Saturday, February 09, 2008


In about 10 years North Eastern Province of Kenya, also known as NEP, for its arid conditions and paucity of resources, will be hopefully be enjoying the fruits of a quite revolution started by Unicef and Thew Kenya's Ministry of Education, when it gets its first set of professionals such as nurses, teachers, economists, pharmacists, doctors, journalists and other specialists, who are expected to play a crucial role in improving the lives of the people.

An Education Sponsorship Programme, Initiated by Unicef and the Ministry of Education, aimed at bridging the gap that has stymied girl-child education in the vast province for a long time is currently on the way.

Ms Amina Ibrahim, an education specialist with Unicef who is coordinating the project, says

“Our priority is to ensure that we at least get all those bright girls to schools where they can have equal opportunities to excel. This programme enables them to have a headstart that will increase their chances of getting to university. Once we have pushed them that far, they will fight on their own to attain their professions,” says Ms Amina Ibrahim, an education specialist with Unicef who is coordinating the project.

First implemented in 2006, the programme is aimed at addressing gender disparities in education in the province by implementing affirmative action for the marginalised communities and specifically targeting the girl-child.
Every year since its inception, a total of 60 bright girls who have excelled in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) are chosen from the four districts of Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, Ijara and other newly constituted districts for admission to highly regarded national schools across the country.

From this selection, the girls from North Eastern are given the rare opportunity to compete equally with other bright girls in highly reputed schools like Precious Blood Girls, State House Girls, Alliance Girls, Moi Forces and Limuru Girls.

“I am so excited and I can barely believe that this day has finally come. I know I am one of the luckiest girls from the province and I know I will have to work very hard because I have been admitted to a very competitive school,” says 14-year-old ASHA YUSSUF from Garissa District who has been admitted to State House Girls High School.

NASIN DAQANE ABDI, one of 60 beneficiaries of Unicef scholarships for girls from North Eastern Province, says

“I have very big dreams. I am so happy that I got this scholarship. I want to be a doctor so that I can help my people. Most women in North Eastern Province do not go to hospital because they are uncomfortable with male doctors. If I become a doctor, they will feel free with me,”

The 14-year-old girl is a Form One student at Mary Hill High School, situated a few kilometres from Nairobi. “I am not sure how I would have managed to proceed to secondary had I not been awarded the scholarship,” she says.

NIMA ABDI YUNIS, Another beneficiary now in her second year at the school.

“I scored 352 marks and was offered a place in this school. But I never knew I could come here. I was not even sure I would go to secondary school in the first place,” she says.

Nima, who comes from Garissa, also in North Eastern Province, says the school has enabled her to meet with people from different cultures and religion.

However, Educational Experts from Kenya, are looking for sponsors for this kind of projects

“We keep looking for sponsors so that we can replicate this project in other areas. There are many places where you find very bright girls who attain as much as over 400 marks in KCPE but can hardly afford a pair of shoes, let alone school fees for secondary school,” said Mr Siele.