The Mara Girls’ Programme is critical in helping us to enhance girls’ education. Besides re-integrating young mothers into school, we hope to reduce cases of early pregnancies in the long term.
~ Esther Naini, Programme Officer, Education
Nasieku (not her real name), a teenager from Aitong’ got pregnant in class seven and delivered in early 2023. Her parents were unwilling to take her back to school until after much persuasion from her guidance and counselling teacher and other people. She received psychosocial support and was able to settle back into school. She has since sat the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education and has been admitted to a secondary school. Sadly, Nasieku is one of the many teenage mothers in Narok West Constituency who had to suspend their studies to give birth, but often, many of them fall through the cracks, marking the end of their schooling. To address these challenges, we are coordinating stakeholders, including the Ministry of Education, the Teachers Service Commission, and the Ministry of Interior (Child Protection Officers, Chiefs and the Children Advisory Council) and creating platforms to discuss and address the challenge of early pregnancies. We are also facilitating training for chiefs and teachers (responsible for guidance and counselling) to make school re-entry a reality for teenage mothers. We are carrying out these initiatives under the Mara Girls’ Programme supported by Basecamp Explorer Foundation Kenya, which works with 25 schools in the Maasai Mara. In 2023 alone, 53 girls rejoined school under the programme. The programme also ensures schools provide a conducive environment for young mothers rejoining school. In the same vein, we are facilitating mentorship to address stigma to make schools friendly for girls who are rejoining and awareness of teenage pregnancies and harmful cultural practices.