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Preventing recidivism through education in Kenya

28 November 2022, Nairobi – Seventeen-year-old Joseph (not his real name) loves English, geography, and computers. During his leisure time the aspiring computer scientist also enjoys swimming, poetry, and gaming.

However, three years ago, Joseph, who grew up in Nairobi’s Kasarani area, almost went off the rails after he dropped out of school and fell into conflict with the law.

“At a certain point, things got out of hand. Due to peer pressure, I engaged in crime and was arrested and referred to the Wamumu Rehabilitation School in Kirinyaga County,” Joseph said.

“I really learned a lot while there although it was not the perfect place to be. It shaped me and strengthened my journey to self-discovery. I also learnt about mechanics and acquired weaving skills. Now I would like to pursue a degree in computer science,” said the teen who later transitioned to St Patrick’s High School in Uasin Gishu County.

Joseph typifies children who come into conflict with law and who face numerous challenges on their reintegration journey such as lack of scholastic materials, school fees, food and potable water while sometimes walking inordinate distances to access learning facilities.

That is why UNODC is partnering with the Directorate of Children Services (DCS) and Global Affairs Canada to assist poor secondary school-bound children, who were previously in conflict with the law, through provision of uniforms, boarding and scholastic materials. This is made possible under the Preventing Violent Extremism project which supports rehabilitation, vocational training, and social reintegration in children’s statutory institutions in Kenya and is funded by the Government of Canada.

Through this project UNODC has supplied Joseph with scholastic supplies such as books and uniforms.

“We determined the interventions by undertaking a needs assessment to identify the challenges that children, parents and teachers are facing in their bid to acquire and facilitate formal education,” UNODC’s Transition and Reintegration Consultant Ms Evalyn Kikuyu, said.

And he is not the only beneficiary. In August 2022, UNODC’s Regional Office for Eastern Africa in partnership with DCS supported 41 children who joined secondary school with scholastic and boarding materials.

The assistance is targeted at improving the children’s emotional well-being and their physical environment to enable them realise their potential and to thrive in society as they develop their knowledge, skill sets and self-esteem.

It comprised 24 sets of uniforms for boys, and 17 for girls, many of whom had already outgrown their clothes and whose parents were unable to afford new ones. The children also received exercise books and stationery to enhance their learning and support their integration with fellow students.

The recipients belong to five boys’ and six girls’ secondary schools across the country with two of them being private secondary schools. 

Within this cohort, 21 children received fees sponsorship from Airtel Kenya while the others received support from Mirai Futures Kenya, some faith-based organizations as well as individuals. The other children will benefit from government bursaries once the DCS finalizes the application process.

The elated recipients pledged to work hard in 2023 to ensure they succeed in their studies now that the fees burden had been lifted off their parents and guardians’ shoulders.

Through this project, UNODC has been supporting the Government of Kenya and contributing to the implementation of various Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 16 – on peace, justice and strong institutions; SDG 4 – on quality education; SDG 5 – on gender equality and SDG 17 – on global partnerships for the goals. 

[The name of the child mentioned in this report has been changed to maintain confidentiality while the schools’ names have also been omitted to protect the children in those institutions].

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