The Adolescent Girls Initiative-Kenya, being implemented in 176 primary schools in Nairobi, focuses on tackling barriers to girls’ education.
“Most girls fail to attend school because of reasons such as lack of school fees, school uniform or sanitary pads. Through this project, we encourage girls to attend by providing a termly incentive,” says Joy Koech, AGI-K Project Manager.
She spoke during a visit to 2 schools in Kibera where a delegation from Population Council, Department for International Development (DFID) and Plan International Kenya monitored progress. DFID funds the project that is implemented by Plan International Kenya and other partners.
School attendance boost
To encourage the girls attend school regularly, at least 80 per cent, there is an incentive that is pegged on regular attendance. A biometric kit is used to monitor attendance.
In cases where the girls fail to show up for lessons for a prolonged time, Plan International Kenya follows up to find out why and if possible see to it that they go back to class.
In Olympic Primary School, the pupils find the process of an automated tracking system an incentive to go to school.
“It is always reassuring when the girls come to tell us that they want to be clocked in. This initiative has made the children feel like someone is taking care of them and most of the girls who are not in the project keep coming to me to ask if they can also be registered,” says Dorothy, a teacher.
There are 2,089 girls enrolled in the programme. The girls undergo training on sexual reproductive health and mentorship programmes that equip them with knowledge and skills to make the right choices.
Research shows that adolescent girls aged between 11-14 years face risks and vulnerabilities that affect their health and general well-being. These risks include early marriage, teenage pregnancy, unprotected sex, gender-based violence, social isolation and HIV and Aids.
Spurgeon Academy that mainly admits orphans and vulnerable children has not been left behind. In one instance, says the head teacher, one of the 19 girls enrolled to the programme was so determined not to be absent that despite being ill, came to school just to log in.
Such is the determination of girls to ensure that they are not absent from school, a positive outcome in areas where girls rarely join secondary school.