Empowering non-formal schools in slum areas
- Promoting Early Childhood Care and Education
- The Action Foundation Kenya
- Country of Implementation
- Subsaharan Africa
- Nairobi - Kibera, Kawangware and Mukuru
- Start Year
- First published
“I have developed a variety of strategies to include all learners.” Njenga, a teacher and TAF project supporter
The Action Foundation (TAF), based in Nairobi, is a youth-led NGO supporting children with physical disabilities and their families. In 2015, TAF launched a project to promote early childhood care and education for children between the ages of four and eight, targeting low-cost, non-formal schools in poor residential neighbourhoods of Nairobi. Its holistic approach includes early identification, child safeguarding, creating enabling learning environments, and strengthening the ability of teachers and caregivers to interact with children in creative ways. Since 2015, more than 1,600 children with and without disabilities have benefitted from the project.
In Kenya there exist low-cost, non-formal schools in poor residential neighbourhoods, offering basic education and training. Unfortunately, however, their standards often fall short of national quality standards due to the lack of teaching skills and infrastructure.
Solution, Innovation and Impact
When interviewed by TAF, children with disabilities and their caregivers cited the need for better interventions regarding access to quality education. TAF then used this information to initiate improvements to preschools using a child-centred model, which included teacher training in Inclusive Education, provision of volunteer special needs teachers, and low-cost learning materials. The interventions started in the three informal settlements of Kibera, Kawangware, and Mukuru, targeting low-cost, non-formal schools. Teachers were motivated to interact with children in creative ways that encourage play and learning (e.g., by adapting teaching materials), while supporting the development of cognitive and motor skills. Initially, 16 volunteer special needs teachers travelled to the local early childhood development centres to work alongside 40 teachers, who have together reached 240 mainstream teachers, 800 caregivers, and 21 heads of schools between 2015 and 2019. For children with disabilities, the practice has increased school enrolment, retention, and transition to mainstream education following their preschool years. In addition, the organization has developed an app and an online tool for peer learning and awareness about Inclusive Education.
Funding, Outlook and Transferability
The annual budget of the early intervention and education model is $86,000. The TAF funding model is primarily based on sourcing donor funds through proposal development. Additionally, the organization sells handmade articles that are produced by caregivers. Moreover, partners, corporations, schools, and the community are asked to mobilize local resources to meet various needs, such as learning materials, physiotherapy equipment, and nutritional items. TAF intends to expand the project to Kilifi and Makueni counties. The project is highly replicable, especially as the organization has developed a user-friendly toolkit manual and an android application.