Nic Hailey launches Leave No Girl Behind programme in Kenya

Leave No Girl Behind launch
UK High Commissioner Nic Hailey and Education Cabinet Secretary Dr Amina Mohamed at the launch of the ‘Leave No Girl Behind’ programme. Photo: Twitter/AMB_A_Mohammed

Yesterday, UK High Commissioner Nic Hailey joined Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Education, Dr Amina Mohamed to launch the ‘Leave No Girl Behind’ programme at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development.

The programme is part of the Girls’ Education Challenge (GEC) which was launched by the UK in 2012 as a 12 year commitment to reach the most marginalised girls in the world and is the largest global fund dedicated to girls’ education.

Through the programme, Britain has committed to ensuring over a million girls in some of the poorest countries, including girls who have disabilities or are at risk of being left behind, receive a quality education.

Addressing attendees, Mr Hailey explained that educating girls is in everyone’s interests because educated women earn more, their children have better life chances and that gender equality could add $12 trillion to the global economy by 2025.

Nic Hailey Leave No Girl Behind launch
UK High Commissioner Nic Hailey at the launch of the ‘Leave No Girl Behind’ programme. Photo: Twitter/AMB_A_Mohammed

As the largest donar-funded global girls’ education programme, through their strong focus on improving literacy, numeracy and life skills, GEC projects are supporting girls to seek out and secure their full potential.

Addressing attendees, the High Commissioner explained “Kenya is our biggest partner anywhere for DfID Girls’ Education Challenge (GEC) girls education programme. Through the programme we’ve reached almost 700,000 girls here. Nothing has more positive impact on future development than educating girls.”

Leave No Girl Behind launch
Nic Hailey and Dr Amina Mohamed speak to the press at the launch of the ‘Leave No Girl Behind’ programme. Photo: Twitter/AMB_A_Mohammed

At the end of GEC phase 1, 926 classrooms were built or renovated; 5,316 disabled children have been enrolled in schools; 27,855 teachers have been trained; 829,726 textbooks or students kits have been disbursed; 669,227 girls have been reached and girls’ bursaries, stipends or cash transfers totalling £2,095,776 have been issued.

Announcing the launch of the Leave No Girl Behind programme, Mr Hailey said it will tackle “problems faced by the most vulnerable in society. In the current phase, the UK will invest a further Ksh14.6billion to educate nearly 350k girls in Kenya.”

Girls’ education in Kenya

Kenya introduced universal primary education in 2003 and enrolment numbers in schools rose to 84%. However, in some regions, where poverty levels are high, only 19 per cent of girls are enrolled in school. Families are often required to pay for textbooks, uniforms, and teachers’ salaries – costs they are often unable to meet. In addition, when children attend school, they are not contributing to the family’s income, creating a perceived short-term ‘opportunity cost’. This can make it difficult for families to justify sending a child to school, and in communities where girls are expected to marry early and join their husband’s family, parents do not readily see how education benefits their daughters or the family. This is exacerbated in secondary school as girls reach adolescence and the costs around education are higher.

GEC Kenya has been responsible for six projects which have reached 669,227 beneficiaries costing £65 million.

The six projects supported are: 

  • iMlango (a word derived from the Swahili for doorway or portal) which is a private sector-led project. It aims to help 70,000 marginalised girls improve their learning and transition to the next stage of education, through the innovative use of technology. The project provides schools with satellite broadband and computer labs which allow students to use an online programme for tutoring in maths. The project generates real-time data on student attendance and also on their learning progress, so the teaching content is tailored to each individual child. It also provides stipends and loan schemes for parents.
  • The Kenya Equity in Education Project (KEEP) which aims to support girls from Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps and the surrounding communities for whom conflict, displacement, and extreme poverty have made access to education extremely challenging. The project helps these girls to stay in school as long as possible and attain functional literacy and numeracy. It helps them to be safe and supported in school and at home, and to make successful transitions to further education or employment. It focuses on girls, mainly adolescents, who are at the highest risk of dropping out of school, supporting them financially, offering remedial classes and equipping them with life skills and greater self-confidence. The project also works with local and national governments and the surrounding communities, notably the men and boys within them, to increase support for girls’ education and ensure the long-term sustainability of the project.
  • Let our Girls Succeed (Wasichana Wetu Wafaulu) which works with highly marginalised girls living in arid and semi-arid lands and slum areas in Kenya. It provides primary school girls with the qualifications, skills and confidence necessary to successfully transition to a productive next phase of life. Through improved teaching quality, the majority of girls are expected to transition to secondary level education. With improved literacy and numeracy skills, the girls also have a greater chance of being able to attend higher performing schools. Other girls are supported to transition to alternative pathways focused on employment and technical and vocational education and training.
  • Jielimishe which aims to improve the life chances of 10,120 marginalised girls in primary and secondary school, allowing them to complete a full cycle of education and transition to the next level, including alternative pathways such as technical and vocational education and training. The approach focuses on increasing girls’ motivation to learn through girls’ clubs and mentorship schemes; improving the quality of teaching through teacher training, coaching and mentorship; and encouraging local communities to support girls’ education. The project also targets 6,980 boys in primary and secondary school to ensure that boys also go to school and benefit from a supportive learning environment.
  • Leonard Cheshire Disability Expanding inclusive education strategies for girls with disabilities Kenya’ project which aims to increase the educational and vocational opportunities of girls with disabilities in five counties within the Lake Region. It tackles the specific barriers that girls with disabilities face in order to improve their quality of life, skills and livelihood opportunities. The girls in this project are helped to transition through primary into secondary school, vocational training and self-employment, or adult education and home learning programmes. In tandem, the project works to build positive attitudes and community support for disabled children. It also works with families to create households that are willing and able to support the girls’ journey through to adulthood and beyond.
  • The Discovery Learning Alliance (DLA) project which aims to improve girls’ literacy and numeracy skills, develop girls’ life skills, and raise girls’ aspirations. Their approach combines professional development of teachers with video technology and teaching resources. These are used to encourage i) learning, ii) the completion of primary schooling and the transition to secondary school, and iii) the pursuit of both educational and life goals. By improving the quality of education with government partners and shifting community attitudes and actions to further support girls’ education, the project aims to positively impact girls (and boys) now and for years to come. Known locally as the Nawiri project, and in partnership with Kenya’s Ministry of Education, DLA will reach a total of 520 primary and junior secondary school communities.

If you have any queries or comments regarding the Girls’ Education Challenge, you can  email the Fund Manager here:


  1. How can I get The Kenya Kesho School For Girls, a Primary School For Girls, in a very rural area of Kwale County recognised? I need to talk to people connected to girls’ education and how I can make the best of what I have.

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