While universal primary education is a goal of Kenya’s government, for many students in rural areas this goal is out of reach. Many children are unable to attend government run schools due to the cost of uniforms and books. More still have been excluded and struggle to complete their studies outside their peer groups.
In Kenya’s Western province ~15% of children do not receive any education at all and less than 7% finish secondary school. This is hugely important not just from the point of view of poverty reduction but also health outcomes. Studies consistently show that educational attainment has a strong effect on health behaviours and attitudes and this is extremely important in Kenya where infectious diseases have such a huge impact on quality of life and survival.
To help improve both the health and education outcomes of the community we serve, Kenya Aid has established a school that is truly free – there are no fees charged to students for books or uniforms. Each family is instead encouraged to contribute when and where they can; this could mean providing a bag of rice for daily lunches, or labour to build and maintain the classrooms. Not only does this assist in allowing even the most impoverished children to gain an education, but it also fosters community spirit and pride in the school and its students.
Our school currently accommodates almost 300 children ranging from four to 20 years old. Lunch is provided daily to help foster a healthy mind and body and we follow the national curriculum, adding in life skills such as agriculture, sewing and animal husbandry. Our students have also instigated their own micro-finance programs which include caring for a cow and selling milk at the local market to help financially support the school and its families.
The school is registered with the Kenyan Ministry of Education and our students are able to sit the national university entrance exams. In 2014 we had the first cohort of students finish secondary school, some of whom have gone on to university!