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

Multimedia US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid