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Changing minds about education in Kenya

More than 1 million children lack access to primary-level education in Kenya. The barriers to education for these out-of-school children are interconnected – conflict, poverty, gender-related cultural practices, and child marriage – and often create a self-perpetuating loop.

Changing minds about education in Kenya
November 15, 2014
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These barriers weigh particularly heavily on girls in Kenya, where gender is one of the primary reasons that girls lack access to education.

Traditional divisions of labour, gender stereotyping, and early child marriage often mean that, where a choice has to be made, it will be a boy who is sent to school over a girl. In the most remote areas, where families cannot afford for any of their children to attend school due to direct and indirect costs, choice is not even an option.

In order to assist the hard-to-reach, out-of-school children and ensure their access to school, Educate A Child (EAC) joined forces with the Kenyan not-for- profit organisation Girl Child Network in 2013. They partnered to run a four-year project named ‘Our Right to Learn’. The goal of the project is to promote access to education for 31,350 marginalised boys and girls from three counties in Kenya. Since the inception of the project, 16,854 children (8,398 girls and 8,456 boys) have been enrolled (as of June 2014) in education programmes. Without the support that Girl Child Network is receiving from Educate A Child, it is likely that these boys and girls would still be outside of the educational system.

A true story from Naserian, a girl in Kajiado County in Kenya, reveals how Girl Child Network is making a difference in the lives of children: “I was so desperate when my parents forced me, together with my younger sister, to drop out of school so that I could get married, while my younger sister took care of our other five siblings. I was determined to continue with my education to the highest level possible but this dream was being shut down by my very own parents. The reason that they gave was that I was prime for marriage and that it was time I moved to my new suitor who they had found for me,” continues Naserian, amid sobs.

“However, it was like a miracle when one day my father came back home after attending a community conversations workshop – a campaign by Girl Child Network to enrol children in school, be they boys or girls – having had a change of heart. My father talked to my mother about the importance of education; they now fully support education for all children and now we, myself and my younger sister Sainapei, are back at school. My parents have also become advocates for education of girls and boys in our area.”

Says Naserian, who is now in standard seven while her younger sister is in standard five.

The partnership between EAC and Girl Child Network is an example of the organisation’s commitment to reach the most marginalised out-of-school children by partnering with local not-for-profit organisations. EAC identifies suitable partners and co-funds their local efforts in priority territories around the world to reach more children and to get closer to the goal of education for all.