In support of their fund raising campaign, #40foraplate and an amazing photo exhibition #the43percent (more information on both is readily available on all social media platforms), this post will highlight the vision and objective of one of Kenya's most admirable initiatives, Food4Education.
Education is central to development. In Kenya, 43% of the population is below 15 years which implies that almost half of all Kenyans are of primary school going age. Ensuring that we get primary school education right is key to Kenya’s future as it determines how many children make it to high school, how many don’t and ultimately how Kenya will look like in 10 years. An educated population makes better decisions about its leaders, economy and country.
2. How did you come up with the idea of Food 4 Education?
Food for Education was founded in response to what I had grown up seeing in Ruiru. Many kids did not have access to regular meals and as a result would skip school to either go beg or look for food. They did not perform well in school and had limited opportunities later in life. Sadly, even today, this is still the reality for many Kenyan children and I was inspired to do something to contribute to a better future. Food4Education was started to give kids in my community and ultimately in Kenya the opportunity to concentrate in class, excel and grow to contribute towards a better Kenya.
I consulted with local leaders such as pastors, chiefs and school principals on the best intervention that would ensure kids stay in school. A feeding program was identified and we designed a menu based on locally available ingredients that would be balanced, nutritious, cost-effective and delicious. We then started by feeding 25 of the most vulnerable kids from Ruiru Primary School.
3. What are the measurable outcomes of your initiative? How do you intend to achieve them?
In the words of the Chilean government, we want “to facilitate the incorporation, retention, and success in the educational system of children and young people living in social, economic, or psychological disadvantage, by delivering quality services, which contribute to equality of opportunity in the educational process”.
We hope to create a just country where disadvantaged children don’t miss school because they are hungry, lack sanitary towels or don’t believe that they can achieve much. We want a more representative future and so we are investing in the education of the most vulnerable.
4. What vision do you have for Food4Education?
Provision of a daily meal provides a safety net for kids ensuring that they stay in school and learn. So far, we have worked with over 100 children and are and are currently expanding to feed all 1300 in two schools.
In coming years, we plan on working with more public schools to ensure that no child goes hungry. Our model is simple and scalable as our interventions are clear, cost effective and have proven to be successful in our pilot program.
5. What impact would you say your program has had so far? How many students are being targeted in the next 10 years?
We started in January 2012 and in the last 3 years have worked with over 100 children in our pilot program. In this time we have seen marked improvement in our key indicators. In 2014, we had a 96% attendance ratio compared to the national average of 87% and a 95% secondary transition rate compared to the national average of 78%. In that time, 100% of our students also scored 250/500 marks in KCPE compared to 49.1% nationally. We are growing and would like to reach 1 million kids in the next 10 years.
Note: Many thanks to Wawira Njiru, Founder of Food4Education for telling this story. If you'd like to join this incredible movement, go to their website below and get involved!