The objective of this vital pillar is to provide access to quality education for girls from underprivileged backgrounds and to motivate young girls to take up leadership roles and participate in decision-making platforms.
The Mentorship and Girls Education Support program targets girls from humble backgrounds who face the risk of dropping out of school and who are often victims of gender discrimination. The program is aligned to SDG 4 (Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all) and SDG 5 (Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls). The program has an open structure that gives opportunity to local and international well-wishers to make an impact in the lives of young needy girls by supporting their formal education. The beneficiaries enrolled in the program are usually identified through RWPL network leaders and school principals who are in a better position to identify a needy student. Every December of each year, RWPL normally convenes an Annual Mentorship Forum that brings together all the students in the program where they get to learn about career development, life skills among other topics.
The program has two long-standing donors: Phyllis and Jack Courtney Endowment Fund and Kenyan Girls Forward initiative.
Phyllis And Jack Courtney Endowment Fund
This joined the program in 2003 and is meant for girls affected by Female Genital Mutilation and offers partial financial support to girls who have been identified as needy by RWPL’s network leaders and school teachers. Others, however, get to be supported fully based on how dire their situation is.
Kenyan Girls Forward
Kenya Girls Forward Initiative was introduced in 2012 following Caroline Jones and Jo Robertson’s visit to Kenya in October 2010. They had an opportunity to interact with many girls who were dropping out of school for a myriad of reasons while at the same time getting to understand about what RWPL’s work in rescuing girls from FGM and supporting their formal education. This greatly inspired them and they had lengthy discussions with RWPL regarding how they could support the work RWPL was doing. KGF was thus born.
Over the years KGF, under the leadership of Caroline and Jo, has brought hope to many lives and has enabled many young girls achieve their dreams. A total of 65 students have been supported since its inception. In 2017, 12 girls being supported by KGF sat for their KCSE examination. Out of these, 8 managed to secure direct entry to universities; this means their school fee is subsidized. The other four are also seeking admissions to join vocational colleges and tertiary institutions to pursue diploma and certificate courses. Currently, the KGF program is supporting 23 girls in high schools and 4 in universities.
Lucy is a vivid testament of the impact the Girl-Child Education and Mentorship has had on needy girls and the communities they hail from. Lucy, from Kapkaragon Village in Nandi County, was a bright young girl who dropped out of school at a young age and got married off by her parents at 16 years of age. Two children later, she found herself being ejected from her matrimonial home by her abusive husband. In 2012, Lucy moved to Eldoret and got herself a job as a house help. As it turned out, RWPL got to hear Lucy’s story through her employer and after establishing that her need was genuine she got enrolled into the program. She finished her high school education scoring a mean grade of C+ and got admission to Laikipia University where she is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in Education.
Visible Impact: Over 100 girls from vulnerable backgrounds, with compounding problems ranging from forced marriages, early marriages or FGM have been supported through high schools. Of these, 15 have successfully gone through university education and lived to tell their successful stories. Most are now also role models in their communities. Through the mentorship and advocacy outreach, many girls who drop out of school owing to early pregnancies are also being persuaded to resume education, as parents also appreciate the need to sponsor them.