Wednesday 17 December 2014

With Save the Children’s support, seven year old Arale Osman from Garissa County, is attending school against all odds.


Garissa County has some of Kenya’s lowest school enrolment and attainment figures with 40% of children aged six to 17 having never attended school. The population consists predominantly of pastoralists, living nomadic lifestyles moving their herds with the rains. This makes attending school very challenging for children. Other barriers to education include: extreme poverty, with many households exist on less than $1 a day; a difficulty in recruiting teachers to work in remote areas; and traditional practices such as early marriage and prioritising the education of boys over girls.


In 2013, Save the Children launched a Cash Transfer programme, piloted across 31 villages in Garissa County. 4,000 families are involved, and the programme aims to reduce financial barriers to accessing primary education, particularly for girls. Arale’s grandmother - Fatuma - is one of the beneficiaries of the programme. Arale’s father died three years ago, after which his mother remarried and moved way, leaving Arale and his three siblings with their grandmother in Kotile village. Arale is disabled and unable to walk. His mother had carried him to school, but when she left he dropped out.

Fatuma lives in severe poverty, meaning she struggles to look after her grandchildren. The five of them have just a few goats to live off.


When the Cash Transfer Pilot was launched, a community committee in Kotile recommended that Fatuma take part as a beneficiary. She was selected to receive a cash transfer of 3,000 Kenyan Shillings (KSH), transferred monthly by M-pesa mobile money, on the condition that Arale attends school at least 80% of every month.


The programme has led to Arale being re-enrolled in the ECDC (Early Child Development Centre) at the nearest primary school. Fatuma carries him there and back every day, a distance of just over two kilometres. She has used the money to buy his uniform and books, as well as contributing 300 KSH monthly to the ECDC teachers.


The biggest difference to this family however, is that Fatuma is making a monthly saving of 500 KSH to buy a wheelchair – something that will enable Arale to independently get himself to school every day. Arale plans to become a doctor, using his education to prevent other disabled children from being marginalised.


More about Save the Children’s Cash Transfer Programme

The Cash Transfer Programme aims to determine whether placing a condition on a monthly cash transfer has an impact on school attendance, particularly amongst girls. 1,500 families receive 3,000 KSH a month, conditional on a tracked child achieving <80% monthly school attendance; 1,500 families receive 3,000 KSH per month with no conditions attached, and 1,000 families form the control group.


Data collected over the first 16 months demonstrates that children within the conditional cohort have a significantly higher average school attendance, at 88% for girls and 89% for boys. There has been a marked rise in school attendance across all three cohorts, with boys and girls in the control group achieving 68% average attendance. The programme to date has resulted in an additional 3,742 children enrolling in school, 1/3 of whom are not being tracked by the pilot, demonstrating a wider community benefit. For Garissa County, which at the last count, had just 44% of girls and 57% of boys enrolled in school, this will make a demonstrable difference.