The girls’ education programme in Kenya provides a great example of a community learning in response to Covid-19, and the opportunity school closures created to rethink how schools and communities could work together in particular to support marginalised groups such as girls.
Kenya closed its schools early in the pandemic, using broadcast TV and radio, together with online education to support learning continuity. However, many girls (approximately a third) lack access even to radios, and even when they do, there are still huge challenges due to economic pressure, family movement and childcare expectations. In response, our Girls Education Challenge programme focused on ways to use the community to maintain continuity through their trained network of ‘community health volunteers’ (CHVs) who delivered education materials as part of household visits, maintaining teacher engagement through WhatsApp groups facilitated by ‘learning coaches’ and establishing community ‘Reading Corners’.
The results were remarkable. In the Arid-and Semi-Arid (ASAL) areas, levels of learner engagement despite school closure have been higher than 90%, and in the urban slum areas, over 80%. This is despite the wider economic challenge presented by the Covid-19 restrictions. The community Reading Corners, using older girls as peer-mentors, have been a huge success, continuing to run even as schools in Kenya re-opened, demonstrating the power of the community as a key mechanism to mitigate critical equity issues raised by Covid-19. Such school-community partnerships offers the potential to redefine learning provision in powerful ways as systems recover.