News / Africa

Kenyan Slum School Offers Free Education for Girls

A teacher at the Kibera School for Girls teaches students about shapes in Nairobi, Kenya, March 19, 2013. (J. Craig/VOA)
A teacher at the Kibera School for Girls teaches students about shapes in Nairobi, Kenya, March 19, 2013. (J. Craig/VOA)
Jill Craig
— Founded in 2009, the Kibera School for Girls offers free tuition, uniforms, books, and meals to qualifying girls in the Nairobi slum of Kibera, where a good education is difficult to find.  The school is the first to offer free education for girls in the area and it garners support from the surrounding community by providing residents with much-needed services.

In Kibera,  Kenya’s largest slum, residents struggle to afford food, shelter, clean water, proper sanitation and decent schools.  Girls face the additional challenges of gender-based discrimination and violence.  When money for school fees is scarce, parents and guardians usually withdraw their daughters from school before their sons.

The Kibera School for Girls, which offers classes from pre-kindergarten through the fourth grade, aims to help the community understand the value of educating girls.  At this school, parents do not pay fees, but a family member must work at the school five weeks a year, as a way of supporting the child’s education.  Students are selected based on the two criteria of academic potential and greatest financial need.

A student raises her hand to ask a question during class at the Kibera School for Girls in Nairobi, Kenya, March 19, 2013.(J. Craig/VOA)A student raises her hand to ask a question during class at the Kibera School for Girls in Nairobi, Kenya, March 19, 2013.(J. Craig/VOA)
x
A student raises her hand to ask a question during class at the Kibera School for Girls in Nairobi, Kenya, March 19, 2013.(J. Craig/VOA)
A student raises her hand to ask a question during class at the Kibera School for Girls in Nairobi, Kenya, March 19, 2013.(J. Craig/VOA)
Joyce Achieng, 10, is one of these students.  She says that girls need more opportunities, especially in Kibera where she has seen much suffering.

“It is important because when they do not go to school they will not achieve their goals and their dreams will not come true.  They will not be what they want to be in the future,” she said.

Headmistress Anne Atieno Olwande believes that girls like Joyce will have a better chance of overcoming the crippling effects of poverty by getting a quality education.

“It’s one of my passions, to make them realize that you didn’t choose, you didn’t sign to be born where you were born but you can choose to go where you want to be in the future,” she explained.

Motivation

Helping women and girls carve out better lives for themselves is precisely why Kennedy Odede co-founded the school almost four years ago.

“Growing up in Kibera, we used to go to school [and] you’d find more boys than girls.  And that’s something that I really hated, you know?” Odede confided.

In 2004, Odede started a grassroots movement that later became Shining Hope for Communities, a community-run organization in Kibera.  With the 20 cents he’d earned from a factory job, he purchased a soccer ball.  Through sport, he encouraged young people to discuss issues facing them in the slums.  

But Odede felt he could do more, especially for girls, whom he felt were at an even greater disadvantage in Kibera.

“So I started seeing communities through the lens of my mom, and of my sister.  And I wanted everyone in the community to have a better life,” Odede explained.
 
But he knew that a tuition-free school for girls could be a target of jealousy and even strife in the slums.

Value for everyone

So he and Jessica Posner Odede, Shining Hope for Communities co-founder and chief operating officer, decided the school would need to provide value for everyone, regardless of whether they had a daughter enrolled.

Today, Kibera residents can stop by Shining Hope to get subsidized clean water or to use a sanitary toilet.  If they want to learn computer skills, they can sign up for training.  When they’re sick, they can visit the medical clinic.  Women suffering from domestic violence can come here for advice and assistance.

Posner Odede says that these services give buy-in to residents who might otherwise oppose the school and girls’ education in general.

“So our model is putting a girls’ school at the center of services that the entire community wants and needs," Odede explained.  "And what we’ve seen is by doing this, we get everyone invested in and excited about the project of girls education.”

According to the World Bank, more educated women tend to be healthier, participate more in the formal labor market, earn higher incomes, have fewer children, and provide better health care and education for their own children.

A 2008 report from Plan International, a children's rights group, says not educating girls takes billions of potential dollars from the economies of low and middle income countries every year.

You May Like

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

Analysts say move by President Xi is an effort to win more party support, take step toward economic reforms, removing those who would stand in way of change More

South Africa Land Reforms Still Contentious 20 Years Later

Activists argue that the pace of land reform is slow and biased; legal experts question how some proposed reforms would be implemented More

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Beliefs reportedly prompt heavy surveillance, intimidation and travel restrictions More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid