By Ouma Wanzala, via Daily Nation
Support given to primary school girls in slum areas by mentors and parents after school time can improve their performance and increase transition to secondary schools, a study has revealed.
A study conducted by the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC), in partnership with community based organizations Miss Koch and U-Tena, in Korogocho and Viwandani slums in Nairobi, reveals that pupils, community mentors and families are enriched by after-school and life-skills mentorship and academic upgrading activities.
In the study, those involved offered educational supports to selected girls enrolled in low-cost informal private schools in the two slums where APHRC has been working for the last 15 years.
“The number of girls transitioning from primary to secondary school increased for girls in both intervention groups,” states the study.
It adds that parental counseling had a measurable effect on learning outcomes, for girls’ educational aspirations and rates of transition.
“Unlike before, girls now expect to continue schooling beyond class eight and parents raised expectations for their daughters’ leadership roles and educational attainment. Mentoring improved girls’ communication skills, self-awareness, and self-esteem,” concludes the study that was concluded in January 2016.
It adds that after-school support demonstrated positive academic outcomes for girls in mathematics subject.
The study was dubbed Improving Learning Outcomes and transition to secondary school through after-school support and community participation.
The supports were compared using three groups of girls with similar backgrounds who were enrolled in classes six, seven and eight.
The three groups received different packages to compare which worked best:
Treatment group 1 (T1) pupils received after-school support with homework in English and mathematics, life-skills mentoring, their parent(s) participated in group parental counseling sessions, and families received a subsidy of Sh11, 300 to ease the financial burden on families with a girl transition to secondary school.
To qualify for the subsidy, girls were required to score 250 marks or higher in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exam (KCPE).
Treatment group 2 (T2) students received all the same support as T1, minus the parental counselling.
The third control group received no support other than a transition subsidy at the end of the study period (January 2016).
After-school homework support and life skills mentoring: Girls were provided with two hours of after-school support with homework per week: one hour each in literacy and numeracy.
The life-skills training was offered one hour per week for the first six weeks to build and solidify relationships, then reduced to one hour per month for the rest of the three year study period.
After-school support and life-skills training were provided by older girls from the same communities who had faced similar challenges and succeeded.
These mentors used mathematics and English study guides with the girls during homework sessions.
Mentors were older girls who were required to have completed secondary education with grade C or higher. They had also completed mentorship training and were paid by the partner organization.
The parents of students in both treatment groups participated in periodic one-hour group counselling sessions.
These sessions helped parents to have a better understanding on how to support their children’s schooling, such as minimizing household chores and child labour to allow time for home study; and how to provide assistance with homework.
Staff from partner organizations worked with schools, parents and community leaders to encourage parents to spare girls from household chores when they needed to be in class or at after-school learning sessions.
The study recommends that the National and county governments should establish a fund to enable girls from urban informal settlements to transition to any secondary school—public or private.
“The Teacher Service Commission and Ministry of Education, Science and Technology should enforce the teaching of the full curriculum,” it adds.
It goes on: Our research shows that life-skills education, usually taught incompletely or not at all though a part of the curriculum, enhances learning in other subjects.”
It adds that schools should be encouraged, acknowledged and rewarded for efforts to involve alumni, parents and community members in mentoring young people.