Education is the foundation upon which people come to understand the world around them. Developing individuals’ aspirations for the future whilst equipping them with the necessary tools to succeed, education endows life with meaning, motivation and a sense of purpose, nurturing both the personal growth of individuals and the collective socioeconomic flourishing of the wider community. Yet for many last-mile communities in Kenya, this fundamental human right is a luxury. A key aspect of our work – interwoven across multiple programme areas – Pragya is committed to extending education to the most remote and underserved communities, no matter what the geographic and social challenges. Operating in remote regions with few educational facilities, and encompassing nomadic communities, Pragya’s educational work focuses on providing access to educational resources, and ensuring content that is relevant to local circumstances.
In the remote lands of west, central and northern Kenya, children of small and marginal farmers and pastoralist communities face multiple layers of disadvantage. With education largely failing to reach the most isolated and impoverished communities, there is little improvement from one generation to the next. Where educational facilities are available, they typically have poor learning environments, with a lack of capable teachers, inadequate teaching and learning materials, and classroom overcrowding. Additionally, teaching methods have failed to adopt new ways of engaging the young. Where children have been absent from school, enrolment or re-enrolment can be problematic, and girls are particularly likely to face discrimination in access to education. These issues contribute to a very low educational engagement rate among these communities, for instance only 32% in the northern ASALs, compared to a national average of 77%, with rates among girls especially low as a result of entrenched gender bias.
Pragya works to extend quality educational facilities to the most remote and disadvantaged communities. We establish Education Resource Centres in selected schools that serve remote settlements. Each Education Resource Centre serves multiple rural schools in an area. Pragya equips the centres with a variety of age-specific teaching and learning materials (TLM), as well as IT and audio-visual equipment to provide a basic digital literacy (helping bridge the divide with more advantaged children in urban settings). Quality educational content is also provided, which typically contains books on geography, the sciences, as well as educational DVDs addressing big themes such as the human body, planet earth, wildlife and nature and so on. The TLMs include instruments for geometry and measurement, and supporting science and math equipment, as well as atlases and globes. Keeping in mind the live situation of the children of pastoral and small and marginal farmer households, educational material on agriculture, animal husbandry and rural technologies, is also provided. Pragya includes in its Education Kit a set of dedicated gender-sensitivity material as well, addressing subjects including gender equality, human rights, healthcare for adolescent girls, and governance and laws of particular relevance to women and girls. These centres provide a vital supplement to state educational infrastructure, improving access to and quality of education for remote rural populations, boosting enrolment and retention rates amongst marginalised populations and helping secure the opportunity for pupils to transition to higher education.
We train the local school teachers for improving their pedagogy to make education more interesting, and their teaching more participative and activity-based. They are also trained for the proper use of the teaching equipment and the teaching and learning aids and quality educational content provided by Pragya to the Education Resource Centres. Whist especially challenging, we also strive to extend schooling to children of nomadic groups, encouraging the supported schools to deliver foundational education to children who have had little or no schooling, as well as bridge courses to smooth school re-enrolment for children who have dropped out.
Pragya’s work to enhance access to education for the last mile communities has been/ is being implemented in the arid- and semi-arid lands of Turkana, Samburu and Laikipia counties as well as in Kakamega country in the country’s west.