Tackling early marriage and pregnancy
Mwache Primary School has 599 pupils of which 264 are girls. The community's attitudes towards girls’ education was very low, with many girls getting married young or forced to earn a living in nearby city of Mombasa - which without an education could often mean prostitution or sex work. As a result, there were very high pregnancy rates.
Thanks to funding provided by The Big Lottery Fund, Mwache is part of Build Africa’s Wasichana project which is helping girls overcome the barriers stopping them attending and achieving at primary school.
The project has been helping to raise awareness of the importance of educating girls in the community, and supporting girls who have fallen pregnant to continue with their education.
Mr. Humphrey is a parent at Mwache:
“As a result of the meetings carried out, there has been less early pregnancies and early marriages. The boys and the girls clubs have helped the pupils to express their views freely and this has improved the self-esteem of the girls. Girls’ performance in the school is high and there is improved competition between the girls and the boys. I am certain now that we will have more achieving female pupils as they and their parents have realised the importance of education.”
The head teacher backs this up:
"The number of girls getting married early is dropping. Many do not drop out of school and have realised that marriage is not the answer to everything and are now able to freely articulate their rights to education. The girls know that education should come first.”
Mejumaa is the perfect example of the changing attitudes and increasing support for girls. She was meant to be married when she was in class seven, however she knew that she had options and approached the school for help to remain in school. The other parents and School Committee members approached Mejumaa’s parents and persuded them that Mejumaa should stay in school. She is now continuing her education and does not have to face early marriage.