CENTERS FOR EXCELLENCE
Our all-girls boarding schools provide life-changing education to vulnerable girls in rural Kenya. In addition to providing a world-class education, we know raising an empowered child requires a multifaceted approach. Our holistic and girl-centered approach ensures each and every girl’s full and unique needs are met so that she can achieve her full potential.
Click the bubbles below to learn more about each program, or scroll down for an overview of our life-changing work.
COMMUNITY & PARENT ENGAGEMENT
The transformative impact of Kakenya Center for Excellence is in no way limited to the girls alone. The parents and community at large, though initially unsure of the importance of educating a girl, today almost universally embrace the value of KCE. Our Center believes in the full involvement of parents in running the school. Each classroom has a parent representative who checks on the students’ academic progress. Parents also take an active role in our school management committee. We also involve the fathers in the lives of our girls, who in traditional Maasai communities do not have relationships with their daughters. We invite the fathers each month to visit with their student and the student’s teacher. Not only do the fathers begin taking an active role in supporting their child’s education, the foundation for a positive, life-long relationship is also built where one had never before existed.
At KCE, we believe education is the key to unlocking each girl’s unique potential. For this reason, we ensure our academics are held to an international standard. The school offers a variety of subjects needed for a girl to succeed in high school and beyond, including English, Swahili, Mathematics, and Science. We work hard to ensure every girl receives the best education possible. Our girls regularly score in the top 2% nationally and in 2015 our average national exam score was more than double the national average.
OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM
Many studies show that to be healthy, happy, and successful, children need time to grow outside the classroom. While many girls in rural Kenya spend evenings and weekends doing chores and taking care of younger siblings, our girls participate in a variety of activities outside the classroom that allow them to play, learn and grow as leaders. Some of the activities include debate, Model United Nations, theater, choir, and dance.
Whether our girls are heading to a nearby business, or venturing to a national wildlife preserve, our field trips open our students to new perspectives, expanding their awareness of the larger community, and letting them connect the dots between the classroom and real life experiences.
Every year our 8th graders participate in a five day trip to Nairobi to visit the cultural and historic sites of the Kenyan capital. This trip often includes visits to the National Archives, Parliament, National Museums of Kenya, and Nairobi National Park. The trip is always one of discovery and excitement for each and every student. As our 8th graders prepare to leave KCE for secondary school, trips such as this challenge them to interact with people from different backgrounds and engage in new surroundings.
Like their counterparts around the world, our girls love to run, jump, play, and compete! The daily athletic program at Kakenya Center creates a space for the girls to use their energy in a healthy way, learn new skills, enjoy competition, become strong and feel good about their bodies and physical abilities. Activities include long-distance running, soccer, volleyball and other games. We have competitive school teams in soccer, net-ball, volleyball, and running, and the school always has a strong showing in the primary school games that are held every March and July.
While we are committed to ending harmful cultural practices, such as FGM/C and child marriage, our girls are also empowered to carry on positive traditions. Our demonstration farm is an ongoing opportunity for our girls to learn a mix of traditional and modern agricultural practices. Similarly, our girls welcome mentors from the community for storytelling and to teach them traditional beading and quilting.
A healthy girl is a happy girl—and a better student. At KCE, we are committed to guaranteeing each of our girls receives quality health care. Our staff at the school supports the girls to improve their hygiene, exercise, and nutrition. When a girl requires medical attention, we ensure she is given the absolute best care available, regardless of her family’s financial ability.
Empowerment lies at the heart of the KCE mission. In order to overcome the significant challenges facing girls, especially socialized norms that seek to oppress women, we work hard to ensure our girls know they are capable, supported, and strong. From public speaking to self-defense, we teach girls a variety of skills to help them become independent and confident young women.
Our boarding school provides a safe and secure environment for our girls to learn, grow and thrive. Outside of the school, girls are faced with many situations that put their health and safety at risk, including rape, abuse, and intense physical labor.
Enoosaen is a Maasai village of about 10,000 people located in the Transmara District of southwestern Kenya, about 250 miles west of Nairobi. It is a fairly remote area; after leaving the paved road in the town of Kilgoris, one must travel 20 miles of rough dirt road to get to the town center. The village is spread out amongst the rolling hills, where villagers live on small family farms. While cattle herding is still the focus of this Maasai community, unlike other Maasai villages throughout Kenya, this community also practices subsistence farming. Because of overpopulation and the introduction of farming into this community, once-forested land is now heavily farmed, producing primarily maize, beans and sugar cane. The area is blessed with ample spring-fed water and a rotary project now brings that water directly to the town center. While electricity exists in the town center, it is rather inconsistent and undependable.
The KCE campus is a dynamic and robust learning environment . Built on acreage donated by community elders, the first two-story structure went up in 2009 and became the anchor classroom building for the new school. In 2011, a dormitory was built and electricity was installed, creating a safe place for the girls to live. The dormitory provides the girls with a modern and comfortable environment. In 2015 our campus will grow tremendously. The plans include: an additional dormitory for girls, new housing accommodations for teachers, a library, additional classrooms, quiet office space for teachers and a dining hall.
When Kakenya first spoke with village elders about building a school just for girls, she was met with a lack of understanding and strong resistance as to the value of such an endeavor. But Kakenya persisted, and today, not only is a school up and running, but the number of girls applying to KCE has more than tripled. Girls come from all parts of the region – many of them brought by their fathers or grandfathers. As one Maasai father said, “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.”
Guided by quality teachers and benefiting from class sizes that are one third the size of those found in other local schools, the girls are discovering their abilities to soar academically. They strive for mastery, and climbing test scores are a testament to current success. Being a public school, they follow the government curriculum, but unlike most local schools, teachers encourage active learning and student engagement. Arts, technology, athletics, and extra-curriculars round-out the crosscutting program. While academics are the cornerstone of KCE’s work, imperative to the mission are innovative and ground-breaking programs for the girls in leadership building, health and preservation of cultures.
When the campus is finished, there will be eight buildings in all: two classroom buildings, dormitory housing for 200 students, a library, an administration building, a teachers’ house, a guesthouse, and a kitchen with a dining hall that serves as a multi-purpose room. The grounds will be abundantly planted with fruit and indigenous trees. There will be both play and learning areas, performance spaces and sports fields. The school garden, which is already tilled and planted, will be growing maize, beans and a variety of healthy vegetables for the cook to use in school meals. The school was put on the electrical grid in 2011, but local power is inconsistent and not dependable. The solar electrification systemwas installed in May 2013.
Soon, we will be launching our second Center for Excellence campus!