Pursuing An Education in Kenya: When the Need to Work Outweighs the Need to Learn
Today, throughout the world, there are over 200 million children who have to work to survive. This is a travesty that gums up the gears of progress toward ending child poverty.
Children working to support their families and survive are most often not spending time in school, and we know that an education is invaluable – a major escape route from the cycle of intergenerational poverty.
To make matters even worse, the work these children must do to survive is often very dangerous.
Picture this: a garbage dump as far as the eye can see. You and your family have to work there, all day every day, to find enough valuables in the trash to sell to keep a roof over your head and food on your plate. Sometimes you find valuable plastics and metals. Sometimes you find food to eat. Sometimes you find nothing.
In this dumpsite near the Kibera informal settlement in Nairobi, Kenya, you can find everything from medical waste to hazardous chemicals from nearby factories. For 8 year old Agnes, it’s a living – she and her family scavenge through this dump to find valuables and survive.
Instead of attending school, Agnes spends nearly 12 hours working each day at the dump to help her family. While Agnes’s grandmother wishes for her to get an education in Kenya, the entire family needs to work to ensure they can pay their rent and have food on the table.
Since making primary education free for all, Kenya has seen an uptick in enrollment. However children, especially girls, living in extreme poverty are still falling between the cracks. While country-wide rates of primary school enrollment progress their way toward 80%, some regions with high levels of poverty see as little as 19% of girls enrolled in school. And sadly, even if girls do complete primary school, they are still less likely to get an education beyond those initial years.
Getting an education in Kenya for girls
While there’s still a lot of work to do, your donations to Red Nose Day are already helping girls change their stories for good by getting an education in Kenya.
Agnes is now a student at the Pendekezo Letu School in Nairobi, where your donations support a program that helps children get back on track with their education while building confidence and self-esteem.
Agnes, who is now 10 years old, is thriving at school. Her favorite subject is English, and she still dreams of becoming a pilot. “She’s a totally different Agnes from the one at the dumpsite,” says one of her teachers.
An education in Kenya, and all over the world, can open up opportunities for all children. But for those living in poverty, it’s a lifeline – the key to breaking an intergenerational cycle of poverty. Together, we can end this injustice and help children everywhere create a better future, just like Agnes is today.
Children need your help now.
The impact of the COVID-19 crisis threatens children living in poverty in an unprecedented way. Your gift to Red Nose Day supports our efforts to keep children safe, healthy, and educated in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic.