We are excited to introduce Shining Brighter!
As you may be aware, the Founder and our Board of Directors made several trips to Kibera, Kenya over the years (since 2013). They noticed two key educational gaps, specifically for girls in Kibera. Shining Scholar Sponsorship and Shining Brighter are the responses to those educational gaps.
We are proud to be one of several organizations that offers programs to serve the community with education sponsorship for High School which truly makes a difference, especially for girls. Our Shining Scholar Sponsorship program focuses on girls in High School because High School is where the dropping point is for most. The government covers education through 8th grade in government schools, or it covers the government fee portion only for education through 8th grade in private schools.
After the 8th grade, a student must score high enough on the final examinations to receive a full offer from a High School for study. If she doesn’t score high enough to receive an offer from a High School, she is left behind to find a community high school and cover the fees. All too often, the school fees are a barrier to attending at all, or a barrier to completing high school if the fees become too burdensome. We have seen where school fee accounts go into arrears which eventually leads to her being asked not to return to the school. These are the girls we focus on and our existing partnership with seven high schools has made it possible to help them remain in school.
As our Shining Scholars matriculate through high school, there is a growing concern about what comes next. Each Scholar automatically has a seat in our Maridadi Skills class if she is interested in joining until she determines what may be next for her. It keeps her engaged, she is learning an income-generating skill that will benefit her and her family, and she has the chance to create and maintain healthy relationships with other women at the same time.
We have been talking with some of the parents of our Scholars, and other women in the community, and have heard the following:
“There are several education sponsorship programs here serving in Kibera, but they only go up to High School, I have lived here my whole life and have been seeing this for years “ – S.A
“Why does every program seem to stop at High School?”
– High School Principal
“Is there anything out there that might reach even just one girl for college?”
“I was sponsored through High School and I am so grateful, but after I graduated High School, there was nothing else available. I worked hard in school, but was one that was left behind from early scores and when I was able to still go to High School under sponsorship, it definitely made a difference for me. After High School, Colleges and Universities were looking for very high scores for their scholarship to be offered and I just did not quite make their mark, not many do, but I worked hard and still did well in school. I finished and got a lot further than so many others. But……. I couldn’t go any further so I remained in Kibera, working at a small school for 100 ksh a day (about $1). It is the story of so many. There are so few opportunities for college unlike in other places of the world. While there is a loan available for college, so many from my community are not able to qualify or meet the work-income requirements anyway, so there is absolutely nothing”
In search for an answer to this second dropping off point in the education, our Founder looked for organizations that offered education beyond high school and was glad to have found a couple. Those that were found only had a few in school at the College or University level. After conversations with various University and College officials in the greater Nairobi area, we are excited to share that we have established Shining Brighter in response to this additional education gap. Shining Brighter is a scholarship fund that we hope to grow over time to be able to serve as many applicants as it can. There is now a process in place that includes a Shining Brighter application to our office alongside of the College application process to the College or University. We determined with some of the University officials that working within the Certificate level first would be best. It is a shorter obligation of study (6-8 months to complete), it is a goal that is achievable and it gives us all a chance to assess the student’s ability for additional studies. It is important to remember that the College or University is not guaranteeing admission of our girls, as they have their own admissions criteria and process, but they were glad to hear of a path for young women with something like this.
Shining Brighter received immediate support and an applicant! We are very excited to share that the applicant was accepted to the University she applied to and begins January 6, 2020. The Shining Brighter scholarship will cover the certificate level of study in full, including the required laptop, at this University!
We would like to thank the admissions officials for their assistance in supporting Shining Brighter!
Stay tuned for another blog post about who is going to be Shining Brighter and where!