Let all girls learn

Tony McAleavy

    

Our work in Kenya, part of the UK government Department for International Development (DFID) Girls' Education Challenge, has been identified as one of the most effective GEC Step Change projects in the world.

Between 2013 and 2017, Education Development Trust designed and delivered a large-scale education reform  programme in Kenya, intended to improve the life chances of some particularly disadvantaged girls. This was funded by the UK government Department for International Development (DFID) as part of the UK global Girls’ Education Challenge (GEC) Step Change programmes. We called our project Wasichana Wote Wasome; Kiswahili for ‘let all girls learn’.

Wasichana Wote Wasome, WWW for short, has been demonstrably successful; here we look at why.

WWW was implemented in two distinct and very different contexts: largely rural arid and semi-arid lands (ASAL) and urban slums in the major cities of Nairobi and Mombasa. Although different in many ways, these two settings have in common the prevalence of communities that are extremely deprived economically, where women and girls often lead very difficult lives.

Our focus was on 500 primary schools across the two contexts: 250 schools in the ASAL counties of Turkana, Marsabit, Samburu, Tana River, Kwale and Kilifi and 250 schools in the suburban slums in Mombasa and Nairobi.

We identified out-of-school girls in the local communities served by these schools and encouraged them to enrol or return. We sought to ensure that those girls already in the schools stayed in school and had a positive experience, with good outcomes in terms of academic performance, healthy lifestyles, ambitions and self-confidence.

We worked closely on implementation with staff employed by the government of Kenya. We led a consortium of partner organisations, each bringing specialist expertise: Concern Worldwide, Girl Child Network, AMURT, Women Educational Researchers of Kenya (WERK).

Above all, we engaged with the girls – and the boys – in the counties where we were operating, together with their parents, teachers, school leaders and community representatives.