How are the girls selected to attend Daraja?
The students selected rank among the highest in their primary schools, exhibit strong leadership qualities, and yet would have NO means of continuing their education without Daraja. The academy is one of the only free, non-religious secondary schools for girls in Kenya. Access to this type of quality education is virtually non-existent for the extremely destitute and rural population. Many are orphans, victims of AIDS, domestic abuse and sexual abuse.
Much attention is also paid to making sure that Daraja has a good representation of girls from throughout Kenya as well as from local communities, and from a variety of tribes and religious backgrounds. Kenya has a history of tribal violence and the Daraja founders, board and staff feel that it is important to create connections and friendships between tribes from different regions of the country. Currently we have 30 of 42 tribes and multiple religions represented.
We use three basic criteria when selecting a student:
Financial need of the family or student
We partner with local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and trusted community members that work with this population and can give us detailed background information about each student. If the student is able to attend secondary school in any other way (paying their own tuition, room and board, obtaining a scholarship etc.) they do not meet the first and most important of Daraja Academy’s three criteria.
About half of the interview questions revolve around times the student displayed leadership qualities, the student’s ability to think critically about themselves and their home areas, and their desire to lead in the future.
8th grade examination score and primary school performance
As part of the application process, a student submits their 8th grade examination (KCPE) results – we look for girls that score in the top of their primary class.
Lilian lived most of her life in Thika. When she was 10, her mother passed away of a “headache”. Five years later, her father was killed in a hit and run accident. With both parents deceased, she moved to her grandmother’s shamba (a small subsistence farm) about 5 miles from Nanyuki. Last December, her older brother, who had been living in Nairobi, passed away of pneumonia. Lilian has had to face many incredible challenges in her short life. Somehow she manages to keep a smile on her face. She has managed to turn her circumstances into a positive as she counsels others. For many students, Lilian is the first person they go to when they are struggling or sad. She is a wonderful example of a young woman of WISH.
“True ladies never give up but accept the reality. The best part of experience is the ride itself. They accept disappointments, rejections and even failures and continue with the journey without turning back, because they know the only barrier that can hinder them or make them losers are they themselves.”—Lilian