Community participation and after-school support improve learning outcomes and transition to secondary school among disadvantaged girls: a pilot study in informal settlements, Nairobi, Kenya
Research shows that providing girls with after-school support and mentoring in addition to such incentives as stipends helps them to stay in school and transition into secondary school. This study tested several strategies to support girls’ education and aimed to improve their learning outcomes and rate of transition to secondary education. It demonstrated an intervention that, with parental and community support, can remediate inequality of access to secondary education. The intervention was designed to answer two questions: Does after-school tutoring improve learning outcomes; and does parents and community leaders’ increased awareness of the challenges girls face increase their support for improved learning outcomes?
Key findings from the study include the following:
- about 99% of survey respondents believed that the extra tuition improves the girls’ performance
- overall, the absenteeism rate was 11% where the two main reasons stated for absenteeism were sickness (65%) and lack of school fees (13%)
- among all study groups, 90% of the girls reported having homework, at least 66% every day. Some 90% usually or always completed it, but only one in three received help from household members to complete it
- in the 12 months immediately preceding the study, 90% of the parents or guardians had visited the school where their girl was enrolled to discuss her performance with either the teacher or head teacher
In conclusion, the life skills component was a key part of the intervention. It will be strengthened to provide girls with knowledge that can protect them from sexual predators and sexually transmitted diseases (STIs). From the qualitative component, one of the outstanding findings was the theme of a community united to educate girls. Schools alone cannot do it without the support of the other stakeholders, key among them community members. Moreover, the perception among people in Korogocho that they are poor contributed significantly to their ambivalence about their daughters’ education. Their internalization of this belief prevented them from engaging in activities, economic or otherwise, that would change their own circumstances and those of their daughters. Parental counseling sessions should work on the negative effects of the slum environment, so its inhabitants can develop a positive view of themselves and their daughters’ chances of achievement through education.
[adapted from author]