Our scholarships are designed to allow children from disadvantaged backgrounds to complete secondary school. We offer to pay their school fees in cases where a child would not be able to attend school without our support. This money is paid direct to the school chosen for them to attend, as we know with all the best will in the world, some families would use the funds for other things if we sent them the money. It would get used to buy food, or sadly in some cases on drink or drugs.
In the early years, schools were able to charge whatever fees they wished, but more recently the Kenyan Ministry of Education has set out a fee scale. This has made it much easier for us to determine the donations we need to provide a scholarship.
The Ministry of Education pays 22,244 Ksh (around £150) per student which covers their tuition fees, and a contribution to other school costs like medical provision, repairs and maintenance, electricity, admin staff costs etc. This leaves parents to cover the boarding costs and the balance of these other school costs.
The amounts that schools can charge parents is fixed by the Ministry of Education dependant on the two types of public school.
So we pay 45,000 Ksh per child for a year to schools designated as ‘national schools’, those which attract the very best students and typically have better resources. This rate also applies to secondary schools in Nairobi and the major cities.
And we pay 35,000 Ksh to all other local or ‘district schools’.
We also support a small number of children who attend secondary school as day pupils. We prefer not to do this, as our view is that being a boarding pupil is much better. Day pupils have to travel to school from home and often have to do chores before they leave so often miss school. Their conditions at home are often very poor for studying, with no electricity or space to revise. And girls who are day pupils are sometimes preyed upon by men who offer them a lift to school in return for ‘favours’.
The Ministry of Education also pays 22,244 Ksh for all day pupils again covering their tuition and some school costs. This leaves the parents (or RRBF sponsors) to pick up the cost of school lunches and the balance of the school expenses.
All students are then asked to take personal items like bedding, uniform, books, paper and other materials. And each term they are required to take ‘shopping’ which includes soap, toothpaste and toothbrush, PE shoes, a padlock for their kit box and even sewing thread.
And they are allowed to take in sugar, fruit, nuts, honey, cocoa or drinking chocolate, popcorn, or salted crisps to make their time at school more pleasurable.
We ask the family or local community to cover these personal items, as we think its important that they keep some interest and involvement in the child’s education.
There are other things that we will consider on an individual basis, but that we do not guarantee. For example, a student may need some revision books which the family has been unable or unwilling to provide. We want our students to succeed so might buy these in exceptional circumstances. Whilst we don’t set the children targets for the grades they should achieve, we do monitor the school reports of all sponsored children and will look closely at those who we have given extra books. We certainly hope to see some improvement in effort and grades in the end of term exams for these students.
All sponsored children get support with visits from our local contacts or Kenya Programme Manager to help with personal issues that might be hindering their studies. Over the last year we have helped one day pupil stay in school by finding somewhere for him to live nearby; and we are working with the family of another who seems to have fallen in with ‘the wrong crowd’ resulting in a dramatic drop in his grades. Some of these issues are because they are teenagers, some the direct result of the extremely challenging home environments that the students face.
And all our sponsored students are invited to the annual workshops we run. These aim to share our “anything is possible … if you put your mind to it’ philosophy and allow them to hear from inspirational local speakers, who share the same background as our sponsored children.