Dekha… an AGI-K education champion
By Abey Abdimohamed
Accessing quality education has for a long time been a difficult venture for communities in Wajir County. Save the Children through the UKaid funded Adolescents Girls Initiative (AGI-K) project is enabling adolescent girls in Wajir County access basic education, health and life skills as well as basic financial management skills.
Dekha, 15 years old, is the second born in a family of five children living in Haragal Village, Wajir County. Dekha’s parents face financial difficulties and educating their children has not been easy. Dekha is a beneficiary of the AGI-K program and in 2016, despite experiencing various challenges she performed very well in her primary school education exams and transitioned to Alliance Girls High School.
Thanks to the AGI-K programme, Dekha has become a role model in her community, with most girls aspiring to follow in her footsteps.
Story in the beneficiaries own words:
Mr. Abdi Ibrahim Suleiman the head teacher at Haragal Primary school says: “Dekha is a very committed and determined girl. With support from her parents and AGI-K project staff she worked hard and scored 337 out of the possible 500 marks.”
Mr. Abdi Sheikh, Dekha’s father says: “My daughter was a bit disappointed with the results as she used to score over 380 marks in internal examinations before the KCPE and had hoped to score more than what she got. However, she was very happy when she received an admission letter from Alliance Girls high school. She joined two other girls who were also supported by the AGI-K project.”
Dekha attributes her good performance to her positive attitude towards all subjects, unmeasurable support from her teachers, hard work and determination. She is quick to mention the tremendous support accorded to her by Save the Children and her parents who bought her revision books, despite the fact that they were not well educated themselves.
“Before AGI-K came on board in 2015, my parents faced a lot of difficulty paying my fees. But they did their best. Save the Children also gave us schooling kits every term and this helped many girls like me attend school more, because we were safe from the challenges of menstruation. Before that, we often lost a week off school every month,” says Dekha.
She adds: “The schooling kits made us feel better as we could not ask our parents to provide us with the sanitary pads. From the kit provided by Save the Children, I used the 200 page note book to write my personal notes.’’
At Alliance, Dekha is studying 12 subjects. Asked about her performance for first term in 2017, Dekha says: “My best performance was in Biology, History and Chemistry
“Educating a girl is just as good as educating a boy and I would really encourage other parents to educate all their girls and boys,” says Mr. Abdi Sheikh.
When I grow up…
Whereas her father is keen to ensure that her daughter becomes a bank manager in future and her mother insists that she has to become a doctor, Dekha is passionate about law and wants to be a lawyer.
She says: “I want to be a lawyer to fight the injustices that the unfortunate people in the society go through. There are many people who are mistreated but do not have anyone to help them get their rights in the society. I want to fight for them when I become a lawyer.”
Asked what she liked most about the AGI-K interventions, Dekha says:
“The safe space is a good program. It gives girls of my age an opportunity to interact and learn topics like menstruation and finances which are difficult to discuss with our parents as they are considered a taboo. These have improved my self-esteem and confidence as I can now comfortably express myself and speak to anyone without fear. I also like the use of the radio sessions which made it easy for us to understand better the topics taught in the safe spaces. All the topics are very well presented and should continue being taught to all the girls.”
Through the financial education sessions Dekha says she learnt how to save and it enabled her to help her parents when they were lacking adequate financial support. “Before I joined Alliance high School, I had saved about KES 2,000 which I used as bus fare from school when we closed and my parents had not sent me fare. Part of it, I bought fruits and other snacks on my way home” she says.
Save the Children through the DFID-funded AGI-K program is promoting the well-being of young adolescents aged 11-14 years in 79 villages in Wajir. By working with community members in these villages the AGI-K project seeks to support the communities through community conversation approach to identify key socio-cultural issues that affect adolescent girls in Wajir County.
The project has supported 2,250 girls to access both primary and secondary education through conditional cash transfers as incentive to the households, schools and girls to routinely attend school and transition to the next level of education. Moreover, about 1,831 girls in 40 villages attend weekly classes held in safe spaces where they are taught by a trained female community member i.e. mentor on various health and life skills topics as well as financial education. These interventions have ensured that the adolescent girls like Dekha do not only stay longer in school, transition to the next level of education, gain health and financial knowledge to make independent decisions but are also protected against harmful socio-cultural practices that prevent them from realizing their full potential.
The Program is being implemented by a consortium led by Population Council in partnership with African Population Health and Research Centre (APHRC), Plan International, Save the Children and Itad. Save the Children is the implementing agency in Wajir while Plan International is the implementing partner in Kibera slums within Nairobi County whereas Population Council, APHRC and Itad are the research partners.