Joyce Kinyanjui is a 2016 Echidna Global Scholar and the program manager (and previous executive officer) at Women Educational Researchers of Kenya. In this video, she shares findings from an 11-county landscape analysis of mentorship programs for girls’ retention and learning outcomes in Kenyan public schools. Joyce paid particular attention to outlier schools that served marginalized communities but exceeded national average scores.
Through 200 interviews and 2,000 surveys as well as interviews with school stakeholders and experts, Joyce identified several contributing factors to the schools’ success. Some taught life skills; built after-school clubs; had mentoring components (including peer and community role models and counseling); and engaged parents in girls’ education. The mentoring programs in particular appear to have resulted in big gains in outcomes for girls, enhancing both academic and life skills. Such skills help girls avoid early marriages, pregnancies, and even deal more effectively with harmful traditional practices like female genital mutilation. However, Joyce found that programs often lacked support and structure, and made several recommendations to improve their impact on the most marginalized and high-risk girls.