Kenya government has made tremendous gains in increasing female participation in education since 1960‟s. These gains have been achieved through measures such as harambee‟s, free primary and secondary education by expanding access and cost of education. Despite these efforts the gains have not been matched by gains in girls‟ academic performance nor retention. The concern of this study is that whereas government‟s heavy investment in education sector has realized high initial enrolment in secondary schools, girls‟ academic performance has remained low. Consequently, the low academic performance by girls in Kenya National Examinations is undermining the empowerment pace of female gender. The focus of this study was to establish the role of selected socio economic factors play in influencing academic performance among girls in public mixed secondary schools in Ainamoi Division, Kericho County. The study used survey research design. The accessible population was 924 form three girls, 260 teachers, 14 principals, and 49 teacher counselors from the fourteen secondary schools in the division. A sample comprising of 6 principals, 60 teachers, 11 teacher counselors and 218 girls was selected using simple random sampling technique. The sample was used to investigate the influence of selected socio economic factors on academic performance among girls in public mixed secondary schools. The research instruments were four sets of questionnaires, which were administered to the respondents. The instruments were piloted in two schools in Kipkelion Division and its reliability tested using Cronbach Alpha formula. The data collected was subjected to qualitative analysis with the help of Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 20. Frequency distribution tables and percentages were used to present data. The findings showed that girls‟ academic performance in the examination has been declining due to social economic factors that cut across the family environment, school and individual characteristics. The study showed that the secondary school girls are distracted by issues encountered from their families, the society they belong and the learning institutions they attend. The findings call for a lot of effort from the girls with the help of guidance and counseling in the schools to improve on their academic performance with the aim of passing their national examinations. The study also recommends that government should equip all secondary schools to give equal chances for females and males in order to address the imbalances that have existed in academic performance over the years. An improvement in academic performance among girls will have a positive contribution to the affirmative action era of addressing imbalances between boys and girls that have long existed in our society due to history, traditions and customs.

Background Information
The world can no longer afford not to invest in women education. This is because of significant increases in women's empowerment due to education as demonstrated by outcome of Mahila Samakhya education program on female empowerment in India (Kandpal, Baylis & Arends-Kuenning, 2012). The program resulted to increases in women's rights such as access to outside employment. In addition, their ability to leave home without permission and political participation was enhanced. These rights are associated with higher levels of bargaining power. Thus, the high private and social returns to investment in women and girl‟s education cannot be ignored. As such, the right to basic education for every citizen has taken centre stage as guiding policy for education world over. The universality of basic education became was emphasized during the World Conference on Basic Education for all, held in Jomtein, Thailand in 1990, (UNESCO, 1996). As a result, there was sudden increase in enrolment, especially of girls, in most countries in the recent past.

Education, in general, contributes towards national development through provision of appropriate human resource that helps to spur productivity and eliminate poverty, disease and ignorance (Republic of Kenya, 2005). Girl‟s education, in particular, empowers by allowing female gender to reach their full potential, to improve their political and social participation, and to believe in their own capabilities. Thus, it is only through education that gender empowerment can take place with important ramifications for the rest of the household; empowered women have fewer children and higher child survival rates healthier and better- fed children and a generally greater allocation of resources to children (Kandpal, Baylis & Arends-Kuenning, 2012). The main implication is that education contributes to the various aspects of national economy such as increased productivity, family health and nutrition, reduced fertility rates and related child mortality rates (Psacharopoulos & Patrinos, 2004). In addition, benefits of post primary education for girls‟ extend beyond the girl, affecting her family and the society as a whole. Benefits to society include enhanced economic development, education for the next generation, healthier young girls and families and fewer maternal deaths (UNICEF, 2004). The essence of education for a girl and society can be explained by the effect that education has on empowering girls to acquire and use new personal, social and economic behavior that, in turn, motivates societal change (Likimani, 1995). Due to these benefits, Ayodo (2010) observed that the quest for the provision of quality education for girls is currently a matter of concern to both consumers and providers.

Despite the benefits of education to female gender, it is the concern of this study that girls do not perform well in national examinations compared to boys. This is in spite of education statistics in Africa indicating that tremendous gains have been made in increasing female participation in education since 1960‟s (Likimani, 1985). For instance, despite the high enrolment, only three out of ten students enrolled join secondary level of education globally are girls (FAWE, 1995). In Africa, this scenario is evident particularly in Mali, Liberia and Ethiopia where seven out of ten girls fail to accomplish secondary education. But those girls that that go through to completion of their secondary education end up scoring low grades in their examinations. This has limited their upward mobility to higher education levels (G.O.K, 2007).

Women empowerment is particularly hard to achieve within a generation. This is because the empowerment is driven not only by information about choices, but also by the acceptability of these choices. But information about choices among communities as Kandpal, Baylis and Arends-Kuenning (2012) argue are often governed by strict social norms, which can both be driven by and drive the choices traditionally made by women in the village. If the social stigma associated with working outside the home or using contraceptives is prohibitive, then mere access to education or birth control may not change empowerment outcomes. In view of this, concerns by various scholars have been raised on girl‟s performance in national examinations in various parts of the world, noting that, gender inequality exist in the results of their academic performance and that there are persistent constraints that continue to hinder girls from attaining good grades in education at all levels (G.O.K, 2007). A number of theories have been advanced to explain why girls are performing poorly in academic examinations. These theories point at „genderization process‟ that begins at home and ends at the world of work. Socio-economic factors and probably the interactions between these factors and the wider community impinge and influence the school system (Lubenga, 2003).

The Kenya government Sessional Paper number 1 of 2005 (Republic of Kenya, 2005a), entrenched through the affirmative action bill in 2007 and the constitution of Kenya (2010), chapter 8 article 100(a) and 197(a), call for affirmative action to enhance women participation in education and other areas of employment. As a consequent reports for example, the Education for All Global Monitoring Report (UNESCO, 2003a), indicate that, Kenya has virtually attained gender parity in enrolment at both the primary and secondary education levels. However, the concern of the researcher is that, close scrutiny reveals existence of serious gender disparities in enrolment between regions in favor of males, with regard to completion, performance and transition. This scenario was explained by Koech Commission (G.O.K, 1999) pointing out that, conditions such as lack of parental reinforcement observed in poor families and parents who do not motivate their children to take interest in school negatively influenced girls‟ performance. But other studies indicate that girl‟s performance as such is hampered by unique problems caused by complex interplay between social, economic and cultural factors. These factors have not been well explored especially in Ainamoi Division where academic performance of girls compared to boys in National Examinations is low as shown in table 1.

Table 1: : Grade „A‟ KCSE Results Distribution per Gender in Ainamoi Division 2009-2013....

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