Visiting the High Schools in Kenya is something we really look forward to when we are in Kenya! It gives us a chance to deepen our relationships in the community, build with the Principal/Director of the school, and learn about the challenges the Teachers and Administrators face.
Recently, we met with Principal Bernard at a community school in Kibera where he serves 185 students, although every term they are growing with enrollment. High School is not free in Kenya so this is a challenge for families in Kibera and it leaves many outside of the classroom, especially the girl child. UNESCO (2017) notes that only 46% are in High School, that is less than half of the kids that can go to High School.
While several barriers to attending High School in Kenya exist, school fee is the most cited reason we hear. Even when the student earns marks high enough to be invited to a Boarding School to study without a direct school fee, the costs of materials, uniform, transport, lunch, and activity fees leave the student in the same position, outside of the classroom. When this happens, they turn to local Day Schools in the Kibera community where there is still a school fee required.
Principal Bernard has been serving this community school in Kibera for almost two years now and truly loves his job. Prior to coming to this community school, he taught at other schools for about five years in the subject areas of Chemistry, Math, and Geography. We asked Bernard what it was about being a teacher that he likes and he said “This is more than being a teacher, you end up helping students in so many other ways since they are vulnerable and disadvantaged. Parents have severe difficulty paying school fees and often don’t. So, what am I to do? Turn them away and watch them do nothing in the streets? I can’t, I know what awaits them, especially the girls! The girls will become available to sex trafficking or some even early marriage. Sometimes the girl is pushed for early marriage to ease the burden of educating them and meeting their needs in the home. This is an everyday challenge," says Bernard.
There are other barriers to the girls attending school. Bernard shared that “When the girls don’t have sanitary towels (pads), they are absent from school. This could be a week or week and a half sometimes and they are missing valuable time in the classroom. I would really appreciate more girls being helped to get an education, not enough girls get their education.”
The Angaza Project appreciates knowing Mr. Bernard and we look forward to finding ways where we can work together in the community from time to time. If you are interested in becoming a Shining Scholar Sponsor for a young lady, visit our website information www.theangazaproject.org/sponsorship - we would be glad to have you join us!
Below is a photo of Mr. Bernard! He is so proud that some girls in his school won best team for soccer! Congratulations to you Mr. Bernard!