Malala Yousafzai famously said that “one book, one pen, one teacher and one child” could change the world. Nowhere in that sentence does it specify how much money the child has, the background or race of the teacher or the creed of either of them. Any child, with the requisite encouragement and resources can do remarkable things regardless of where they come from. Problems only arise when a child does not have such things; hence their potential is taken from them. Many children in Kakamega County do not get the opportunity to have an education. Indeed, only 12% of students in Kakamega complete secondary school.
Lack of funding for education in developing countries is of growing concern. Unfortunately, enrolling children in school does not guarantee any progress in the way of learning. Hunger is a major constraint and can have long-term psychological and physical effects on children and makes learning substantially more difficult. Without the right nutrients, students may lack the energy to pay attention. Additionally, the brain develops rapidly at a young age, and without the right nutrients, the brain cannot develop properly resulting in poorer learning capabilities. The indirect cost of education also prevents many children from attending school. Separate to the direct cost of being at the school itself, indirect cost refers to the all the expenses that must be paid in order to attend; such as the cost of the school uniform, the cost of the books needed for learning and sanitary products.
In Counties such as Kakamega children do not have the money or resources, to attend, or learn at educational institutes. Ace Africa, recently supported by Lord Deedes of Aldington Trust, Gerald palmer and Souter trusts, will aim to improve the lives of 400 children through establishment of child-to-child clubs. These clubs will teach them key life skills, giving children the knowledge and skills to tackle daily life in rural East Africa. Agriculture and nutrition education will also be given, teaching the children to be able to grow their own food at kitchen gardens at school and at home, which will also help their household. Children will grow a variety of highly nutritious vegetables, including local (e.g. amaranth, black nightshade, clotolaria, sun help) and exotic (e.g. spinach, pumpkin, watermelon, vitamin A potato) food crops. Finally, students will learn about health and with a particular focus on HIV/AIDS education, including topics of prevention, transmission, stigma and treatment.
Child-to-child clubs provide a safe environment for young people to openly discuss and reflect on everyday issues that they may face. Now, as active decision makers, children become more influential agents for change through making positive health and lifestyle choices that affect them, their school and their community. Teachers trained within the programme are trained to cover child health, development and wellbeing and are supplied with a manual, which covers all the key components of the child-to-child methodology. This means a process of peer education will be possible as the students will learn and grow together. Ace Africa focuses its efforts on schools with a high percentage of orphans and vulnerable children making sure those who are most in need receive our support.
Thank you to the Lord Deedes Ttrust, Gerald palmer and Souter trusts for funding this programme this year and supporting over 400 students achieve sustainable futures in rural Western County.
By intern, Jordan Howard Smith, Year 11, Eton College