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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

President Kenyatta to co-host an education fundraiser, set to benefit Turkana girls

By Moses Ochengo

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President Uhuru Kenyatta and his UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson counterpart will convene a fundraiser summit on July 28-29 in London, to raise $5 billion (Sh535 billion) for education programmes in 76 lower-income countries.

The initiative is spearheaded by Global Partnership for Education (GPE), and aimed at supporting education projects in poor countries in the global south.

Kenya is one of the countries earmarked for pilot project of the programme, before it is finally implemented in the rest of the countries in the world. 22,000 learners in Turkana County will be beneficiaries of  $900,000 (Sh97.2 million) trial programme.

Turkana was selected because of the marginalisation of the girlchild and proneness to adverse factors. The GPE-Elimika Project, will be steered by GPE in partnership with Rotary International and the Ministry of Education.

The pilot project will be implemented for three years in Turkana County. The region has been plagued with high girl-child dropouts, early/forced marriage and other outdated practises that impede girls from attaining quality education.   

Under the project, the GPE-Elimika Project intends to train 300 teachers and 160 support staff in 50 schools with competencies in the County.

Dorcas Lokidor, a local deputy headteacher at Loyo Primary Schoo, lamented on the higher cases of premature pregnancies and school dropouts. She said that her school has tried to deescalate the situation of girls becoming mothers in their teenage years.

The deputy headteacher also revealed that the school had to intervene after a 16-year-old  Deborah, Standard Seven pupil gave birth and parents were reluctant to let her continue with the studies.

“The school has a strong guidance and counselling unit that inspires hope in our girls. We try to encourage the teen mothers to get back on track as soon as they give birth and support them by allowing them to take their children for clinic visits or to breastfeed their children during break. They must, however, remain focused on their academics,” Ms Lokidor said.

Teen pregnancies and access to quality education

Deborah’s situation is one of the many case predicaments that affect girl’s education in marginalised areas.

“We earmarked Turkana based on the alarming rate of dropouts witnessed in the county. We need to act fast to save the girls, who still experience more hurdles than their male counterparts when pursuing quality life,” noted Geeta Manek, a Rotary Foundation trustee.

The pastoralists lifestyle of the Turkana people has been cited as one of the factors encumbering access to quality education in Turkana. The region is characterised with high levels of illiteracy.

“The GPE programme mobilises global and national efforts to contribute to the achievement of equitable quality education and learning for all,” noted GPE chief executive officer Alice Albright during the GPE launch in Nairobi.

The project will develop and implement psychosocial support to teachers, non-teaching staff, learners and parents during the exercise.

The ambitious educational project will equip teachers with transferable skills and competencies, innovative curriculum delivery and ICT skills.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has driven creativity in our learning institutions, which calls for more stakeholder engagement across every tier. The GPE project will help accelerate the use of digital learning materials among underserved communities,” said Elyas Abdi, the director-general at the Ministry of Education.

The GPE-Elimika Project was fronted by the Rotary Club of Muthaiga and Metro Bethesda in Washington, DC, with implementation support from the Rotary clubs of Karen, Nairobi-East, Ruiru, Nairobi Connect and Nairobi-Lang’ata.

Other countries to be involved in the pilot project are Uganda, Ethiopia, Ghana, Zambia, select countries Asia and South America. The project will also be rolled out to other counties in Kenya.

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