A complication of life for students and staff at secondary schools in Kenya is school fees. Running a school costs money… the providers of lab chemicals and the corn and beans for lunch all want to be paid for their merchandise and teachers want to be paid. For many families, at Kwa Muema which serves some of the poorest families it is by far most families, are seriously challenged to some up with school fees. The cost for the fall term at Kwa Muema was 3000 Kenya Shillings, at today’s exchange rate that is about $35. For this price kids get a chance to learn, morning tea and lunch. It comes to less than $1 per day and doesn’t seem like such a bad deal from our vantage point in the US. However, for subsistence farmers, especially those with more than one or two children it can be very difficult to come up with that much cash. At regular intervals students who have not paid are sent home for fees and told not to come back without some payment. This can result in the students missing quite a bit of school and shows up in student performance. Sometimes the kids wind up working in the shamba or around the home and do not come back to school.
The purpose of our scholarship program is to try and help kids stay in school, but it has the side benefit of providing a steady stream of income for the school, which, over time, improves the quality of the education available. $100 can allow a student to go to school with no interruptions for a year, it also provides a nutritious lunch on all school days.