attrition, such as gender, are masked. Further research is necessary to determine health factors of male attrition and potential points of intervention for both male and female students.





Fowler, Zack (2016). Determinants of Secondary School Attrition and Related Health Factors among Female Youth in Rural Kenya. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from

Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.