Exploration of factors that contribute to girls’ performance in mathematics-a case of a public school in Taita-Taveta county, Kenya

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)

First Supervisor/Advisor

Ass. Prof Peter Kajoro

Second Supervisor/Advisor

Mussa Mohamed


Institute for Educational Development, East Africa


Mathematics as a science contributes to technological growth in the world. In the 21st century the role of mathematics has increased tremendously. It’s needed by individuals in their daily lives as well as in industry. If women are to participate in business and in the society of the global economy, then they must be represented in mathematics related courses. Kenyan girls have continued to perform poorly in this important subject as reflected in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examinations. This study aimed at exploring the factors contributing to girls’ low performance in mathematics. The participants for the study were two mathematics teachers and girls in a public secondary school in Taita Taveta County. The study adopted a mixed method design. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews, focus group discussion and questionnaires. The aim was to capture in-depth views of both teachers and girls to provide empirical basis of what could be done to counter contributory factors to girls’ low performance in mathematics. Analysis of quantitative data was done using statistical package of social sciences (SPSS) while the qualitative data were analyzed manually using thematic content analysis. The data indicated that three main categories of factors were significant: school factors which included teaching strategies, non-completion of syllabus, and inadequate teaching and learning resources; student factors included absenteeism, peer influence and house chores. Finally, out of school factors which included poverty and parental involvement. Strategies that can be used are career guidance and counseling, regular assessment tests and parental involvement to improve girls’ performance in mathematics. Based on the research findings the recommendation made are in-service training on gender responsive pedagogy, provision of teaching and learning resources and review of the syllabus to make it child friendly. It is hoped that once these steps are taken there will be improvement in performance in mathematics.

This document is available in the relevant AKU library