100% of our girls have avoided mutilation, early marriage and early childbirth as a result of our program and signed agreements with parents.
At Kakenya Center for Excellence (KCE) , we believe we need to do more than just get girls into school. Our vision is to provide them with an education that prepares them to be leaders in our community, nation and world.
In 2009, KCE officially opened its doors to become Enoosaen’s first primary school for girls, where students are challenged to become what they dream to be in life. The school serves the area’s most vulnerable and underprivileged girls and focuses on academic excellence, health education, female empowerment, leadership and community development.
The central mission of KCE Boarding School is to create a capacity for leadership within each and every one of our girls. We support and challenge our girls, while providing them with an environment that allows them to discover their passions and realize their true potential.
Our girls mostly come from the Keyian Division of the Transmara District, though a few come from other surrounding divisions of the District. About 95 percent of people residing in Keyian are Maasai, thus most of our girls are from Maasai households.
The selection process for our students takes one month. The girls come to be interviewed by the School Management Committee with one of their parents and, following the interview, they complete math and English placement exams. The interview helps us determine a girl’s needs, her parents’ attitude toward her education, and her family’s history. Orphans are automatically accepted into the KCE family. The Center enrolled its first class of 32 fourth grade students in May 2009. These students were selected from a group of 100 girls who came to apply for a spot.
At the beginning of each academic year, 35-40 students join the school in our 4th grade. In January 2015 the school year began with an enrollment of 183 girls in grades 4-8.
Our second class of graduates left us in December 2014. We now have 55 girls in our Network for Excellence program attending high schools around the country. This program allows us to provide our alumnae with mentoring, career guidance, tutoring, and financial assistance. The Network of Excellence will keep our connection to KCE graduates strong and will allow the girls to maintain communication with each other as they move through high school
As our student body grows, so does the number of teaching staff. We currently have 12 dedicated teachers, two cooks, a school administrator, two security guards and a matron. Our teachers have graduated from teachers’ college in Kenya, and will benefit from continuous staff development programs offered by KCE and partnering institutions.
In 2012, we began a partnership with the Ministry of Education to host in-service trainings for teachers from the Transmara region. Our goal is to support teachers all around the district to provide quality instruction to students, using creative and innovative teaching strategies. In 2012 we trained 120 teachers from 40 schools across the Keyian Division.
The KCE Boarding School class sizes are much smaller than those at neighboring schools. The small classes enable our trained and dedicated teachers to have enough time to get to understand each student’s needs. This is different from other schools in the area where students are not encouraged to seek help from their teachers or where girls have to compete for teachers’ attention. Rather than sitting on long benches like most schools in Kenya, our students sit around tables in small groups in order to stimulate active learning. Impressively, KCE teachers are satisfying government curriculum requirements within a much shorter time-frame than similar schools. Based on other successful girls’ education models, we encourage our students to learn collaboratively, participate in their learning and strive for mastery. The girls of KCE are very eager learners!
We have challenged ourselves to develop the best educational system for young African girls:
Each grade in the school has its own classroom. The students are instructed in eight standard subjects – English, Swahili, math, science, geography/history, religion, the arts, and physical education. A health course will soon focus on educating the girls on female genital cutting, menstrual cycles, and sexual and reproductive health. The aim of this portion of the curriculum is to improve the girls’ awareness of HIV/AIDS and their roles and negotiating power in future sexual relationships.
Currently in the development stage is a unique feature of the academy: a leadership training program. Besides instruction in effective strategies for leadership, girls will get firsthand experience through student councils, student-run extracurricular activities, and community outreach. Living in this environment of personal involvement promotes self-confidence, something many girls may experience for the first time. The resulting empowerment will encourage the girls to speak up for their convictions and to assist in development of programs in their school and their communities.
Preservation of Culture:
In addition to academic and leadership instruction, the school also promotes the preservation of non-destructive cultural and domestic values. Girls are taught the life skills of their villages so that their connection to their homes is maintained and strengthened, contributing to family traditions and productivity. Through education, they learn about the latest ways to improve their farms, the health of their cows, and their homes. These opportunities provide immediate benefits to their families and to the community as a whole. The girls also learn bead working, another non-destructive Maasai tradition. The bracelets and necklaces they create are beautiful representations of the positive aspects of their cultural heritage.
Every student at KCE is provided with two complete uniforms, leather shoes and athletic gear. Our academic uniforms give our girls a sense of community within the school and create an atmosphere of belonging. In addition, our uniforms provide the girls with the privilege and responsibility of representing the school, the student body and their teams throughout the wider community. Our athletic uniforms serve an important role in enhancing the girls’ educational experience by providing comfortable gear that allows the students to stimulate their bodies through sports and daily physical education.
We are committed to providing healthy, well-balanced meals for our students, including meat, fresh fruits and vegetables. Good nutrition allows the girls to thrive both physically and academically. This includes meals during holiday and summer camp periods, when girls would otherwise not be adequately fed in their homes. We have seen significant changes in the girls’ health since we started providing them with healthy meals at the school.
Facilitated by a donation from Hewlett-Packard, our campus is now equipped with a computer lab. Our students and staff are taking part in IT classes, learning typing and computer skills. We plan to open a computer lab for the community, as well, allowing many people their first opportunity to access the Internet and use online resources. Our goal is to prepare the girls for their computer science courses in high school. Usually, this course is offered to boys and not girls because of the cultural assumption that girls do not perform well in science courses. We are excited about the changes technology is bringing to our students and their families as the girls at Kakenya Center start to change long term held assumptions in the community.