Four stories about surviving the odds, studying hard, and succeeding

They’ve faced war, loss, poverty, and ridicule. But the four girls featured here remain positive and are finding ways to improve their situations. One of the ways they’re doing this is by taking remedial classes at Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, as part of KEEP Remedial Education—a project by World University Service of Canada in partnership with Windle Trust Kenya (WTK), which was selected for the HEA’s First Cohort 2016

The program has quickly become hugely popular, and the KEEP staff reports its having a hard time keeping up. Meant for girls who are struggling in school, the classes allow students to learn at their own pace, with subjects ranging from science to Kiswahili. Teachers say that students are showing incredible enthusiasm to learn and improve their grades.


Catherine’s story

“My name is Catherine Charles Isiah and I’m 19. I escaped from DRC because of tribal conflict. I travelled to Tanzania with my sister and then to Nairobi. Both my parents died while I was away and there was no one to take care of them or to pay my school fees. I now live in the Kakuma refugee camp with my sister, and attend remedial classes.

Before starting the remedial classes, I used to perform poorly in English and math but now my performance is good. I recently scored thirty-nine out of fifty in English (39/50). My average score last term was 425 out of 500. The teachers in the remedial classes teach well, paying attention to the topics that I do not understand.”

Emily’s story

“My name is Emily Somoyaka. I’m 16 years old. I go to a regular school along with attending remedial classes. I escaped the war in DRC along with my parents and siblings. The situation was not good in DRC; there was no opportunity to learn because the war made it impossible to go to school. Remedial classes have been helpful. I had been getting low grades but am now scoring an average of 300 out of 500. My best performance is in math, English, and Kiswahili. My scores have improved because of the small classes, which make it possible for teachers give attention to the students. In remedial classes, every girl is able to understand what is taught. I appreciate remedial and it is helping us girls.”

Najwa’s story

“I’m Najwa Hassabu. I was separated from my mother during the war in the Nuba mountains of South Sudan and I do not know where to find her. I now live in Kakuma refugee camp after traveling many days from Sudan to escape the war. I started the remedial program in class four, without having had any previous education.The teachers are good and the classes are small compared to regular classes. The teachers are able to pay attention to every student, and I have been able to improve my marks from an average of 150 when I started remedial to an average of 280 out of 500. My highest marks are in English.”

Clementine’s story

“My name is Clementine Kashindi and I’m 18. I study in class seven at a primary school in Kakuma refugee camp. I come from a household of 11: two girls, seven boys, and our parents. I take six subjects, including Kiswahili, English, Math, Social Studies, and Christian Religious Education. Science is my favorite subject. I go to regular school from Monday to Friday and attend remedial classes on Saturday. Every morning before I go to school I wake up very early to prepare breakfast for my family and prepare my younger siblings for school. When I return from school, I prepare dinner for the family, fetch water, wash the dishes, and bathe my youngest siblings. I often miss afternoon classes because of these chores, which affects my performance in school. My weekends are also filled with plenty of chores, but remedial classes have been a lifesaver! Since I started remedial classes, my mother does most of the chores while I am at school.

I like remedial a lot because I have time to catch up with my studies and put extra effort in the areas where I have difficulties. It also gives me a chance to play with my friends. Before remedial classes my highest mark was 230 and lowest was 185, but recently I scored 318 out of 500. I want to be a nurse in the future because I want to save lives. As a mature girl, I face a lot of difficulties in the community. I am often mocked because of my age, since I am still in primary school. My family has often considered marrying me off but I stand firm in my decision of getting an education and fulfilling my dreams.”


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