Global Education Fund Kenya Scholars from schools around Kayole, Nairobi have been meeting every month to support one another, grow as a community and have a safe space where they can learn together from expert facilitators. The most recent meeting came on May 12th, and it was an exciting meeting, which began with entertaining icebreaker games led by one of the facilitators. The scholars then went into boys and girls separate groups.
The girls had a facilitator from an NGO that encourages youth participation in the social, political, economic affairs of nation building. After introductions, the facilitator took the girls through a COMMUNITY MAPPPING TOOL in reference to the book “GIRL Centered Program Design” from Population Council Kenya. The community mapping tool has a ranking system that helps gather information from a group, such as what is most common vs. least common to the group, most important vs. least important, most acceptable vs. least acceptable. In this case the girls were asked to identify the safest places vs. the least safe places around their community for meeting outside the GEF Kenya office. This exercise helped the girls understand more about the community where they live. Schools, churches and salons were some of the places they mentioned as safe places with bars/clubs being the least safe place.
Of course, if girls are working towards empowerment, boys need to buy-in and be aware of the need for identity and gender equality. The boys also had an interactive session with their facilitator who is a motivational speaker/youth leader in the community. They discussion centered on IDENTITY:
Who am I?
What defines me?
Do I like me? and if not, what should I do to make corrections?
What does a real man stand for?
What guides his life?
What forms boundaries of behavior?
The students have expressed that they are appreciative to have people talk to them about life skills, reproductive health and entrepreneurship because no one does this in school. The scholars were excited about the meeting and requested to have more time for such discussions.
Global Education Fund (GEF) Kenya was excited to graduate over 20 students in 2011 and happy to welcome our current secondary students back to school and back into the GEF Kenya Leadership Program after their holiday break.
As exciting as a new year always is, 2012 hasn’t been without its challenges, as secondary school fee structures showed a significant increase since last year. As students transition from primary to secondary school, we will be watching to see what the transition rate and subsequent drop out rates for 2012 will be. Education is critically important to families working to improve their circumstances and if school fees continue to increase, as we have seen happen over the past few years, more and more students will be shut out of school.
GEF Kenya was therefore happy it was able to accept more students into its Scholarship and Leadership Program. Additionally, the staff moved into a new office, centrally located among GEF Kenya students, where GEF Kenya looks forward to hosting its Leadership workshops, young women/mens’ safe space discussion groups and alumni meetings. The space also is ideal for a study space and library for students, and both students and staff are excitedly making plans for use of the building.
We thank you for your continued support and look forward to giving you another update soon!
Hunger is a major issue worldwide. This fact is even more prominent right now with a serious food crisis in East Africa. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., once said, “What effects one directly, effects all indirectly.”
While the students, who are in school because of Global Education Fund (GEF), are not starving like some Kenyan communities in the North, everyone is affected. Food prices are so high here in Nairobi that partner schools are over-spending their budgets in order to feed their students. At the end of last semester, the government even closed some schools early because of food security issues.
Recently GEF students honed their critical thinking skills when they discussed food security and its impact on the communities where they live. Facilitated by an expert in nutrition from Kenyatta University and supported by students from Africa Nazarene University (ANU) and GEF alumni, the food security workshop focused on the current famine in East Africa and what young Kenyan students think about food production and food security in Kenya.
At the beginning of the workshop, a group of GEF students presented a skit illuminating their understanding of hunger in Kenya: a rich family didn’t notice others going hungry and wasted their food, a poor family felt ashamed that they were forced to beg to feed their children, and a group of government officials horded donated food.
Following a conversation about the skit, students were divided into small groups and assigned a particular question to tackle:
Students presented their findings to the rest of the students, which led to a plenary session around common themes that emerged: the fear and social associations of fulltime, career farmers; the lack of understanding of markets; the diversification of food production; corruption within the food production industry and what everyone’s role is in this system.
Over lunch and at the end of the workshop, students continued their conversations about food security. Some discussed where the food from lunch came from, others talked about the potential in alternative food production and the market for these foods. In the discussion about food security within Kenya, students learned about their roles, as young Kenyans, in changing the attitude and systems surrounding food production and food security in order for everyone to be able to access nutritious, affordable food choices in their communities.
Bottom line: GEF students further developed their critical thinking skills in discussing ways to resolve a critical issue in their community – food security.
We are proud and excited that this is the fourth year of the Youth Scholarship & Leadership Program in Kenya.
This year GEF is sponsoring 77 secondary students; 25 of these young girls and boys are in their senior year of high school. This senior class is the first to have benefited from both GEF scholarships and the leadership program for all four years of high school. From these programs we have seen remarkable growth with our students - in their performance in school as well as in their transition out of high school. The 19 scholars who sat for their national exams last year did very well. Over 60% of the graduates score well enough to qualify for university and three students qualified for government subsidies for university. This is a significant accomplishment given that these students come from an area where only 5% of all students qualify for university each year.
Congratulations GEF Scholars and Thank You to our supporters!
Suzanne is currently in Kenya to support the GEF Kenya Advisory Board, Staff and Scholars. She has been updating everyone here at GEF of all of the great experiences and students that she has encountered. Everyone here at Global Education Fund is excited to share Suzanne's tales from Kenya, enjoy!
In the US, field trips are sometimes viewed as one offs for students to get a break from school, but it appears to be more of an integral piece to a holistic educational experience than anyone realizes. In February, GEF Kenya Scholars from Nairobi, along with mentor university students from ANU traveled to visit two hydroelectric plants. The objective for students was to see for themselves how these plants work, to learn from an engineer that works there and to spend time with their mentors. Luckily, the students got a lot more out of the experience than just this. In 2008, GEF organized an extended field trip for its Kenyan Scholars to spend a few days at the experiential learning center called Batian’s View. This continues to be the most talked about experience among those who went. Not only did they get away and broaden their world but they were experiencing things that, as one scholar put it, “had only seen previously on TV.”
In the educational system in Kenya, students attend primary school (grade 1-8), take the primary school exam (KCPE), then attend secondary school (form 1-4) if they are able to get into a school and afford the school fees. At the end of form 4, in the fall, students sit for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Examination (KCSE). Exam results are released in February or March of the following year. Students who score a B+ or better qualify for a government subsidized spot in a public university. Those who score a C+ or better qualify to attend public universities although they are responsible for covering all the fees themselves. Of course the qualifying scores for university are adjusted every year depending on how students perform. Waiting for the KCSE results to be released can seem like a lifetime for students, and once they are known, there is still a period of waiting and figuring out what to do next. For students who get a subsidized spot, they have to wait for another eight or nine months to start university. For students who don’t get in, they have to figure out what they are going to do next: if they can come up with the funding for university than they go in the fall; if not than they have to figure out another educational opportunity they can afford, find a job or anything else. It’s definitely a time of negotiation and trade offs.
Suzanne has been impressed that most of the 19 GEF students who sat for the KCSE last year have been busy working or actively job hunting, starting up small businesses or have already taken the initiative to apply for short-term vocational courses. Few of them were doing the KCSE waiting game; they were taking their lives after secondary school into their own hands while hoping that their KCSE results would offer more opportunities beyond what they were already finding for themselves. This is the third GEF class to complete the KCSE and it’s apparent that the students who have been with GEF for longer have benefited from the program in terms of confidence and creative thinking beyond secondary school and the KCSE. The class of 2010 did well on the KCSE. GEF is proud that many of the graduates have qualified for university and three have qualified for subsidized spots! This is a significant accomplishment. Congrats!
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