Wednesday 17 December 2014

Habiba Aden Mohamed is 15 years old, and with support from Save the Children’s Cash Transfer Programme, she is in standard seven at Balambala primary school in Garissa County.


Located in North East Kenya, Garissa County has a predominantly Somali ethnic population. Due to a number of cultural traditions, a large percentage of girls don’t get the opportunity to go to school. These include early marriage, which can see girls married as early as 10 years old; a tendency to prioritise educating boys; and a reliance on girls to substitute family incomes.


As well as this, there are numerous external factors affecting girl school enrolment and attendance, including lack of gender-sensitive sanitation facilities; difficulty recruiting female teachers; and poor teacher-training on inclusive gender-sensitive teaching methods. Combined, these factors result in just 44% of girls enrolling in school.


Save the Children’s DfID funded Cash Transfer Programme was launched in July 2013 with the aim of reducing financial barriers to education. With 4,000 families taking part across 31 villages, the pilot programme is also generating evidence on the relative impact that conditional and unconditional transfers can have on attendance and retention rates, particularly amongst girls like Habiba.


Habiba lives in a grass thatched house with her widowed mother, Dola, and five siblings. Dola is a small scale farmer along the river Tana; it is a tough job that pays poorly, and the proceeds are too small for Dola to feed her family of seven, let alone consider paying for school costs such as uniforms and books.


Dola was identified by the community as a potential beneficiary for the Cash Transfer programme, and was selected to be one of the Conditional Transfer households. She receives 3000 Kenyan Shillings (KSH) a month through M-pesa mobile money as long as Habiba attends school at-least 80% the time.


“I’m very grateful to my mother because she can now afford to look after my welfare and I’m able to attend class regularly. My mother did not go to school, but at least she is now able to afford education for my other brothers and sisters. I want to utilise this chance and be different from other girls who have dropped out of school due to labour works, poverty, and early marriage. When I grow up, I want to be become a doctor and earn good money to support my family”


Since the programme started, Habiba’s monthly school attendance averages at 99% - only on one occasion has she not managed 100% attendance.


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.