Our aim is to change social attitudes about the value of investing in girls as we enable our students to become change makers in their homes and community. Since the opening of the Kakenya Center in 2009, there have been striking changes both in the community and in the students.
In 2006, when we started to encourage parents to see the need for educating their daughters, many parents would not even listen. The chief of the village publicly declared in 2006 that girls are for marriage, so there is no need to educate them. However, by 2009 these perceptions had already drastically changed. One father said recently, ”Culturally, girls aren’t supposed to inherit anything from the family. I want, while I am alive, for my daughter to inherit an education from me.” Another illustration of the positive impact made upon the community is the fact that 100 girls applied for 30 openings for the incoming class of students.
The students’ improvement has been evident both in terms of academic performance and personal growth. When the girls started school in May 2009, they took exams to determine their academic level, and subsequent exams show marked academic improvement. The 2010 class of girls also completed exams to measure their progress. In April, our girls scored the highest out of 29 schools in the Keyian division in their end of term exams. Four of the top five students overall were Kakenya Center girls. Additionally, the girls are now speaking in English, something they were not able to do when they first joined Kakenya Center. Another critical change has been in the girls’ confidence levels. The staff has seen dramatically positive changes in the students’ demeanor, their self-esteem, and their attitude toward learning. It is imperative for us to track these changes especially for our replicable model and sharing our best practices and challenges. Developing the right evaluation tools is essential for us.
Guided by quality teachers and benefiting from the school’s small class sizes, the girls are discovering their own abilities to soar academically. Recent government tests have shown that girls at Kakenya Center are achieving among the best test scores in the division. Compared with their peers in the local schools, the girls at Kakenya Center all speak English more confidently – something they could not do when they first joined Kakenya Center. Dramatic changes have been observed in the girls’ confidence levels, and it is apparent that they are happier, more playful, and more confident than when they began at Kakenya Center.