The UNICEF funds - for use over the next three months - will benefit 450,000 girls and boys from grade 1 to 3 with learning and teaching materials in eight districts and Nairobi. Specifically, UNICEF will provide education kits, recreational kits, support the training of five thousand teachers, and assist in the repair and rehabilitation of primary school classrooms and their water and sanitation facilities.
"The new government's education initiative is a milestone and we are heartened at the speed with which the government has moved to fulfill its election promise and the provisions of the Children's Act", UNICEF Representative Nicholas Alipui said today.
On the heels of the inauguration of the new Kenyan government and its announcement it would immediately abolish fees at all government schools, some 1.5 million previously out-of-school children turned up to attend classes. UNICEF said it is working with the government to swiftly assess those children most in need, as a priority.
The "basic education kits" include exercise books, pens and pencils, rulers, sharpeners, slates and chalk, and blackboards for both children and teachers. To enhance the learning environment and in recognition of children's right to play, UNICEF will also deliver "recreational kits", which include footballs, volleyballs and skipping ropes.
To complement urgently-needed supplies, UNICEF said today that it will support the government to accelerate efforts undertaken in the past year to train 5,000 teachers to create "child learning-friendly classrooms". Some 180 teachers have already been trained as trainers on how to enrich learning through environments that are interactive, participatory, gender-sensitive and encourage retention and completion.
At the centre of UNICEF's commitment to Education for All is the special focus on ensuring girls are in school and educated. Over the past two years, funds from Norway, Japan, New Zealand, the Swedish National Committee for UNICEF and British Airways have supported the African Girls' Education Initiative in Kenya. This has led to an increase in girls' primary school enrollment, retention and completion rates in areas where they have traditionally lagged behind, particularly in the North and North-Eastern provinces of the country. UNICEF said today that as part of its response to the government's initiative, it would pick up the pace on its commitment to leave no girl behind as the country attempts to move forward.
UNICEF said that crucial to this effort to get girls into schools, is the provision of clean water and sanitation facilities. The lack of separate facilities for girls and boys is a major barrier to girls' attendance.
Alipui said today that UNICEF is making a concerted effort to seek additional funds to increase support to the Kenyan government in its commitment to provide low-cost, quality basic education to the children of Kenya.