With a regional fertility rate of 5.1, compared to a global average of 2.4, and a 2030 projected
population size of 1.5 billion people, there needs to be an increase in the supply of educational
opportunities for all children in order to meet the growing demand in sub-Saharan Africa.
Even as access to education has improved in sub-Saharan Africa and especially in Kenya, learning achievement remains remarkably low. These disparities in achievement range from causes such as gender differences, rural and urban communities, wealthy and poor children among others. Low and uneven level of knowledge acquisition during the foundational years of primary school has adverse implications for knowledge and skills acquisition in later classes and for the long-term development and economic growth. With the current trend, it emerges that as a country and also the Sub Saharan region, we are not yet there in terms of access and quality of education.
The fourth SDG addresses education with an aim of ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. This means the government and development partners have a huge role to play in ensuring that access, retention, transition and quality are achieved for our children. In Kenya, Free Primary Education exists but that has come with a lot more challenges than anticipated. With an increase in enrollment, public schools became overpopulated with very little resources coming from the government thus quality of education became compromised.
Action for Children in Conflict works with the Ministry of Education, Boards of Management, stakeholders in the education sector, communities and children to provide marginalized children with equal chances of accessing education. Our education Programme has been very instrumental in improving access, retention, transition and also quality of education in Kiambu, Murang’a and surrounding counties over the past ten years.
Our interventions target working children, children affected by HIV, children from child headed households, orphans, street children and children living with disabilities through providing those in secondary schools with school fees, back to school items such as uniform as well as providing information sharing sessions where they come together during the school holidays and engage each other in conversations around their education journeys and help each other deal with the challenges they might be facing in school. The programme has also created a platform for children to learn to speak out concerning different issues affecting them through Child Rights Clubs in primary schools. Children have a right to talk and be heard, and action taken to respond to the issues they raise, however this does not always happen. CRCs enable children learn about their rights and seek them from duty bearers.
Another aspect of our education programme is training of BoMs in both primary and secondary schools to help them understand their roles since many of them are elected but do not know how they can bring positive change in their schools. BoMs are very crucial people in the management of schools, but their potential is rarely utilized, leaving the head teacher to deal with all matters in the school. This puts a lot of pressure on the head teacher, who is in turn not able to perform fully.
Additionally, AfCiC, in efforts to ensure street and vulnerable children access education and are kept out of hunger and malnutrition, runs a feeding programme that provides a hot meal for 500 children who attend St. Patrick’s Primary School. This is a school situated right at the centre of Thika town with the catchment population for the school being Kiandutu slum, Majengo, also an informal settlement and Biafra. The feeding programme has had a direct impact on enrolment, retention, completion, transition and increased achievement.
The children in the school rely on the meal that is provided by the programme, because their families cannot afford three meals a day. Whenever there is no food, some children do not regularly attend school and those that attend do not pay attention in the afternoon, as reported by the teachers. When asked what they do when they miss school, the children reported that they go to beg in the streets while others reported that they go to engage in whatever form of work that is readily available. It has been observed over the years that once a child forms the habit of going to the streets, they find it hard to stop it and resume school, gradually becoming street children.
The feeding programme and in general AfCiC education empowerment programme serves several purposes; improving nutrition, ensuring children access education and a preventive measure against children going to the streets thus being aligned with the SDGs.
Tel: +254 714 038 285/+254 722 753 137 Email:firstname.lastname@example.org Kenyadirector@actionchildren.or.ke
Action for Children in Conflict,Section 9, off Mgoko Road,P.O.Box, 6439-01000,Thika, Kenya.