Academic Conundrum Among Coastal Communities

In the project dubbed “Kilifi County For Higher Education” rolled out from February to April 2018, courtesy of Washindi Africa in partnership with Smiles of Hope and Third Hand Initiative. The project aimed at empowering the Kilifi county youths to join institutions of higher learning in a bid to flip the academic narrative in the region by addressing issues of perception on poverty, opportunities available to the Kilifi youths academically, training on scholarship application and linkages. Spearheaded by Winnie Barawa, who doubles as Kilifi County Youth Senator and Director at Washindi Africa, the team observed that the challenges facing youths on matters of education are almost similar across the entire County.

Registration process at the forum, COURTESY/KILIFI COUNTY FOR HIGHER EDUCATION


Which per se may give rise to a destitute generation if not contained in its earlier stages. Poverty may lead to improper nutrition, having to fend for or looking after siblings and the invalids and perhaps carrying out heavy household chores on school days. Despite the fact that country regimes for over 15 years have provided free primary education and, of late, subsidized secondary school course as well as the availability of educational kitties through Higher Education Loans Board, Community Development Fund, Ward Development Fund among other identified educational financiers, poverty has created a morbid mentality that it’s always difficult to achieve anything progressive under the sky. Many are the youths whose parents/guardians lack any clue on how to access the educational kitties or how to call out for such assistance.


Very few households could boast of university graduates who are excelling in their careers. Still, the few graduates around spark no motivation to the younger generations as they keep whining that there are no sustainable jobs around and that only political offices enjoy affluence and power. Learners thus lack proper mentor-ship, inspiration and guidance towards projected goals and ambitions.

“When they finish school they never come back here, we only see them on social media or during social events: burials, weddings and christmas”, said one of the youths.

A moderated discussion on challenges facing Kilifi Youths~Magarini Forum


Youth live in fear of getting bewitched should they outperform their peers in academics or profession. Homesteads feared to be deserted by the most promising intellectuals due to the “historical” perception that they will not make it in life where a section of family members are suspected to be procuring the services of wicked magicians to bring bad luck or even cause death to the learned before they prosper.


Combined with LIFESTYLE PRESSURES, the young learners are forced out of school after succumbing to bad cultures and immorality associated for instance casual sex leading to unwanted pregnancies and forced marriages, alcoholism and drug abuse, engagement in illicit trade and perhaps unpromising careers that may look lucrative but have no academic or moral backbone e.g online betting, harlotry, drug trafficking etc.


The mainstream media, social media and perhaps verbal communication as sources of information may not be availing timely and accurate information that may lead to the empowerment of communities when it comes to learning and career opportunities that may be available to the youth. Majority of our youth own smartphones which, if appropriately used, may serve to their advantage. However, very few among youth and learners engage their smartphones for accessing proper information.


Generally, any school’s excellence relies on the support of teachers, learning aids, board of management and the community at large. There’s evident marginalization on lowly rated schools (eg district and community schools) and as such, the expected production is culturally poor.

“I saw most of the laboratory apparatus during my KCSE exam, I had only learnt them in the books but never saw them”


In some areas, learners have to walk long distances to attend classes which again may have over-populated classrooms. The ratio of learner to teachers may be below expectations and perhaps the schools are generally dilapidated thus causing discomfort to learners where there’s adverse weather conditions and outbreak of diseases.


Most communities look upon local administrators, educational officers and the political willpower to engage in the policies that directly or indirectly affect the education sector. It’s unfortunate that most schools have been abandoned by quality assurance & assessors that would have otherwise identified for mitigation the most basic challenges facing learners.

Winnie Barawa
Lead Coordinator
Kilifi County For Higher Education Program
Elizabeth Aruba
Kilifi County For Higher Education Program
Elizabeth Ziro
Kilifi County For Higher Education Program


Amir Mangisi

Youth Participant

Kilifi Form Leavers Forum.

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