Lenana Girls High School 

Rockflower Commitment: Provide funding to create access to education for disadvantaged girls. 
Location: Kitale, Kenya

Lenana Girls High School (LGHS) is unique and meets a vital need in that it provides a high quality education at an affordable cost, even for the poorest. In Kitale area, there are several private secondary education institutions, including those with boarding facilities, but they cater to high-paying students, not the vulnerable. 

Common Ground for Africa is establishing a state of the art, girls boarding high school providing world-class Kenyan education. Driven by leadership, entrepreneurship, technology and innovation, the high school serves talented, but economically disadvantaged students with demonstrable leadership potential. The goal is to develop transformational leaders through an innovative approach to education.

By providing a nurturing and supportive environment within which girls from disadvantaged backgrounds can develop their full potential in academic and personal development and to address the imbalance in access to quality education and leadership opportunities.

LGHS for marginalized girls in Kenya has grown quickly in only two years. This vision, that was first put into action by the community and now supported by a committed network of colleagues, friends and family, is now a reality that continues to “call” both more and more girls to its doors, and more and more volunteers to help the young girls in Kenya and the rest of East Africa.

Lenana Girls High School currently benefits 43 students (ages 12- 17), who had formerly dropped out of school or were unable to continue their education due to poverty. In January 2017, the school will accept another 85 students into form one (grade 9); 60 will be day scholars and 25 will be boarding students drawn from 8 regions in the country. 

All of the Lenana students undergo an intensive screening process to ensure that they fit the criteria of: truly vulnerable students; able to perform at a basic academic level; have a supportive guardian or parent who advocates for their daughter or foster child to complete secondary school; and, most importantly, the student must exhibit a desire to pursue education. Lenana Girls High School defines “vulnerable” as being orphaned with little familial support, extremely poor, a young mother as a result of early pregnancy, unsafe at home, and/or exploited in the worst forms of child labor.

Seventy-five percent of Lenana students have lost either their father, mother, or both parents; and approximately 10% had early pregnancies, causing them to drop out of primary school.

 A key goal of Lenana Girls High School is to become self-sufficient through school-run businesses. Since 2014, the school has been practicing organic farming growing its own food and will be implementing a poultry project with the expectation that it will generate income and increase nutritional intake by students. Towards its goal of financial self-sufficiency, Lenana will be partnering with Fundacion Paraguaya, an institution that has developed self-sustaining schools in South America. The funds being sought will support Lenana school adapt their ‘self-sustaining schools’ model to reach self-sufficiency within 5-7 years. On campus businesses will not only provide income for the school but also provide valuable learning opportunities for students who will engage in business planning, management and marketing to learn practical skills, complementing the academic curriculum.

Key features of the school:

  • Targets marginalized/vulnerable girls from all regions in the country. 
  • Emphasizes provision of a high quality education through Form VI, using participatory and experiential learning methods, including information & communications technology in the classroom.
  • Aims to become financially self-sufficient through running on- and off-campus businesses, also giving students the opportunity to participate in management of businesses to learn entrepreneurship.
  • Emphasizes the use of environmentally sustainable technology such as solar energy, and use of GROW BIOINTENSIVE mini-farming method for food production.
  • Establishes a culture of community service and leadership amongst our students, where students reach out to others in their communities.
  • Prioritizes students’ needs at the core of our educational model, ensuring that none of the students under our care fall behind. Enabling them to find value in education, whatever their strengths, weaknesses and interests.
  • Partners with leading institutions from around the world to open up opportunities to tertiary education and employment for our students.
  • Leverages technology to ensure that we provide access to quality education resources to students within and beyond the walls of the high school.

As of January 2015, Lenana Girls High School has successfully reintegrated 25 girls back into the formal school system; we added 18 students in 2016 bringing the total to 43 students. More importantly, each of these young girls has developed self-confidence, a sense of direction and hope for the future, and has embarked on a pathway out of poverty. 

Lenana Girls High School is not only seeking to transform the lives of the individual girls attending its programs, but aiming for broader impact over the long-term as students return to their communities and become agents of change. Towards this end, students have already begun to reach out to poor households in their communities to provide vegetables from our GROW BIOINTENSIVE gardens, through our “Gardens for Life” program, and are engaged in community service with both a local orphanage and home for the elderly and disabled. They have also participated in community service project at various churches and local government offices.

 

ABOUT COMMON GROUND FOR AFRICA

Common Ground for Africa (CGA) is a grass-root, community-based organization that has been working since 1995 to help thousands of families in the rural communities to improve their lives through training and advocacy. CGA programs include (1) community development (this includes emergency humanitarian relief, water, sanitation and health, agriculture and women’s co-operatives, (2) SiSi Fund (this program includes Village bank and Mobile money transfer), (3) educational support and care of orphans and vulnerable children, especially girls. CGA founded and currently operates a primary school (Pathfinder Academy) with 508 students, grades K, 1-8, most of whom are orphans and vulnerable children. Each year students and faculty go out to serve in-need community groups, such as AIDS widows and slum-dwellers to teach them “GROW BIOINTENSIVE” growing methods so that they may become self-reliant in their search for food security. 

CGA’s mission is to help mitigate poverty, the single largest threat to human well-being and social stability in Kenya. Poverty breeds hunger, disease, illiteracy and environmental degradation. It also sharpens civil conflicts. To this end, CGA strives to reduce poverty while conserving the Earth's natural heritage and biodiversity, and to demonstrate in a concrete, observable way that modern human societies can live sustainably and comfortably in harmony with nature.

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