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

    Russia Sees Brexit Impact Widespread but Temporary

    Officials, citizens react to Britain’s vote to exit European Union with mix of pleasure, understanding and concern

    Obama Encourages Entrepreneurs to Seek Global Interconnection

    President tells entrepreneurs at global summit at Stanford University to find mentors, push ahead with new ideas on day after Britain voters decide to exit EU

    Video Some US Gun Owners Support Gun Control

    Defying the stereotype, Dave Makings says he'd give up his assault rifle for a comprehensive program to reduce gun violence

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora