Life Skills-Based Training Empowers Juveniles to Self-Esteem at Dagoretti Rehabilitation Centre

Nairobi, Kenya - December 2018 : Engaging juvenile offenders with education and skills-based training is an integral component of successful rehabilitation and reintegration back into the community.

Article 40(1) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) stipulates that reintegration should be the primary objective of the juvenile justice system. State Parties to the convention should therefore consider community-based approaches to crime that offer opportunities for the juvenile justice system to communicate censure of the crime while establishing in a young offender a sense of connectedness to the community. Failure to rehabilitate and effectively reintegrate child offenders predisposes them to criminality in adulthood and undermines the possibility of them leading productive lives. In Kenya, research has revealed that many adult offenders in prisons first began engaging in crime as juveniles. It must be a necessity for stakeholders involved in juvenile justice reforms to collaborate in efforts to stop the cycle of recidivism through engaging child offenders in meaningful activities and life skills programs. Youth empowerment is the most effective prevention against future participation in criminal activities.

On 16 November 2018, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Regional Office in Eastern Africa (UNODC - ROEA) and the Department of Children Services (DCS) supported the graduation of 20 girls at the Dagoretti Rehabilitation Centre after a successful completion of a life-skills training conducted by Clean Start's Spear education coaches for six weeks. The training, known as Spear introduces, embeds and sustains behavioural and attitudinal change, benefitting the girls at all life stages as well as better equipping them for life after their stay at the rehabilitation centre. As one of the components of the training, the girls benefited from a company visit and mentorships on business and talent development from the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) as well as youth mentors from UNODC ROEA. The girls also participated in family group discussions through which they received counselling jointly with their respective parents.

Following this training, seven girls were assured of continuous sponsorship throughout their journey to rehabilitation and reintegration process. Four girls will receive sponsorship from Clean Start while 3 will receive it from KEPSA. The seven girls will therefore continue their education in January 2019.

At the graduation ceremony, each girl gave a speech on their personal progress upon completion of the Spear course. Here are a few of their remarks:

"…before Spear I could not stand and talk with people; I was not even using eye contact but now I can. When I grow up, I want to be a pilot. Thank you Spear."

"…the important lesson I learned from Spear was about growth mindset. Spear has helped me to come out of my comfort zone. My hopes for [the] future [is] to become a journalist and build my own orphanage."

"...now I can speak in front of people, make a team, and work together. Spear has changed my life, it has helped me, it will take me far. When I grow up, I want to become a judge and help those who cannot defend themselves."

This training is a result of a collaborative partnership between UNODC ROEA, DCS, Clean Start, and KEPSA in supporting the rehabilitation and reintegration of children in conflict with the law. UNODC ROEA plans to build on this partnership to train more girls at the beginning of 2019.

The graduation ceremony was attended by representatives from DCS, UNODC - ROEA, Clean Start, KEPSA, as well as other invited guests. 

This initiative contributes to the UNODC project on Preventing Violent Extremism through Rehabilitation, Vocational Training and Social Reintegration in correctional facilities in Kenya which is funded by the Government of Canada.