Jubilee Education Fund: An Initiative to Educate the Urban Poor

May 28, 2019

Education has often been touted as the vehicle through which families and entire communities can pull themselves out of the cycle of poverty. Often, the effects of poverty on children are wide-reaching and can lead to lifelong struggles. However, knowledge gives children the power to dream and the impetus to reach for a better future.

In 2010, Muyanga et al found that there was lower transition to secondary school by children from poorer households even though the Government of Kenya (GoK) had implemented the Free Primary Education (FPE) and Free Secondary Education (FSE) policies in 2003 and 2008 respectively, in a bid to increase access to formal education.

The Nairobi Cross-sectional Slum Surveys conducted in 2000 (NCSS 2000) and in 2012 (NCSS 2012) by African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) found increased educational attainment and school attendance in the slums of Nairobi between 2000 and 2012 among young people aged 12 to24 years old. Attainment of secondary or higher education increased from 34.4 percent to 52.0 percent among males and from 27.8 percent to 48.8 percent among females. The survey also highlighted the intra-urban differences in terms of secondary or higher educational attainment. Comparing 2008-09 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS) findings on educational attainment of youth living in the informal settlements with those living in other parts of Nairobi showed that a higher proportion of both males and females of the same age-group from other parts of Nairobi had attained secondary or higher education (males: 70.1 percent vs. 52.0 percent, respectively; females: 62.0 percent vs. 48.8 percent, respectively).

The urban poor are often disadvantaged in terms of access to public social amenities, including education. Both the NCSS 2000 and NCSS 2012 revealed that lack of school fees was the main reason for school drop-out or non-attendance, 68.6 percent in 2000 and 58.6 percent in 2012.

Having worked with these communities for over ten years, the plight of these students is something APHRC knows all too well. The Jubilee Education Fund (JEF) was established in 2012 by Nkee Ezeh to provide financial support for needy students from Githongoro, Korogocho and Viwandani slums, enabling them to access secondary education.

It is overseen by a committee that is responsible for the general oversight of the fund and the identification, evaluation, sponsorship and mentorship of the beneficiaries. Fundraising for JEF has been through individuals, organizations and private institutions as well as fundraising campaigns and proposal development.

As of 2018, the fund has enabled 16 boys and girls from these communities to attend secondary school. These students were recruited in four cohorts: Eight beneficiaries in 2013, three beneficiaries each in 2015 and 2016 and two beneficiaries in 2017. “I am thankful for the opportunity because I had no hope of joining high school. I promise to study hard and excel in my studies,” says Barlin Adam Guyo, now a student at St Paul University, Kenya. The beneficiaries were identified and recommended for sponsorship by community leaders, including the chief and head teachers and had to undergo further assessment to determine their financial needs. Each year, the beneficiaries receive sponsorship of about KES 60,000 and 30,000 (USD 6,00 and 3,00) for boarding and day schools respectively. The fund disburses the school fees to the beneficiaries’ school directly based on each school’s fee structure for the year.

The JEF committee and APHRC are cognizant of the importance of the fund and are committed to ensuring its financial sustainability because JEF contributes greatly to Kenya’s efforts towards leaving no one behind during implementation of the SDGs.