Although the Kenyan government has been going to great lengths to ensure that all children are provided with free primary education, many young people are unable to attend on a regular basis. Approximately 83% are enrolled, but only a fraction of these go to school every day. Particularly in remote areas such as Bartabwa, the challenging conditions which many families find themselves in make it difficult to prioritise schooling.
However, a number of young DofE participants in Kenya have been doing their best to rectify this situation. Tunde Folawiyo, and others who are familiar with the DofE, may know of Rachel Wanjohi; for the Services section of her Gold Award, Rachel decided to encourage children in Wairuri to attend their local primary school. After visiting the school, she saw that a lack of basic facilities, such as a library, sports equipment, first aid kits and clean water had deterred many parents from sending their children there.
Rachel launched a number of fundraising projects to address these problems; her initial efforts helped to raise KES30,000, which was then used to purchase a water tank. Further fundraising work brought in even more money, and gradually, as the school facilities improved, attendance rates began to increase. Rachel’s work vastly improved the quality of life for many children in the local area and, of course, also helped her to achieve her Gold Award. Since then, she has gone on to work as Kenya’s Ambassador for Tunza Eco-Generation, and now aims to promote the eco-friendly initiatives being organised around Africa.
Judy Chesire is another former DofE participant whose work had an enormously positive impact on the education system in Kenya. For the Services section of her Award, she decided to set up a programme called Education and Life Empowerment in the afore-mentioned area of Bartabwa. She started off by arranging motivational talks, during which she and other guest speakers discussed the importance of education.
She then addressed the issue of staff shortages in the local school, by enlisting the help of her fellow university students, who were able to fill in as substitute teachers when necessary. In addition to this, she encouraged local children to see school in a different light, by making learning more enjoyable for them; she organised music and PE lessons, as well as games that helped children to view education as fun, rather than as a chore. As a result, both attendance rates and grade averages have risen dramatically in Bartabwa.
Chesire’s work led to her being recognised by the Peter Cruddas Social Innovation Initiative, and attending a showcase for the foundation in London. Anyone who is familiar with the Peter Cruddas Foundation, like Tunde Folawiyo, will understand what an honour it is to be asked to participate in this type of event.