MAma Ada Alumni Association
The Experience of Many Kenyan Students
William Koech is an alum of The Mama Ada Foundation’s tuition scholarship program who is working with other alums to form the Mama Ada Alumni Association in Kenya.
William recently wrote about the challenges of getting an education in Kenya, “Getting a basic education in Kenya proves challenging to a family living in poverty. And yet, the majority of families in Kenya live below the poverty line, earning less than one dollar per day; recent national statistics showed that more than 50% of the families in Kenya live below the poverty level. This is a great danger to future generations to be able to live in better living standards than their current status.”
He continued, “Education is an equalizing agent that reduces the gap between the poor and the rich. This is true for me, since I am a practical example to many people. My life before education cannot be compared to my current status. Several other neighbors in my village of Ziwa have left a mark in many lives since education has changed their living standard drastically and reduced the gap between the rich and the poor. The Mama Ada Foundation has brought a big wake up to many families who had lost hope in their future – one of them being me, my wife Mildred, Linnet Jepkemei, Japheth Yegon, Irene, Janet Mining, Bornes Melly alums) and many others.”
Some of the challenges that William went on to discuss are:
“Financial challenges: Most of the families living below the poverty line in Kenya cannot raise the tuition and other costs associated with education, especially for high school and above. This results in many students being at home during school time and even dropping out of school, thus increasing their vulnerability to poverty at early stages. Other challenges related to financial costs include: school uniform costs, better shelter to improve the learning environment (such as electricity or lighting at night), food and health concerns and others.
“Getting a basic education in Kenya proves challenging to a family living in poverty.” - William KoechCultural practices and beliefs: The nature of some cultural practices and beliefs can bring down the fortunes that come with education, including a sometimes negative attitude towards “western living style” with education a part of it; early marriages and pregnancies; parents forcing children to work in agricultural lands or other manual work to earn a living for their families.
Learning facilities, amenities and poor road network: School-going children are forced to walk long distances every morning and evening. The scarcity of amenities like hospitals, schools and recreational facilities can make it difficult for students to attend school. For example, some children miss crucial vaccinations that leaves them vulnerable to preventable diseases like polio, tetanus, and measles among others.”
In closing, we are so proud of all the success that William has created in his life. With a master’s degree from prestigious Nairobi University and a very good job now, William is a role model to many young people in Kenya and to us in the United States. His hard work, discipline and tenacity have certainly paid off and we are so happy to have played a part in his success!
- Julie Keller