Since Kenya’s Education Policy introduced the implementation of the free primary education programme, about 1 million-school going age children are still out of school. These children include, orphans and vulnerable children, those with special needs, the rural poor, those living with HIV and AIDS and children living in urban slums.
Despite this programme being a step in the right direction, families living in the Siaya County, where Ace Africa work, are struggling to afford the rest of the expenses associated with schooling – such as uniforms and sanitary towels. The latter is resulting in girls feeling isolated as they are forced to miss school due to a lack of access to sanitary pads and pants.
Since December 2014, the Angus Lawson Memorial Trust and MacBevan Fund spotted an opportunity to support the provision of sanitary pads, uniforms and in-school counselling in order to increase the attendance of children, especially girls, going to school. In the past year 2,000 girls were provided with sanitary pads and 250 vulnerable children were provided with school uniforms. Ace counsellors followed these children in schools and at their households to monitor both attendance and progress, as well as counselling them through any issues they faced in school.
“My uniform was badly torn. I felt embarrassed. I wanted to sit most of the times, because I never wanted to expose my poor uniform. I now have self-worth and value.” Class 6 beneficiary.
Before the provision of sanitary pads, girls missed an average of 70 school days a year, which has now fallen to less than 10 days missed on average. This has also led to an enhanced confidence in class, higher attendance in schools along with a stronger retention and transition to the next stage in their education.
This project has also benefited 39 students from the tailoring department of Got Matar Institute of Technology, who were given the opportunity to fit the school uniforms. The money they made from making school uniforms has been used to subsidise their school fees.
Guardians and parents have also been educated during community forums on the need to plan and provide the basics such as sanitary pads to their daughters in order for them to achieve an improved performance.
The support of ALMT and the Macbevan fund has been invaluable, and we would like to take this opportunity to pass on our most heartfelt of thanks for making such a difference to these children’s lives and for your continued support of Ace Africa.