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UNESCO launches the “Keeping Girls in the picture” campaign in Kenya


Following the COVID-19 pandemic and its unprecedented disruption to education, UNESCO estimated that 11 million girls would likely not return to school. A large share of these learners at risk of not returning to school were found in sub-Saharan Africa (5.3 million). This is due to several factors including: financial constraints and pressure to take up employment; household chores, early and forced marriage and/or early and unintended pregnancy, with girls being particularly vulnerable.

It is against this backdrop, that the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa has launched a campaign in Kenya to promote girls’ education and empowerment. The project, funded by Prada, is an extension of the “Keeping Girls in the Picture” global campaign initiated by UNESCO and members of the Global Education Coalition’s Gender Flagship to support girls impacted by COVID-19 school closures to continue learning and to return safely to school.

Twenty secondary schools in the counties of Kwale and Kajiado are taking part in the local advocacy activities, implemented by UNESCO in collaboration with the Girl Child Network (GCN), a laureate of the UNESCO Prize for Girls’ and Women’s Education in 2020. The campaign focuses on achieving its objective through capacity building, the mobilization of youth networks and community radios to reach out to the wider community.

The ongoing activities include sensitization of community members, particularly the girl’s parents or guardians, on the importance of education for girls and boys; training of girls and boys on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and life skills; popularization of local girl and youth-led interventions in support of girl’s education; and adaptations of materials from the “Keeping girls in the picture campaign”, to local context. Girls would also be supported with back-to-school kits composed of sanitary towels and stationery. So far 187 learners (143F:44M) from six schools have gone through the SRHR and life skills training, and 528 (331 F: 197 M) community members have taken part in the ongoing community conversations on importance of girl’s education; barriers hindering education; the role of the community in promoting education; and the retrogressive cultural practices hindering education.

Beside girls’ return to school campaigns, the project includes initiatives aimed at reducing the gender digital divide by enhancing girls’ access to digital learning (in high-, low-, and no-tech contexts), as well as the provision of STEM mentorship opportunities, including access to female role models to equip girls with skills that enable them to navigate a changing world. In this regard, the project will support the deployment of battery/solar powered digital libraries in five selected girls’ schools, the connection of girls’ schools to the internet through the National Optic Fiber Backbone Infrastructure (NOFBI); and the connection of girls’ secondary school to the Offline Intranet Resource Centre in Garissa County, to facilitate access to Open Educational Resources (OERs) and use of ICT learning platforms in both online and offline/off-grid modes. In addition, ICT boot camp for girls on coding and robotics and other foundational 21st century digital skills will be conducted.

This project targets girls and boys aged between 12 to 18 years, and will build on existing related projects particularly UNESCO’s STEM mentorship programUNESCO Digital Libraries initiativeThe Offline Intranet Resource Centre, and Huawei/UNESCO School connectivity project.

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