Kenya is among 17 countries set to benefit from a global initiative that aims to give all children of school-going age access to basic education.
The Sh22.95 billion ($270 million) Educate A Child initiative aims to reach the world’s 61 million children who cannot attend school because of extreme poverty, conflict, natural disasters and cultural barriers.
In Kenya, the scheme will invest more than Sh382.5 million ($4.5 million) in education projects targeting girls from nomadic communities in Kajiado, Garissa and Tana River counties.
Schools in the Kakuma refugee camp will also be assisted.
The initiative was unveiled on Wednesday by the Unesco Special Envoy on Basic and Higher Education Sheikha Moza bint Nasser at the ongoing World Innovation Summit for Education (Wise) in Doha.
“Right across the world, because of disaster, because of poverty, children are being denied a chance to change their destinies. We can change this, and because we can, we must,” said Sheikha Moza.
The 2012 Education for All Global Monitoring Report says that despite Kenya rolling out universal education in the last decade, there are about one million out-of-school children.
This has been blamed on cultural practices such as female genital mutilation and early marriage, on nomadic lifestyles and child labour and on high dropout rates as parents cannot afford school uniform and other nominal fees under the Free Primary Education.
Girl Child Network will implement some programmes such as engaging host communities to deter parents from marrying off girls at a young age. They will also help mainstream disabled children into normal schools and providing sanitary towels to girls from disadvantaged backgrounds.
“We aim to bring back to school girls that have dropped out due to early marriages, pregnancy and extreme poverty,” said Ms Mercy Musomi, the executive director of Girl Child Network.
Educate A Child targets putting about 500,000 learners in Africa, Middle East and Asia back to primary school annually through projects such as low cost one-room schools in India, floating boat schools in flood-prone areas of Bangladesh and education infrastructure in refugee camps in Kenya and Gaza.
Other African countries in the education initiative are Uganda, Burundi, South Sudan, Sudan, Ethiopia Chad, Ivory Coast.