Empowering street children in Kenya: the role of education
Njoroge, Martin C.
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Education is an important tool that can be used to empower marginalized groups so that they can be integrated in the development of a country. This importance notwithstanding, many street children in Kenya have not been to school and are thus disadvantaged when it comes to participation in the affairs of the nation. This study set out to investigate the educational levels of Nairobi’s street children specifically focusing on their literacy and numeracy skills. It further aimed to establish their career aspirations and the foreseen challenges in the pursuit of their dreams and vision. The location of the study was Nairobi, Kenya. Judgmental sampling method and social network techniques were used to reach the required sample of 120 street children. Interview was the main data collection method. The data were later analyzed, the patterns presented in tables, followed by the discussion of the results. The findings of the study indicate that street children in Kenya use Sheng to interact with one another while on the streets. They do not have mastery of English, the official language in Kenya. Nevertheless, the street children could speak their mother tongues fluently but very few of them could write or read texts in the languages. In the acquisition of numeracy skills, the street children were able to count from one to one hundred in Kiswahili. Some of them could count in English too, and also in their mother tongues. Unfortunately, they were not able to do simple arithmetic involving addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. This is because they had not been to school where such skills are usually acquired. In terms of aspirations, the street children had great dreams of where they wished to be in the near future. Some wanted to become pilots, doctors, teachers, lawyers and others wished to be car mechanics, salonists and pastors. They also knew that for them to achieve their vision, they would need to receive quality education so that they could compete favorably with their age mates in the regular schools. The findings imply that there is need to address the educational needs of the street children so that they can access formal education. The establishment of an education for life center that would act as a transition between the streets and formal schools for the street children has been proposed. The study has also outlined a syllabus that can be followed in the teaching of the English language at the center