Lack of education
Lack of education is one of the major causes of poverty. This affects girls and women more than boys and men.
A study that was published in 2013 shows, that especially single mothers in Africa find themselves in a hopeless situation due to lack of education and general knowledge, which often makes them dependent on their parents, other relatives, or others in their community, for their own subsistence and that of their children. The study also shows that this applies to a greater extent to women in Kenya than elsewhere in Africa. This has devastating effects for these women, themselves, for their children and for their community at large.
Education is crucial to development, growth and poverty reduction. According to the Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), education is the surest way to lift people out of poverty. However, education costs money, which is precisely what poor people don't have. Thus, the vicious circle is complete.
To contribute to a solution, we have started the program Watu Wangu Academy in the year 2019. This program aims to give young women and, incidentally, men, with priority to single mothers, without a (completed) education, in the rural area of Kitui West Sub-County in Kenya practical vocational courses, as well as information and guidance in economic, legal and social fields, to enable them to become economically independent and socially resilient. This will empower them to build a decent life for themselves and their families, and will have a positive effect on their communities.
Watu Wangu Academy
The basis of the program are currently two practical courses:
- fashion & tailoring
- beauty care
The courses will train thirty students per field of study in the basic knowledge and skills in these fields, on five days per week for a period of three months.
After completion of the courses, students will be able to perform all common work in these areas. This will enable them to find a job or start their own business.
Information & Guidance
The women it concerns often don't only lack professional knowledge and skills; many of them are also dealing with a variety of social, legal and emotional issues. For this reason we have compiled an additional program, offering information and guidance in a variety of areas. Think of such things as legal, commercial and administrative knowledge and skills; computer knowledge and skills; setting up a business plan and applying for a micro credit; job application; legal aid for the application of identity papers, birth certificates and child support; social support; and family planning, sexual education and HIV-prevention, as well as information and help with domestic and sexual violence.
In the spring of 2019 we started with the first group of women in the studies Fashion & Tailoring and Beauty Care. On the 31st of May of that year we had the honour to issue the certificates to those ladies who have completed the courses with sufficient result.
During this first project we have learnt much. We noticed, for example, that lack of child care facilities was a stumbling block for some women. Also the necessity to provide food for their families caused absenteism when individual women had the opportunity to make some money in day labour. And finally there was a number of women who had to come from far, which caused some issues.
With what we have learnt through this first group, we have adjusted the program. We now offer child care, meals and boarding, enabling more women to participate.
The plan was to complete a maximum of 4 course projects each year. And then there was Covid-19, forcing Watu Wangu Academy to close for much of the years 2020 and 2021. On top of that, the necessity of social distancing forced us to work with smaller groups.
This is our aim: within 6 months after completion of the course at least 30% of students are financially independent, and 75% of them are more socially and economically active to such a degree that it has a significant and positive influence on their lives. In order to measure these results, we perform a scan at the enrolment, and a result measurement approximately 6 months after completion of the course.
We have found that 17 of the 31 participants of the pilot in 2019 were financially independent on 30 September of that year; of the 97 students of 2020 24 were financially independent by 31 December of that year; and of the 143 students who completed a course in 2021 38 were financially independent by 31 December of that year. We also found that virtually all of the aforementioned students were socially and economically significantly more active.
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Foundation Watu Wangu has been recognised by the Dutch tax authorities as a Public Benefit Organisation. This means that taxpayers for the Dutch tax may deduct their donations from their taxable income.