Friends of Ngong Road’s board of directors decided in 2008 that we aspire to “go deep” with the students we sponsor. This principle led to the decision to continue with students through post-secondary training despite the increased expense. Our aspiration is to provide assistance to these young adults until they are prepared to get jobs in Kenya’s growing economy.
87 Students now in a post-secondary program
Our first high school graduating class was just five students in 2012, all of whom are now employed. Since then, we have had 87 more students finish high school, with the largest class being the class of 2015 with 38 students. We have learned a great deal as we have shaped this extension to our core program focused on primary and secondary education.
We developed three principles to guide the post-secondary program:
1. Formal acceptance: We require that students formally acknowledge they plan to join the post-secondary program and understand their responsibilities, including attending computer skills training, obtaining a national identification card, and developing a proposal for their own post-secondary education by June of the year following graduation.
2. Support based on academic achievement: Most students will qualify for a one-two year program that focuses on job skills training. Only those who qualify for government scholarships will be given the opportunity to attend university, although exceptions may be granted from time to time.
3. Realistic expectations: We have tight guidelines about the duration and cost of the courses and try to focus students on career paths likely to lead to jobs.
Differing rates of maturation
As is true in the U.S., young people mature at different tempos though most experience a great deal of growth and development from ages 18 through 22. We have seen this in Kenya as our students move from unrealistic aspirations to reality-based plans. Assisting them with that process requires a great deal of time, wisdom, and expertise.
New caseworker hired
In 2014, we hired Joy Obiya as our post-secondary caseworker. Joy is the person who provides this coaching and guidance. Imagine if every year you needed to help up to 40 young people decide on their career path! Joy is courageous, honest, and very effective at providing guidance while still leaving the primary responsibility to the young person.
- The class of 2012 includes four students who have finished their post-secondary education and all are employed in good jobs. The fifth student, Marline Wanjiku, is enrolled in university and working part-time.
- The class of 2013 was 12 students, two of whom elected not to pursue post-secondary education. Of the remaining 10, two have finished their post-secondary program and are doing an internship. Six have part-time work and are going to school. The remaining two are in school full-time.
- The class of 2014 was 37 students. Most have either started their post-secondary coursework or will do so in January. Two students from this class had babies in the intervening year and we are still sorting out our approach to these two students. Many of our students will complete their post-secondary coursework in 2016 or 2017 and we will support their efforts to get jobs.
It is especially exciting to begin to see the results of this program in lives transformed by work. To see more, please watch this short video: “I’m Working, It’s Working”.
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