Across Kenya, girls’ enrollment in early years of school is high, but by the end of Standard 8, many classes don’t have a single girl. Once girls drop out, either to take care of a child or to try to find low-paid employment, their future employment possibilities are significantly restricted. Without finishing primary school, they are not eligible to start secondary school, attend government-run vocational training schools, or apply for many jobs in the formal sector. Often, they also don’t have the capital needed to start their own businesses.
Bridge Centres re-open these possibilities for vulnerable girls and youth in Kenya. To reduce school re-entry barriers, the centres are located in easily-accessible spaces and provide child care for mothers who need it. Qualified teachers teach an accelerated academic curriculum so that students can quickly master the content and be eligible for certificates of primary education. Additional classes ill focus on developing the leadership and business skills young women need to succeed in higher education or to start and run a profitable business. At the same time, students have access to an online platform that provides information about HIV and sexual reproductive health and rights and provides virtual counseling, and in-person counselors work one-on-one and with small groups to help students create family and career plans for the future. We also connect the students with health care and business loan providers who offer affordable rates and comprehensive services.