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"Adopt-a-School" partnership to benefit reintegration of adolescents

11 November 2022, Eldoret - Twenty-one adolescents who have transitioned from rehabilitation schools to mainstream education in Eldoret will benefit from an “Adopt-a-School” partnership launched this week.

The Directorate of Children Services (DCS), Airtel Kenya, UNODC and two high schools in Eldoret are partnering to support the adolescents to continue their secondary education and build a brighter future as they reintegrate into society. 

Airtel Kenya will cover the students’ school fees and other education expenses over a three-year period plus assist with connectivity for one school’s IT hub to help the school community embrace the digital age. 

“Being in a school environment helps young people learn to live with others, keep time and respect authority. These are lifelong habits which prepare them for the challenges of the work environment and help them to reintegrate, at the family and community levels,” UNODC’s Head of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice for Eastern Africa, Ms Charity Kagwi-Ndungu, said at the launch. 

UNODC has been supporting DCS with the rehabilitation and reintegration of girls and boys aged between 14 and 17 years who are, or have been, attending rehabilitation schools across Kenya. 

This is part of a project funded by Global Affairs Canada that ultimately aims to reduce recidivism and radicalization to violent extremism among child and youth offenders in Kenya. The project encourages the involvement of the private sector to engage with communities and help children and youths who were in conflict with the law to rebuild their lives. 

In commenting on the launch, the Principal Children Officer at DCS, Mr Stanley Rotich, said: “This is an impressive step towards ensuring continuity of this project and its sustainability”. 

The two schools involved in Adopt-a-School were thanked for going beyond their obligations to support the adolescents, as numerous teachers were serving as mentors and guides. The DCS Uasin Gishu County Director, Mr Richard Mugata, was also acknowledged for his support in ensuring that the young people’s welfare and best interests were of paramount concern. 

In 2021, UNODC originally introduced this project to Airtel Kenya, who commenced supporting the transition of this cohort of adolescents just over a year ago. With the benefit of greater education security and individual attention from teachers and caretakers, their academic performance has improved. 

“Even when you fail the first time, don't give up. Try again and you will succeed. Be the best in whatever you do best, including your skills and talents,” Airtel Africa’s Vice President Corporate Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility, Mr Emeka Oparah, urged the students. 

The first few months after children and youths are released from institutional care are critical as they separate from the structure, supervision or support that the institutions have provided. Released children often return to families and communities that cannot appropriately accommodate their needs and tend to face risks that increase their possibilities of recidivism such as stigma, exclusion and marginalization. 

Education is proven to reduce recidivism rates and increase the success of rehabilitation and reintegration programmes by providing children and youths with opportunities to change their behaviours and personal values. 

Education also helps develop habits of the mind that will foster well-being and prepares them for their lives post-release. Moreover, gaining employability skills will ensure that they contribute to society and the prosperity of their communities. In this vein, students attending the launch were reminded of a quote by Malcom X: “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare today”. 

Note: All partners involved in this Adopt-a-School initiative are deeply grateful to the two schools in Eldoret, the names of which are not revealed here to protect the adolescents’ identities. These are schools that have considered the education and social growth needs of these young people and given them a chance to regain their footing in a competitive world.

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