In Kenya, our Girls’ Education Challenge project is helping girls into vocational training to help them set up their own businesses. Among the more than 3,700 girls who have benefitted from bursaries for secondary schooling or vocational training, several are now employed to make protective face masks to combat the spread of Covid-19.
Our Girls’ Education Challenge (GEC) project – Wasichana Wetu Wafaulu (‘Let our girls succeed’) – supports girls in education and training across three pathways. While the main pathway focuses on enabling girls to transition from primary to secondary school, and the second seeks to help out-of-school girls to re-enroll and catch up, the third and final pathway supports girls in their transition from either primary or catch-up education to vocational training and apprenticeships. Over 400 girls to date have benefitted from the project’s bursary fund for this third pathway, enabling them to undertake vocational training.
In the past month, in Tana River County, three girls have received assistance from the GEC project to train to make protective face masks, which are to be distributed by the county government in a bid to limit the spread of Covid-19. The bursary has covered their training fees at the vocational centre in Tana River, where, as part of their employment, the girls are provided with transport, breakfast, lunch and a daily stipend. In addition to helping the girls to gain important vocational skills, this also enables them to make savings. When their training is complete, the programme will also give the girls start-up kits to help them set up their own businesses.
Fatuma, 19, is one of the girls benefitting from the programme. Since beginning her training, she has opened a bank account where she deposits her daily stipends and intends to save enough to buy her own sewing machine and materials to start her business.
“I was making masks at home using my aunt’s machine when I heard about the opportunity through a friend of mine,” she explains. “Being a Grade II student and having acquired the necessary basic tailoring skills, I opted to join and our manager was happy to have me on board.”
The Girls’ Education Challenge is funded by the UK Department for International Development and adopts a holistic approach to change culture and behaviours to ensure marginalised girls can benefit from education. We work with almost 65,000 girls in rural, pastoral communities across Kenya, as well as in urban slums, on improving access to and the quality of education. By working with girls, families and communities, as well as educational institutions, we seek to create sustainable change as we help girls access life-changing education.