Supported by the Government of Kenya, this unique partnership set out to bring 40,000 out of school children in Nairobi County back to school and retain them by 2019.
This was to ensure that they complete the learning cycle for primary school and make the transition into secondary school. OCTS was rolled out in 8 sub-counties targeting 350 public primary schools and selected Alternative Provision of Basic Education and Training (APBET) Institutions in Embakasi, Starehe, Kamukunji, Makadara, Mathare, Kasarani, Westlands and Dagoretti.
This project aligns itself with the National Education Sector Plan (whose overarching goal is Enhanced Quality Basic Education for Kenya’s Sustainable Development. NESP has identified school age population and out of school children in informal settlements as marginalized groups whose participation in education lags behind.
This project is also in tandem with Kenya’s Vision 2030 (recognizes that human resource capital as central to the country’s realization of sustainable development as an industrialized country that supports provision of high quality life for all citizens), the Constitution of Kenya and the Basic Education Act, 2013 (‘every child has the right to free and compulsory basic education’), and Sessional Paper No. 14 of 2012 (which redefined basic education to cover ECDE, primary, secondary and alternative approaches to basic education).To ensure that the 40,000 OOSC ( 50% girls) were enrolled and retained in school, WERK;
(i) Built the capacity of /sensitized the community, education officials at both national and county level, BOMs and the children themselves to mount vigorous and sustained enrolment and attendance drives;
(ii) Distributed back to school kits for the needy children to facilitate school enrollment;
(iii) Availed partial scholarships for selected children;
(iv) Improved the school sanitation condition by adopting UNICEF wash strategy to support school hygiene and boost attendance especially for girls;
(vi) Improved the skills of the stakeholders in child friendly Standards model to enhance retention;
(vii) Developed county-Level systems (including county attendance/enrolment drive strategy and documenting county level best practices in enrolment drives); and
(viii) Empowered the members of the Association of Complementary Schools of Kenya to aid registration of their member schools by Ministry of Education to access Free Primary Education fund.
As an overarching strategy, WERK periodically tracked each of the enrolled 40,000 children’s continuity of schooling status (Enrolment, attendance, retention, learning outcomes and transition)
What problem did the OCTS Project set out to address?
According to the 2009 Kenya Household Population Census (KHPC) an estimated 1.9 million primary school children aged 6-13 years and 2.7 million children aged 14-17 years were out of school. Some of the barriers and bottlenecks that perpetuate this phenomenon become more pronounced during the period of adolescence and are manifested particularly in the high inequalities witnessed in girls’ access to education and the dropout rates from primary school. Education officials estimate that 20 percent of boys and girls leave school after primary Class Seven and another 20 per cent between primary and secondary school.
The gender disparities in education are visible. According to UNICEF, one in every 10 girls miss four days of school a month due to inability to access feminine hygiene products.
Many families cannot afford the expenses associated with schooling. These include books, school uniform, stationery, lunch and transport. Compulsory free primary, and more recently secondary education was a positive policy move by the Government of Kenya, however the increased intake of learners has also meant that existing facilities are over- stretched. Class sizes are too large and teachers are few, learners share desks in cramped classrooms. It also means that sanitation facilities are overstretched and inadequate in many public schools.
The UNICEF Water, Sanitation and Health (WASH) strategy was adopted to improve the sanitation conditions in support of school hygiene and as a means of boosting school attendance especially for girls. As an important component in enhancing children’s retention in school, OCTS has focused on the renovation of vital structures in targeted schools. These facilities include classrooms, ablution blocks as well as the provision of UNICEF school kits comprising stationery, sanitary items including soaps, lotions and sanitary pads for pre-teens and teenagers among the girls to support their personal hygiene. The teenage boys’ pack include soap and lotion. The schools also receive a sports kit with items such as balls, nets and equipment to motivate and stimulate outdoor games.