CFK Initiative Focuses on School Attendance

Jeffrey Okoro, Education Program Director

In the last 15 years, the number of Kiberan children who have ever attended school has risen from about 15% to about 90%.

July 20, 2018

In the last 15 years, the number of Kiberan children who have ever attended school has risen from about 15 percent to about 90 percent. This is a remarkable achievement, due primarily to the emergence of low-cost private schools, now numbering 300. 

Even so, few Kiberan children stay in school long enough to learn the skills they need to pass the primary school completion test known as the KCPE (Kenya Certificate of Primary Education). Accurate statistics are nearly impossible to obtain, but we estimate that only 25 to 50 percent of children pass. And those rates don’t include the very many children do not attempt the KCPE. That means 4,000 or more kids each year do not even qualify to begin secondary school. With our foundational belief in education as critical to long-term social change, we cannot let this situation continue. 

CFK’s Best Schools Initiative (BSI) has been formed to put an end to this tragedy. Over the last two years, we have conducted extensive research in Kibera to learn what affects student attendance and success. We have interviewed over 1,000 parents, 30 school Head Teachers and Directors, and 20 local education NGOs through surveys at over 40 schools.

We identified a number of factors greatly affecting student success including continuous student attendance, teacher training and retention, effective student to teacher ratios, access to textbooks, reliable feeding programs, parent or guardian involvement, extracurricular activities, classroom facilities encouraging learning and student worth, and school fees that are stable and affordable.

Looking forward, the role of our BSI will be to:

1) Learn through reliable data what practices have the greatest impact on student attendance and success;

2) Encourage and enable schools to adopt best practices for increasing student attendance;

3) Identify partner and government agencies with expertise and match them with schools serious about using these practices;

4) Encourage partners and donors who distribute scholarships to focus their giving on the most effective schools; and

5) Continuously monitor and evaluate practices and schools to ensure that schools are maximizing student attendance and success.

The children of Kibera – just like kids all throughout the world – have the right to receive a quality education. Our Best Schools Initiative believes the process of partnering together to discover and implement the most effective, efficient, and cost effective practices for a community to educate its children can lead, in a few years, to children in Kibera getting the opportunities they deserve.

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