Kenyan Girl’s Forward (KGF) is an initiative under the Education Support and Mentorship Pillar of Rural Women Peace Link. KGF supports needy but capable students selected from various schools and having poor backgrounds. The program was introduced in 2012 following a visit by Caroline Jones and Jo Robertson in October 2011. Since then they have been able to support 79 young girls in achieving their dreams through individual sponsorship of their secondary and college education. Many girls have succeeded in warding off early marriage and Female Genital Mutilation and have embraced formal education.
The program is supported by a group of well-wishers and is guided by a common goal of Promoting Gender Equality by supporting girls’ access to education and life skills. Their main guiding Objectives are:
- To provide access to quality education for girls from underprivileged backgrounds
- To motivate young girls to take up leadership roles and participate in decision-making platforms
KGF focuses on support for girls who have performed exceptionally but lack funds to pursue secondary education. Under this model, the sponsors adopt a girl(s) and educate them through secondary school for three years. Each year these sponsors contribute between $350-$400 towards the education cost of the student allocated to them.
With this model, RWPL has been able to create a partnership with secondary schools with an agreement to have the best girls secure admission in the schools for quality education despite financial challenges. Each parent and guardian signs an agreement to take responsibility for the girls’ needs and agree to work collaboratively with teachers to provide both academic and emotional support to the girls.
The Kenyan Girl’s Forward model has enabled vulnerable students to access quality education and for the last six years many beneficiaries of the program have managed to join colleges and universities and have seen their lives changed. Twelve girls under the KGF sat the KCSE examination in November 2017 and out of that 8 managed to score a C+ and above securing a direct entry to the university. The four girls who scored less have since sought admissions to join vocational colleges and tertiary institutions to pursue diploma and certificate courses. In 2018, KGF has 9 girls undertaking the national examinations.
Case Study of Beneficiaries of KGF Education Support Program
Irene Kakuko: She underwent FGM before she was 10 and her parents were already grooming her for marriage at the age of 15. When she learned of her parents plan to marry her off to an old man as the fifth wife, Irene ran away to her uncle’s place carrying along a pen, a book, and a skirt though she could neither write nor read.
Under the guardianship of her uncle, Irene joined standard one at the age of 15 and never felt deterred by her age while in class with younger children. After seating for her Kenya Certificate of Primary Education, Irene scored 344 marks out of 500 and joined Kapropita Girls High School for her secondary education. It was while in her first year in secondary school that she was introduced to RWPL and was thereafter enrolled to the Kenyan Girls’ Forward Education Support and Mentorship program.
St. Martha’s Episcopal Church sponsored her secondary education under the program and she finally sat for her Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education exams in 2016 scoring a mean grade of C+. She secured admission to Masinde Muliro University to pursue her Bachelor’s degree.
Irene’s future looks bright now and she has already begun giving back to society by talking to the girls in her community about the importance of education and the effects of FGM and early marriage.
Mercy Jerop: RWPL interacted with her in 2011 during the International Women’s Day and she revealed that her family was experiencing financial hardship. Her Secondary School education was funded by well-wishers and RWPL intervened by clearing her school fees that had accrued hindering her from getting her final exam result slip in the process.
She received support while in the University through the KGF program and successfully completed her undergraduate studies in 2015. She is currently working as an Executive Director at RWPL. Her dream of enrolling in a higher institution was made possible through the support accorded to her by Jo Robertson and Kelly Brewer through RWPL under the KGF initiative.
Mercy is passionate about life and is able to relate well with others, she remains a role model in her community and family thanks to KGF.
Martha Maina: Martha understands the adverse effects of conflict. The post-election violence of 2007/2008 destroyed what her parents had labored for all their lives as their house was burnt down and the little property they had ended up being destroyed exposing them to abject poverty. RWPL’s intervention created a positive outcome in her life as her perception towards life was changed through guidance and encouragement.
She completed her Diploma in June 2015 in Nutrition and Dietetics which was a milestone achievement for her considering she was the first child in her family to join and complete college. Martha remains a role model in her family and is optimistic that in the next few years she will be able to pursue a degree in Nutrition and Dietetics.
She believes that through her profession, she will encourage people to eat a healthy diet in order to prevent health-related diseases that have resulted in many deaths.