Share This Page

Overcoming Barriers to Graduating from High School

In Kenya, where three quarters of all high school students never graduate, Aid for Africa member Kenya Education Fund (KEF) helps disadvantaged students beat the odds. There are a number of reasons so many students do not finish, but most are linked to poverty. In Kenya, where all public high schools are boarding schools, the government subsidizes tuition. However this covers only about a third of the overall cost. Uniforms, supplies, and residence must still be paid for by students. In a country where the average family earns less than two dollars a day, this can be prohibitively expensive. In some cases, students who lose parents to AIDS or other illnesses leave school to care for siblings. In other cases, students cannot find the time to study or get needed academic help to maintain their grades.

KEF began in 2005 when its founder Bradley Broder, a former Peace Corps volunteer, set up a fund to help seven students attend high school. His program expanded to include destitute students from urban slums, rural villages, and nomadic communities across the country as Bradly found other sponsors for needy teenagers. In January of this year, and after two years of cooperation, Kenya Education Fund merged with Aid for Africa member Nomadic Kenyan Children’s Educational Fund and expanded its program to provide nomadic students with high school scholarships. The leadership of these two organizations saw value in pooling their resources and streamlining the administration and stewardship of both programs into one. Today KEF supports more than 500 students in 240 high schools across all eight provinces in Kenya. Funds for tuition, text books, uniforms and other necessities come from donors assigned to individual students whose progress they can track through regular correspondence. The fund maintains an equal distribution of boys and girls and nomadic and non-nomadic students.

In addition to formal education, KEF students participate in mentoring workshops where they learn study skills, gain networking opportunities, and receive HIV/AIDS prevention education. The workshops are led by inspirational Kenyan speakers and counselors who highlight the importance of Kenya’s indigenous culture. KEF also provides computers from corporate donors to schools. In exchange, the schools waive fees for severely disadvantaged students. The students in turn learn valuable computer skills that prepare them for university enrollment.

Learn more about the Kenya Education Fund by visiting their new website and find out what other Aid for Africa members are doing to make education more widely accessible in Sub Saharan Africa on our blog.