Keywords: Kenya, inclusive school, low income country, training teachers and caregivers, peer-learning app

Promoting Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE)

Action Foundation, a local Kenyan NGO, has developed a holistic child-centered approach to inclusive early childhood education that involves early identification, creating enabling learning environments and strengthening the ability of teachers and caregivers. Initiated in 2015, it has reached more than 15.000 children in 21 schools in poorer Nairobi neighborhoods. Action Foundation plans to expand the project, which is 100% grant-funded, to other counties in Kenya.

About the practice at a glance
Name of OrganisationThe Action Foundation
Type of organisationNGO
Country
of Implementation
Kenya
Year started2015
Funding modelMainly donor-funded, added by product sales, and in-kind support of the community

IMPACT

Our inclusive education capacity building interventions have reached 240 teacher, 800 caregivers and 21 school heads. Our volunteer learning support assistants as have put in over 12000 hours of training in 21 partner schools reaching over 1600 Children with and without disabilities. Our Somesha Android App and toolkit provides a platform for peer learning and sharing on Inclusive Education.  

Children with disability and their care givers were asked for their views concerning what they consider priority needs and they cited the need for better interventions around access to quality education for their children. We gathered vital baseline information on; social, economic and educational needs of CWDs; and held a discussion of available services in the community to support CWD. 

THEORY OF CHANGE

We asked projects to outline their impact model (also called Theory of Change) – their main target groups, the key activities they offer these target groups, and what impact they want to achieve:

Target GroupActivityImpact
Children with disabilitiesCapacity building and advocacy for support services including occupational therapy, assistive devices, referrals for medical care, safeguarding and nutritional
support.

195 Children reached through direct health and nutrition
services, 350 reached with inclusive education support and 2036 nutritious meals provided to CWDs
Girls and women with disabilitiesEmpowerment through training on digital technology skills, sexual & reproductive health and life skills95 Girls with disabilities mentored and trained in life skills
Care givers of children with disabilitiesEconomic Empowerment through financial education/literacy, micro enterprise development and linkages to formal financial institutions105 care givers reached through financial literacy skills training and linked to micro-financing institutions

REPLICATION EXPERIENCE

We have not replicated our innovation yet, but we have a clear idea about what to replicate, where and with which partner. The project was initiated in Kibera informal settlements and has so far been replicated to Kawangware and Mukuru informal settlements in Nairobi. We intend to replicate it further to Kilifi and Makueni Counties. The project is replicable since we have branded it under the Somesha Project and developed a user friendly toolkit manual and an android application that can be accessed by our beneficiaries. We also use a TOT approach that allows the intervention to be cascaded to more beneficiaries.

Anchored on lessons learnt and best practices from our current project in low cost schools, we would like to replicate the ECD inclusive education teachers toolkit, the peer education dialogue groups approach, an android application dubbed Somesha, volunteer teacher assistant initiative and the child friendly school concept. These models and approaches have realized a great deal of success and can be replicated in urban low income areas of Nairobi County in partnerships with the County Education Department Education Assessment and Resource Centres and local community schools.

We intend to upscale to other counties in partnership with the government, organizations and institutions working in the Early Childhood Development (ECD) sector.

We focus on strengthening existing systems and structures based on tried and tested models rather than reinventing the wheel. This way, the work and strategy of TAF, its partners and its stakeholders is complemented and strengthened. We have upscaled our programs over the years using the replication strategy for instance; peer education approaches as well as the teacher assistant volunteers initiative which have been tested and reviewed over time.

ORGANISATIONAL CAPACITY AND STRATEGY

There is a project owner: Maria Omare, Executive Director: Maria is a disability rights advocate, nutritionist and team leader at The Action Foundation; passionate about social change. With over 7 years experience of Non Profit Organization Management, she has received national and global recognition for her work at The Action Foundation. She has widely featured in local and international media such as Huffington Post, Institute of War and Peace Reporting, Up Magazine, Parents Magazine and the local dailies (Nation, Standard and The Star). These along with TV appearances such as in NTV and Family TV have not only raised the profile of The Action Foundation but also ignited conversations about inclusion and respect for the dignity and rights for persons with disabilities.  

The board and senior management team are in full support of up scaling through replication as evidenced through their approval of our new strategic plan that has laid a lot of emphasis on replication as the most cost effective strategy. As we finalize on the strategic plan, we shall make deliberate efforts to allocate and direct substantial human and financial resources to replicating our best practices. 

MOTIVATION

There is need for cost effective and innovative models that will help address these issues. TAF would like to learn from others in orders to upscale and replicate its inclusive education project that have demonstrated great success in two informal settlements namely Kibera and Kawangware. This is what has motivated us to apply for the program.

Through this program, we would like to learn how to best realize increased school enrolment, retention and transition of early years children with disabilities. Secondly, there is very little involvement of parents and teachers in care giving and protection issues for their children. They see these children as a burden and this leaves most of the children neglected and unable to develop basic daily living skills. We would like to learn from others how to address this challenge. Lastly, we would like to learn how to best replicate community schools child friendly as most of them have few resources and poor infrastructure. Using the child friendly schools concept, we would like to address this issue.