Impact Report

Let all girls learn

Tony McAleavy

Our work in Kenya, part of the UK government Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) Girls' Education Challenge, has been identified as one of the most effective GEC Step Change projects in the world. In this publication, Tony McAleavy, Director of Research and Consultancy at Education Development Trust, looks at why we were so successful.

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 Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) 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’.

Understanding local barriers

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.

Targeted interventions

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).

Effecting long-term change

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 representative.

Download the pdf, right, to read the full report.