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Children at a school desk in Nairobi. (Source: Frank Rothe)

Basic education for slum children

Kenya: Kenya's capital Nairobi is an international tourist attraction. But in general tourists never see the slums, where hundreds of thousands of people live without electricity or running water. The dilapidated shacks are cobbled together with scrap wood, corrugated sheet metal, and plastic tarps. Sewage flows through the unpaved streets, where children run around barefoot. Many are prone to illness but don’t have access to unaffordable healthcare. Jobs are in short supply. High unemployment drives many people to drug abuse, alcoholism, and crime. Families break apart and children end up on the streets.

Few girls and boys are able to attend school. Even if they still live with their families, their parents don’t have the financial means to pay for education. What's more, every breadwinner is needed to ensure the family's income. The teaching materials in state schools often fail to address people's everyday needs and Curricula are of little relevance to their situation.

Four-year basic education

Teacher with two pupils. (Source: Christoph Gödan)
The teachers particularly respecting the situation of their pupils.

Kindernothilfe has joined forces with its partner organisation Undugu Society of Kenya to offer the Undugu Basic Education Programme (UBEP) to give children in four slum areas a four-year basic education carefully tailored to their living conditions. The curriculum for the 800 children and young people at four schools in the urban districts of Pumwani, Kibera, Mathare, and Mgomongo includes reading, writing, arithmetic, Swahili, and English. In contrast to the methods used at state schools, the curriculum is practical and closely connected to real life challenges. The schools attract girls and boys who dropped out of regular schools and are actually too old to attend primary school. Furthermore, they receive instruction in economics, agriculture, natural sciences, and domestic science. Great emphasis is also placed on musical subjects that allow pupils to learn new ways to express themselves. The programme has been a great success. The dropout rate in the project schools is 50 percent lower than in state schools.

Some graduates manage to transfer to a state school. In 2006, 76 children passed their exams and now have the opportunity to continue their education.

Special challenges

Teachers have to give special consideration to the children's living situation. It is not uncommon for a large number of children to miss classes at the beginning of the school year. When they resume their studies later during the course of the school year, they have difficulty making up for lost ground. Absenteeism is often caused by major challenges families are facing. In these situations, project staff speaks with the parents to point out the importance of regular school attendance. In some slum areas, violence also prevents children from attending school. Violent clashes between rival gangs can make it too dangerous for children to leave their homes. This means that school instruction has to be suspended for a certain amount of time.

Project No. 65001

How we promote education

How we promote education

Some 57 million children worldwide are still unable to attend school. Each of these children is in danger of being drawn into a vicious cycle of inadequate educational opportunities and abject poverty. We have made education the main focus of our work.

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Our objective: Realising children's rights

Our objective: Realising children's rights

Any interventions aimed at a long-term positive impact on children's lives must contribute to realising and safeguarding their rights. This is the focus of our work, both in Germany and abroad.

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