*By Joyce Ngumba.
Imagine having dropped out of school before attaining either your primary or secondary school certification. During that period of a lapse in the education continuity, as a girl or a young woman, you get married and have children.What would you do to adequately provide for your children?
Susan Achieng is one such woman who was born and brought up in Mathare. Her parents had a source of income: her father worked at a shop owned and run by a businessman, and her mother had a tailoring business.
As fate would have it, Susan’s father lost his job when the businessman decided to go back to his country and her mother’s tailoring shop was razed to the ground.
“All of a sudden, my parents could not pay the required examination fee that would allow me to sit for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (K.C.S.E). And just like that, I dropped out of school,” says Susan.
It was seven years later that Susan got the opportunity to sit for her KCSE exam. Why did she continue after so long a period?
“I noticed I could not get a job, any decent job without that certificate; even the casual jobs which you’d think do not require one. Potential employers for jobs like house cleaning or babysitting would ask for one. I figured I’d better take the exam if I wanted a different lot in life,” adds Susan.
She registered for what is popularly known as adult education, and in under a year, she sat her K.C.S.E exam. That certificate allowed her to get a sales job with an optical company. But it was not easy.
“I went to Balozi Institute where I was tutored. I had to pay Ksh 15,000 and it was a big hustle, bearing in mind that I have a child to take care of and the casual jobs do not pay much.”
This is the same reason that locks out other people from completing their primary and secondary education, despite the Kenyan government making it potentially within reach for the masses.
Based on her experience, and having been born and brought up in Mathare - one of the informal settlements in Nairobi, Susan has taken it upon herself to ensure that willing young women from the same residential area have a chance to access to education that enables them sit and pass their primary and secondary education.
“Most of these women have children, and their husbands cannot support them adequately. It’s also tricky for them to balance their time. The wages they earn from doing odd jobs like cleaning sometimes earns them about Ksh 100 per job. The Ksh 15,000 is way out of reach for many,” says Susan.
Susan Achieng is one of the 2016 Akili Dada Fellows. Her project - Inua Kike - is to teach and prepare women from Mathare to bridge the education gap. Her being an Akili Dada fellow means that she will get training on the broad spectrum on project management with a USD 1000 grant that can help her start it off.
However, this is not enough. Not especially since the target market has no regular source of income, let alone a surplus that can let them pay for the cost of tutors and the books. So far, there are seven students ready to enroll for exams, and they will need to be supported especially on books and other related study material.
Join us in supporting Susan and other amazing young women to achieve their dreams.