Our mission since inception has been to support life transformation through education and ultimately employment. In 2021, we have come to believe we must increase our focus and effectiveness on the employment dimension of our mission.
Much of the employment in Kenya is called “casual”. Since there aren’t enough job opportunities in the formal Kenyan economy, people must create their own employment to survive. Most families of students in our program support themselves with casual labor. At the low end, this means cooking food to sell in the slums or running a small kiosk or doing day construction labor. If you are educated, casual labor may be contract or temporary work.
In May 2021, Friends of Ngong Road conducted a survey of alumni that we call The First 100. We surveyed 112 alumni of the program and received 95 responses. We learned that:
- 80% of alumni have had one or more jobs in the past twelve months.
- At the time of the survey, only 46% of alumni were employed. Among that group, more than 80% had a job in the formal economy.
- Among the unemployed, more than 70% had been working in the casual economy and when COVID hit, their work disappeared.
- 59% of alumni are supporting at least one other person – a child, a parent, a sibling.
Our conclusions are that we must provide more support to help students gain employment in the formal Kenyan economy. Kenya’s employment picture is certainly not at its best due to COVID-19. Nonetheless, our board of directors concluded we must do better. We are working to accelerate our efforts to support long-term employment by:
- Deepening our understanding of areas where job opportunities exist in Kenya and then ensuring our students are preparing themselves in areas where there are employment opportunities.
- Preparing students for employment during high school by teaching them about what kinds of jobs exist and the skills needed to get those jobs, teaching self-awareness so they become more astute about where they are likely to succeed and teaching interviewing/communication skills. We call these programs Life Skills and now deliver curriculum to all four years of high school.
- Redoubling our efforts to partner with employers, local board members and other Kenyan supporters to connect students to that important first job.
A student with an education is much more likely to succeed than one who is not educated, but lives will only be transformed through employment. We will be working hard on this and sharing our findings. We support transformation through education AND employment!