Although Kenya introduced Free Primary Education in 2003, many children are still unable to access education due to long distances between home and school and poor quality of learning environment and teaching methods, among other obstacles.
Despite this free primary education offering a significant proportion of Kenyan children in primary school are failing to master basic literacy and
numeracy skills and primary education in the Arid and Semi-ARID Lands (ASAL) remains low with a child in a ASAL County 3 times more likely to be out of
school than a child in a non-ASAL County.
Some of the shocking statistics on primary school retention in ASAL regions that continue to keep these children away from school are:
1. 63% of schools in ASAL Counties do not have access safe water sources
2. 91% do not have latrines that met minimum hygiene conditions
3. 80% do not have electricity; and
4. 40% do not have the basic teaching materials necessary to support learning.
The Safaricom Foundation has continued to focus on improving educational outcomes in ASAL regions as well as in informal settlements among children in primary school as well as in promoting access to technical and vocational education for young people.
Learning for young ones
One of the ways that Safaricom Foundation is doing this is through the partnership with ZiziAfrique to launch the Accelerated Learning Program that is aimed at ensuring that children between the ages of 9-12 who need extra help and specialized instruction are equuequi with basic skills in reading and mathematics. The pilot for the programme is underway in Turkana, Tana-River and Bungoma counties and will be implemented in twenty schools in each county.
Sanitary pads for needy girls
One of the main reasons for girls not attending school in rural and arid areas is the fact that they cannot afford sanitary towels thus they stay at home to avoid movement, making a mess and being mocked for having their monthly periods.
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Though the partnership between Safaricom Foundation and Huru International, girls all over the country from Karachuonyo to Garissa can be provided by reusable sanitary pad kits meaning girls are able to attend school throughout the school year including during their menstrual periods unlike before, which has resulted in increased academic performance.
Each Huru Pad lasts a minimum of 18 months, allowing girls to stay in school all year long and are produced locally, at a livelihood-generating workshop in Nairobi’s Mukuru slum. The kits are then distributed through school-based seminars, which engage beneficiaries in peer-based educational activities focused on HIV prevention and sexual and reproductive health. Huru International has produced and distributed over 25,000 reusable sanitary pad kits in a program that has changed the lives of Kenyan girls. The Safaricom Foundation has been one of Huru’s earliest supporters, and is a key partner in Kenya. In particular, the Foundation has supported the production and delivery of thousands of these Kits.
The impact of this work has been dramatic as: school absenteeism has been eliminated for 95% of program beneficiaries, and the academic performance of 85% of the girls who have received a Huru Kit has shown significant improvement. Just as important, as a consequence of the HIV prevention and life skills learning materials included in Huru Kits and at distribution events, 79% of beneficiaries have demonstrated increased HIV awareness.
Programs for children with disabilities
Statistics by World Health Organization show that approximately 10% of the total population in Kenya is physically challenged of these, 25% are children.
Less than 15,000 of these children are enrolled in educational programs for children with disabilities.
As part of its continuous process to accelerate growth in the education sector, Safaricom Foundation contributed Kshs 1.9 million towards the construction and equipping of physiotherapy facilities to the Wajir Girls Integrated Primary School.
The institution lacked essential facilities to cater to the needs of handicapped students. This is the only boarding school that accommodates handicapped girls in Wajir County. The girls require frequent physiotherapy sessions to enable them to attend classes with their counterparts.
Thanks to this project, the girls receiving the much needed help they required with specialized services offered by the physiotherapy facilities. The facilities have also lead to a reduction in the number of girls ping out of school.
Shashafey Primary School in Mandera has been in existence for the past 31 years with students in the school previously learning under temporary structures. The existing classrooms were not able to adequately accommodate the number of students in the school.
Through the Know and Grow Project, a partnership between Safaricom Foundation, Tinga Tinga Tales Foundation and the Coca-Cola Company, the school benefited from an 80 capacity classroom.
Congestion in the classrooms eased up and students can now learn well with the availability of ample space.