Kenya

UNICEF hands over first consignment of supplies to support free education in Kenya

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(Nairobi - 31 January) UNICEF today handed over the first consignment of school supplies to the government of Kenya - just two weeks after it pledged the US 2.5. million dollar contribution to support the country's initiative to provide free primary education.
UNICEF Representative Dr. Nicholas Alipui presented education and recreation kits to Minister of Education, Hon. George Saitoti at a ceremony at the Kihumbuini primary school in Kangemi, a low-income district in the capital city, Nairobi.

A large crowd of children, teachers and officials of the Education Ministry witnessed the hand-over of learning, teaching and recreational materials which included exercise books, pens, pencils, rulers, sharpeners, slates, chalk, chalkboards, footballs, volleyballs and skipping ropes.

In his remarks, Dr Alipui lauded government's efforts to fulfill the provisions of the Children Act but challenged Kenyans to remember marginalised children in the implementation process. He urged them to pay particular attention to children with special needs. "Strategies must be developed and resources sought to improve specialist schools and build the capacities of teachers to identify and teach those children who require special attention".

He also noted the special requirements of children orphaned by AIDS. "Kenya's free primary education policy is a measure that should now respond, even if only partly, to the education, care, socialization and emotional needs of these children. Our success will be incomplete until our primary education policy meets the needs of these children".

Education Minister, Hon. George Saitoti receiving the supplies, described UNICEF as one of Kenya's foremost development partners. He praised the organisation for acting swiftly to not only announce its support for the government initiative, but also to take action. He said government had a very firm conviction that the children of Kenya should be afforded the opportunity to go to school and reiterated that education is the right of every child. "We are saying 'Yes' for children." he declared, adding "We will not be content until every child of primary school age is enrolled... By educating the children we are investing in the future of this country. In the long term, educating children is one way to eradicate poverty".

Today's consignment for schools in Nairobi will be followed by the distribution of supplies to eight other districts: Kwale, Garissa, Wajir, Turkana, Moyale, Marsabit, Moyale and West Pokot. By March some 450,000 children in grades 1 to 3 will have benefitted.

In addition to supplies, UNICEF is supporting the training of five thousand teachers to create child-friendly classrooms and assisting in the repair and rehabilitation of primary school classrooms and their water and sanitation facilities.

Meanwhile, UNICEF has launched a donor appeal to raise another US 4.5 million dollars to increase support to the Kenyan government in its commitment to achieve universal primary education.

For further information, please contact:

Denise Shepherd-Johnson, UNICEF Kenya Country Office (254) 2- 622977
Allison Hickling, UNICEF New York, (212) 326-7224, ahickling@unicef.org