Over 150 University graduates have today been deployed to over 70 primary schools in 10 counties across Kenya, under the Government’s national volunteer programme G-United, in order to offer remedial support to young struggling learners who have been identified by their class teachers.
Now in its second year, G-United is deploying 158 University graduates who have undergone two weeks of rigorous training at Thogoto Teacher’s Training College in Kiambu County to 10 counties: Busia, Nyeri, Machakos, Kilifi, Samburu, West Pokot, Kisumu, Meru, Kisii and Kajiado counties. Evaluations previously carried out in India, Ghana and Kenya* have shown that an additionally lightly trained volunteer working with remedial students can be a low-cost means of improving literacy.
G-United is an ambitious national volunteerism programme which was launched by H.E President Uhuru Kenyatta and H.E Deputy President William Ruto in September 2014, with the key aims of promoting national cohesion, strengthening primary educational outcomes as well as equipping graduates with 21st century skills through community service. In the counties volunteers are placed in homestays located in counties other than their home counties or counties of residence. They are assigned to schools and work closely with head teachers and class teachers to support struggling learners with English and Kiswahili.
‘I am delighted to join you this afternoon in celebrating the achievements of G-United, and in the flagging off of the 2nd Cohort of this National Volunteer Programme,’ said Dr. Korir Singoei, the Head of Law and Policy in the Executive Office of Deputy President William Ruto at the official deployment event.
‘The Kenya Vision 2030, the Second Medium Term Plan (MTP II) and the Government’s Social Economic Development Agenda consider volunteerism as a critical national asset to facilitate Kenya`s attainment of its socio-economic goals; including the sustainable Development Goals, the nascent post -2015 development agenda,’ Dr. Korir also said, thanking the Presidency of the Republic of Kenya for initiating the noble programme. He added that, ‘The Office of the Deputy President will take the lead in strengthening the delivery unit of the programme through supporting the establishment of a G-United Trust Fund which will oversee the scaling up of G-United in order to have an impact on millions of children and communities across the country.’
G-United is implemented by the Ministry of Education, under the Department of Basic Education, with technical support provided by Evidence Action, an organization which scales proven development solutions geared at benefitting millions of people around the world.
‘Evidence Action is honoured to be working closely with the Government (of Kenya) in order to support the design of this innovative, evidence-based program which seeks to meet ambitious and worthy goals,’ remarked Samantha Bastian, Deputy Director at Evidence Action Beta, at the cohort two deployment. ‘As G-United expands into more counties and schools, we hope that it will be complimentary to the efforts that teachers are making in their classes. We believe that with the right support offered by these volunteer graduate assistants, learners who are falling behind can catch up. .’
About two thousand University graduates applied to volunteer for remedial education in primary schools for the second cohort of G-United in late 2015, in a rigorous recruitment and selection process which resumed this year at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), followed by face to face interviews in 6 counties spread across Kenya.
The G-United Volunteer Graduate Assistants (VGAs) serve in participating primary schools in counties other than their home counties, for an uninterrupted period of a year. These VGAs provide educational support and serve as ‘education ambassadors’ in the surrounding community. Two volunteers are placed in each participating primary school and receive a modest living stipend each month.
Ahead of this deployment, training sessions steered by Ministry of Education officials and County Directors of Education are carried out at the county level, including Head Teacher orientation, Homestay selection overviews and other preparatory measures to ensure a seamless year of remedial support to the young struggling learners.
In its first year of implementation (September 2014-2015), 600 applicants were interviewed for Volunteer Graduate Assistant positions, out of which 148 successfully completed the training program, were placed in communities and schools, and started their one-year of service.
The programme is implemented with technical and administrative support from Evidence Action. Financial support has been provided by the Japanese Investment Co-operation Agency (JICA), the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) and the Safaricom Foundation.