Justina dreams of becoming a nurse. She received good marks on the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exam that is given at the end of 8th grade and determines if and which secondary school one may transition to. Because there are no day secondary schools near her home, her only option was to enroll in a boarding school, with a fee of $400 USD a year.
Justina would have been the first girl of her family to go to high school. But her family couldn’t pay beyond the first term and she was forced to dropout. Denied an education, her parents felt the best way to secure her future was to follow the Maasai tradition of finding her a husband in exchange for cattle and cash.
Thanks to For the Good, Justina may yet achieve her dream. She was able to return to school with her parent's blessing and the financial support of a generous donor. But her dropout story is common and reflects the challenges girls face to stay in school. Only one in 15 girls enrolled in primary school transfer onto secondary school in the southern regions of Kenya where Justina lives.
Opportunities for education for girls like Justina are unlikely to increase until the root of the problem – the idea that education is not important for a girl or worth the return on investment – changes. When families and communities are seen as partners and strengthened with new information in a respectful and culturally sensitive way, perceptions and behaviors can and do change. In Tharaka-Nithi County, where we worked for five years, thanks to a mix of solutions, nearly 96% of girls now transition to secondary school, the highest rate in Kenya. We are proud to have been a piece of that successful change and excited to apply what we've learned there to new regions of Kenya where there is tremendous need but also, tremendous promise. We exist because we want every girl to have the same chance as Justina.