The girl child in Africa has always been left behind and ignored by many communities, as other just see them as a source of wealth by waiting to marry them and getting dowry in exchange.
However more than 2000 girls in Kwale County in the Coastal city of Mombasa Kenya are privileged to get sponsored for their boarding secondary schools for the 4 years of good education, supervision, housing, nutrition and healthcare thanks to the Verkaart Development team
Since its start 20 years ago many girls have benefited from the Verkaart development team, as the team sponsors girl child education as many parents in the region do not see the importance of educating a girl child.
The girl child education in coast region is low as most communities see the girls as a source of income through marrying them off at a young age to get dowry.
In the region also most get fewer opportunities and due to lack of money mostly boys are allowed to go to school and girls have to stay at home to help with house work.
The Verkaart Development team currently sponsors 3 girl high schools in the region, which are Kingwede secondary school in Msabweni, Kwale girls’ high school in Kwale and Franz Josef Mamba secondary school in Lungalunga.
The team looks for sponsors in Holland for the girls to facilitate the education of the girl on her secondary school.
Speaking on an exclusive interview the chairman Verkaart development team Hans Verkaart, said he also get funds from organizing activities to generate the money. One of the activities is hiking Mount Kilimanjaro which generated 5 million shilling, cycling which generated 15 million shillings and next year planning for a triathlon.
The Verkaart team also maintains and repairs the schools and also pays bonuses called motivation fees for the BOG teachers and government teachers in the 3 schools.
Penina Munyi the principal Kingwede secondary said her school has a population of 700 students both girls and boys.
The boys in the school are being faced out as it becomes a total girl’s school and be easier for the Verkaart team to sponsor them.
The school was built in 2007 by the Dutch government through the Verkaart foundation but it is still under staffed.
The Verkaart foundation pays for the tuition fees for all the girls and also takes care of their boarding facilities.
The school currently has 7 government teachers that are including the principal and her deputy, with 22 teachers employed by the BOG with Verkaart foundation paying their allowances.
The allowance is paid for the teachers who have worked from January to December but paid on October since that’s when the chairman of Verkaart development team is around.
The school through the board and administration had for long been complaining that they don’t get assistance from the government through the ministry of education.
The DEO Msambweni Bridget Wambua assured the Verkaart group that the government is not ignoring them but there is a national shortage of teachers in the country and they school appreciates to have 7 as other schools in the district have none or one.
One issue delaying the school to get more teachers is the government policies and not that they are ignored because of the Dutch affair.
After their secondary education the girls who perform well will be arranged for sponsors to help them continue with their education by paying their college and university fees.
Those who did not succeed to perform well can join Kilulu polytechnic in Kinango which is sponsored by the Verkaart development team
Elsewhere girls who could not make it to secondary school or even dropped out of primary school have a reason to smile thanks to one Margret Gona Fondo.
Margret Fondo started WEKAMBE School of dress and garment making in Kaloleni district in Kilifi County.
The school helps girls from disadvanted families who can’t afford to take them to college after finishing secondary school. The school also helps girls who dropped out of school because of early pregnancy.
The main aim of Margret Fondo to start Wekambe School of dress and garment was to help the girls of her village Kaloleni to be self reliant in life and not depend on getting married for financial stability.
Coming from a community where the girls wait to be married and depend on their husbands to provide for them making them puppets and sex slaves, this idea bothered Margret so much.
Wekambe is a Ugandan word for working together for a common goal, and the dress and garment making college was started in 2009 with only 2 students.
“I started with only 2 students as most of the people around including the girls could not understand what I was offering” said Margret Fondo.
Three years down the line the college has grown and is currently hosting 13 girls form the community around. The entire course takes a period of two years and on completion they do a final exam from KNEC.
Since the start, the community around has known the importance of educating their girl child, “At least now I get calls from the elders encouraging me for what am doing to the girls in the community” says Margret Fondo.
Among the challenges Margret Fondo and the school is facing is getting the materials for practicals as they are not easy to find in the small village Kaloleni unless ordered from Mombasa town.
Another challenge is registering the college to KNEC as the students on completion of their course have to sit for the exam in another place.
The college is yet to receive funding from the government and also the women enterprise fund for the purchase of more tailoring machines.
Though most of the members of the community have appreciated the efforts Margret Fondo and her dress and garment school, some see her as trying to make the girls rude as they no longer aim to be married first.
The school has a vision of improving the lives of many more girls in the near future and kills the culture of girls taken as just a property to bring wealth to the family.