Salma’s story… What works to keep girls in school?
By Muktar Muhumed
Salma Mohamud is a 15 year old girl from Wajir County. In the year 2015, Salma was on the verge of dropping out of school and getting married after completing her primary education.
“My family could not send me to secondary school. I learned from my ailing father that my family was struggling and my secondary education was a luxury they could not afford. I knew that I would stay home and eventually get married,” says Salma.
All dreams seemed shattered for Salma – but Save the Children through the Adolescent Girls Initiative (AGI-K), came to Salma’s rescue. She was enrolled into the cash transfers programme and joined Sabuli Secondary School.
Salma who is the eldest daughter in a family of six children shares her joy of getting an education: “I was very happy when I learnt that Save the Children was going to pay my school fees and I would continue with my education,” says Salma
Salma wants to become a teacher and hopes to help other girls in Wajir to acquire education without interference from their parents. She says: “I want to create awareness in my community so that girls’ education is equally prioritised as the boys’ education.” She believes that with sensitisation and consistent community engagement, girls in her region will get quality education.
Mr. Mohamed Baraki, the headteacher at Sabuli Secondary School says: “Salma has the desire to prosper in future. She has a hidden potential and is always strict with her education. She will one day be an example to many disadvantaged girls in her community who lack opportunities to learn and explore their talent.”
The AGI-K programme is supporting girls in school and those willing to join schools with school fees of up to Ksh 700 for girls in primary schools, Ksh 5,000 for those in secondary schools, Ksh 500 for the school and Ksh 3,000 per term for the parents. This is on condition that the girls attain 80% attendance per school term.
Salma’s mother, Mrs. Adey is happy about her daughter’s access to secondary education. She says: “Save the Children is making the girls’ dreams come true. My daughter always thought of continuing her education even after we told her we couldn’t afford her fees. Because of your support, she is doing very well in school!” Mrs Adey promises to keep Salma in school and says her previous mind-set about girls’ education was unjustified.
Salma is one of the many girls in Northern Kenya who unlike boys, face diverse discrimination such as early and forced marriages, social isolation, poverty among other obstacles that hinder their access to education.
According to the area Assistant Chief Mr. Jibril Adan, Projects like DFID-funded AGI-K can improve and help many girls to further their education beyond primary level. “We need to educate our girls since educating a girl child helps to eradicate poverty at the household level,” says Adan.
Adolescent girls in Kenya and in particular those from the North Eastern region face huge risks and vulnerabilities that affect their education status, health and general wellbeing.
Save the Children through the DFID-funded AGI-K program is supporting 2,250 girls to access both primary and secondary education through conditional cash transfers as an incentive to the households, schools and girls to routinely attend school and transition to the next level of education. The program supports girls in school and those willing to join schools with school fees of up to Ksh 700 for girls in primary schools, Ksh 5,000 for those in secondary schools, Ksh 500 school incentives for the schools the girls are enrolled to. Schooling kits containing basic hygiene and education items are also provided to the girls whereas their parents (households’ heads) are provided with Ksh 3,000 per term. These cash transfers to the schools, girls and households heads are all paid conditional to enrolment and 80% attendance to school by the girls in a term. In addition to the cash transfers, the program also supports communities in 79 villages across Wajir County to identify the underlying root causes that lead to discrimination against girls, identify solutions and implement them to ensure that girls get equal access to education.
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.