High School in Kenya
The most important thing you need to know about high school (or secondary school) in Kenya is that even at government schools it is not free. It costs between $500 and $1000 a year (including tuition, boarding fees, books, uniforms etc) to send one student to high school. In a country where the average annual income is around $750 dollars and the average household size is 5 people, this puts sending even one child to high school out of reach for many families.
What is the Kenya Education Fund?
The Kenya Education Fund was founded by Bradley Broder in 2005 in response to this tremendous need. Broder is a former Peace Corps volunteer who lived in Kenya near Amboseli National Park from 1999 to 2001. While living in Kenya he found that help with school fees was BY FAR the most common request he got when the Kenyans in his community came to him for help. He started paying for a few students himself, overtime got his family and friends to help as well and the seeds for of Kenya Education Fund were planted.
While the idea to provide scholarships is pretty straightforward, from his experience living in Kenya Bradley was convinced that these kids needed additional support that was often left out of their formal schooling. In response, KEF added a mentoring component to its work which is now as central to the organization’s mission as the scholarships.
KEF’s Mentoring Workshops are designed to provide high school students with psychosocial support that will boost their academic performance and give them the skills to succeed. The workshops include classes to bolster their computer and resume writing skills, HIV/AIDs education workshops and making social workers available to children who need to talk. KEF invites successful Kenyan entrepreneurs, university students and social workers to lead these workshops in a way that is both culturally relevant and fun for our students. KEF is able to offer these Mentoring Workshops for free to first and third year KEF high school students. KEF’s ultimate goal in providing this kind of support in addition to scholarships is to encourages their students to think critically and to take ownership of their own education and personal development in high school and beyond.
Another essential element of KEF’s program is diversity among the students they select. The students are half male and half female and represent Kenya’s regional and tribal diversity. As a result of their new partnership with the Nomadic Kenyan Children’s Education Fund (which was finalized in early 2011) 50 percent of the program’s students are from nomadic tribes whose families face particular challenges in sending them to secondary school’s far from home.
The Kenya Education Fund has had great success. Today it supports more than 500 students in roughly 240 high schools, colleges, and universities across all 8 provinces of Kenya and is among the largest NGOs of its kind in terms of the number of high school beneficiaries with 4-year boarding scholarships. One former KEF student, Viona Shina Leboo, is on her way to Harvard on a scholarship from the Equity Bank Foundation (check out KEFs Facebook page for more updates like this).
Sponsoring a Student
Despite this tremendous success there is plenty of room for growth. While KEF gets more than 1000 applicants a year, with their current funding they are only able to support 10-15% of those applicants, 100-150 students a year. That’s where you come in! You could support the education of a high school boy or girl for only $50 a month. Sponsors are assigned to a specific student and while most never meet them in person, you will receive updates from KEF and letters from the student throughout their 4 years of school. Many sponsors have developed strong bonds with their students, some choosing to support them at university as well. For sponsors who are lucky enough to travel to Kenya on safari (which Broder says happens a few times a year) KEF will make sure that you get the chance to meet the student you have sponsored, often by bringing them to Nairobi. You can also chose to donate to KEF without supporting a specific student, these donations go toward the organizations on-going expenses such as Kenyan staff salaries or costs associated with the mentoring program.
KEF and Extraordinary Journeys
Extraordinary Journeys is incredibly excited about our partnership with KEF. They are now among the handful of organizations that we donate to on behalf of every client who travels with us. In addition, we are happy to clients information about sponsoring individual students if that is something that interests them (some of our very own staff members sponsor students!). Finally, if you are sponsoring a student already and want to visit them as part of your trip, we can work with KEF to arrange that.
The Kenya Education Fund is dedicated to providing disadvantaged students in Kenya the educational support and resources necessary to enable them to contribute fully to the growth of their country and our global community and we are thrilled to be supporting them in that effort.