Overcoming barriers for girls and young women in Kenya's schools
In Kenya, the GE Foundation is funding the Four Pillars PLUS program, which strengthens the paths to success for girls and young women. The project provides mentoring for girls, scholarships and teacher professional development, and facilitates community participation. These four pillars target key factors preventing girls and boys from continuing their education and address the broken bridge between primary and secondary school.
To mitigate the economic constraints families face in sending girls to school, in 2011 the project supported 508 students with scholarship packages in 10 primary and 17 secondary schools in southwestern Kenya. The project is also supporting 20 students with internships at a polytechnic institute. FHI 360 trained 97 teachers on gender-sensitive teaching methodologies to improve educational quality and also trained 47 male and female mentors (teachers and members of the community) to facilitate sessions for over 1,200 girls and boys in primary and secondary school. By the end of 2012, the project will conclude activities in the 10 primary schools, having made positive contributions and a long-lasting impact on these communities.
FHI 360 has worked closely with the communities to ensure they have developed mechanisms to continue many of the Four Pillars strategies implemented over the last four years. The communities themselves wish to sustain the activities and have been empowered to do so. For example, 47 mentors established a community-based organization in their district to continue the mentoring support; 15 Saving and Internal Lending Communities (SILK) have been established; 10 4K Clubs are active; and the 30-member North Gem Child Support Network acts as a referral system for orphans and other children experiencing violence in and around the schools. The Four Pillars PLUS project will continue to support students in their secondary school education and provide career guidance and counseling to prepare them with skills and knowledge that can transfer into internships and employment. The project demonstrates that a holistic approach can create powerful synergies to narrow the gender gap in the classroom and get girls and boys one step closer to fulfilling their dreams.