A scheme that provides bicycles to children who would otherwise face long journeys to school is enabling kids to spend more time learning
Robert Kibet in Kakamega
Friday 24 June 2016 09.00 BST
Under the bicycle scheme, local committees select the most needy pupils, who must all live at least 6km from the school.
“When I received a bike I was so happy. Now I have time to study, travel comfortably to school, and still help with the chores. I also ride my little brother to and from school,” says Jacqueline, whose grades have improved from an average C+ to B+ since she got her wheels.
According to a UN report last year (pdf), 63 million adolescents of lower secondary school age are out of school.
“Out-of-school rates for children of primary and lower secondary school age fell between 2000 and 2007, but this progress has stalled since 2007, with the primary and lower secondary out-of-school rates stuck at around 9 and 17% respectively,” says the report.
In rural Kenya, children face obstacles to education including poor infrastructure, poverty and gender inequality.
Judith Okungu of World Vision, a partner organisation in the project, says 917 bicycles have so far been donated across Kakamega county.
“In a household where there is a boy and a girl, the boy will wake and get ready for school while the girl will attend to house chores and then get ready for school. That’s why girls take a bigger percentage of the bicycles – 75% are given to girls,” Okungu says.
Underage sex is common in western Kenya, she says, partly because of poverty. “You’ll find that many girls opt to engage in sex to pay for meeting their basic needs because their parents are poor,” she says.
According to a report by the UN committee on the rights of the child, a large number of children in Kenya are living in child-headed households; Kakamega county is ranked second, with more than 21,600.