The Challenge

In 2003, the Government of Kenya declared education free for all citizens. As this bold move improved access to opportunity for children and youth, the influx of new students also highlighted the lack of resources that challenge schools in Kenya. A 2010 report by UNESCO showed that in Kenya, 1M children and youth remain out of school, and over 7.8 million youth and adults find it difficult to read and write. Schools continue to lack teachers, adequate infrastructure, textbooks, and other learning resources.

In Lewa, children in rural communities face the same challenges of poor-quality education in under-resourced schools.

Lewa invests in education so as to gain conservation leverage and influence behaviour change and attitudes. Access to education provides opportunities beyond those that only depend on finite natural resources. Education also provides the best platform for us to extend the benefits of conservation to neighbouring communities.

Our Response

The Lewa Education Programme works to provide access to quality education that improves people’s access to economic opportunities. We hope it also creates a new generation of environmental stewards.

Concretely, Lewa augments its programmes in conservation education and student scholarships with innovative school programmes that facilitate holistic learning and development

Infrastructure

Lewa supports built infrastructure for education. Our education program now supports 31 schools, including ten in community conservancies. We initiated 14 infrastructure projects across the sponsored schools, such as new classrooms, teachers’ houses, a dormitory and a library.

Libraries

Lewa builds libraries to make resources available to local schools. Libraries foster a culture of reading and learning, and with access to books, children and youth are able to cultivate their curiosities and expand their worldview. To date, Lewa has built libraries in Munanda, Kanyunga, Lewa, Subuiga, Kilimani and Ntugi.Lewa-supported libraries make resources available for both schools and communities. They are open to parents, teachers, and community members desiring to learn more.

Adult Literacy

Lewa’s Adult Literacy Programme provides literacy and livelihood skills training for community members for basic literacy and numeracy and life skills. Lewa trains community members on reading and writing, basic finance, home economics, healthcare, business skills, and management of natural resources. Lewa’s Adult Learning Centres also form savings groups that allow women to pool resources to save for household items and investments in education for their children. Opportunities in Lewa’s Adult Literacy Programme build marketable skills that increase participants’ access to income opportunities, while promoting financial literacy and conservation education. The programme is currently implemented by four instructors across nine learning facilities, serving more than 300 adult learners annually from diverse cultural backgrounds.

Digital Literacy

Lewa’s digital literacy efforts are led by a team of young individuals dedicated to extend the benefits of digital technology to local communities. Through this programme, technology is used to improve the quality of the school curriculum and increase engagement in the students’ learning. Lewa trains teachers on how to use tools and computer applications in their lectures and class activities. In partnership with the Government of Kenya, schools also receive computers, tablets, and projectors to effectively bring technology to the classroom. As of 2017, Lewa’s digital literacy program supports 15 schools in Northern Kenya.

Mobile Library

To address low reading levels in schools in Northern Kenya, Lewa organized a mobile library to reach schools that alarmingly fall behind national average reading performance. The Lewa team started the program by carrying books in backpacks to hard-to-reach areas, and then training teachers to conduct reading sessions proven to effectively improve student literacy. Sessions include narrating stories, role-playing, introducing new words, understanding characters, and writing well-crafted summaries of stories. Lewa partnered with Book Aid International to extend more reading resources to Lewa partner schools.

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