Strathmore alumni making education accessible in Turkana County
Three Strathmore alumni, born and raised in Turkana, the county with the highest illiteracy in Kenya and located in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL), were lucky enough to receive education. Key findings from surveys conducted in the County found that 82% of Turkana community have never attended any formal education. Literacy rates stand at 20% compared to a national rate of 85%. Most parents across the county still do not appreciate the necessity of education and are therefore in no rush of sending their children to school. Most girls are married at a very young age to older men while boys take up roles of looking after the family livestock.
Driven by passion to make positive impact in their community, the three, Lydia Aipa, Hellen Ateyo and Rebecca Eyanae, saw the need of reaching out to young people in their community. During their stay at the University, they acquired the value of service to society by being actively involved in community outreach programmes organised through the Community Service Centre department. So, together with Strathmore staff, they set out to share their experiences and stories to inspire and motivate others through a similar programme of community service in their home County.
Strathmore in Turkana
Started in May 2019, the Strathmore Turkana Educational Programme (STEP) is a mentorship initiative carried out by a group of young men and women volunteers living and working in Turkana. The first STEP mentorship sessions, with focus on study skills, virtues and managing education challenges in Turkana, took place at Our Lady Queen of Peace Girls’ Primary and Talent High School.
In its believe that education is a powerful factor in reducing inequalities, STEP has several projects under its wings: a mentoring programme, teacher enhancement programmes, community engagements and refurbishment of an existing library.
To begin with, the leadership programme mentors through role modelling, with the aim of developing young leaders who will champion the education and empowerment of school age boys and girls in the county. 94 mentors are currently enrolled in the programme which hinges on role-modelling by nurturing volunteers to become beacons of hope in the community.
Teachers Enhancement Program
In May 2019, Strathmore University in partnership with the Diocese of Lodwar, began training teachers in order to build capacity of 10 schools, through the Teachers Enhancement Program. This program engages teachers and education leaders in training sessions that will lead them in reflecting on their practice, and pave way forward in making their teaching and school management skills meaningful to learners of diverse needs. STEP is keen on involving more schools in the programme.
The advancement of the children in Turkana heavily relies on engaging parents and community leaders to help them know the importance of education and to help embrace it as a key tool for changing their own narrative. STEP engages these key stakeholders so as to gain their support crucial in the implementation of programs affecting households in the community.
Community Resource Centre and Mobile Digital Libraries
To improve admission, completion and transition rates of school boys and girls, Strathmore is working at refurbishing the Anna Nanjala Library in Lodwar to upgrade it to community resource centre with a digital and mobile library. The University is now sourcing for to create a safe space for children to study and for the training of youth volunteers.
The newly refurbished centre will run the following activities:
- Peer support network program
- Support digital library
- Leadership and mentoring programs
- Ensure access to adequate learning resources (digital books, computer lab with internet and other related resources)
- Sports and extra-curricular activities
- Educational/motivational movies
- Training camps in leadership, virtue and values
- Scholarship applications for secondary and college applications
- Ready to work skills training, CV writing and job application for volunteers
In the long run, they hope to set up mobile digital libraries, to cater to the largely nomadic population in the County with a few schools in remote locations at their disposal. This will make learning resources available to many of the school going children in the six sub-counties.