Kenyan First Lady urges concerted efforts to break barriers hindering girl child education

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NYAMIRA, Kenya

Kenya’s First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has expressed the need for concerted efforts to break the barriers that impede girl child education. She emphasized that girls must be given an opportunity to reach their full potential.

“Let us prioritise and support our girls by presenting them with safe spaces to pursue their dreams and be treated as equals alongside boys,” she said.

The First Lady was speaking today when she officially opened the Magura Secondary School in Nyamira County constructed by the Zarina and Naushad Merali Foundation, in partnership with Sasini Limited, at a cost of Kshs 50 million.

She asked the students benefiting from the new school, not to waste the wonderful opportunity that has been provided to them.

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta with Dr. Naushad Merali, Chairman of Zarina and Naushad Merali Foundation during the official opening of Magura Secondary School, Kipkebe Limited/Borabu, Nyamira County

The school provides secondary education to a primary school population of 4000 children of workers at the Sasini-Kipkebe Tea Estate and the neighboring villages.

“That is why improving access to quality education is one of our national priorities. Education is the anchor and also the enabler of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values. It provides us with choices and opportunities to thrive,” she said.

Extolling the benefits of education, the First Lady pointed out that expanding educational access for the girl child was not only an urgent social need but also a direct link to her survival as an adolescent, especially her health management.

“I am especially pleased to be officiating in this event that embraces the empowerment of girls.  To have singled out girls as a priority for this school is truly a shared goal,” she said.

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta tour a classroom during the official opening of Magura Secondary School, Kipkebe Limited/Borabu, Nyamira County

The First Lady commended the Zarina and Naushad Merali Foundation, and Sasini PLC for investing in the noble cause of building a model secondary school in the area, boosting access to high school education for both girls and boys.

“I applaud your vision to invest in the future of children so that they can improve their life chances and have an opportunity to make a difference in whatever role they play in society,” she remarked. “Because, as parents, we all have dreams for our children and want to change their life circumstances.”

The First Lady pointed out that one of the key sustainable development goals is to embrace social change that provides people, especially marginalized and vulnerable groups, with an equal opportunity to achieve their potential in life.

But being unable to attend school is not the only obstacle for a community’s development, she notes.

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and Women Representative Jerusha Momanyi join students in a dance during the official opening of Magura Secondary School, Kipkebe Limited/Borabu, Nyamira County

“Poor health and unsanitary living conditions can impede productivity. It also affects children’s school attendance as well as their overall performance,” the First Lady added.  

She also applauded the Zarina and Naushad Merali Foundation, and Sasini PLC for putting a health facility in each of the four tea estates in Kipkebe, saying health promotion and provision of sustainable, quality and affordable health services were a critical concern for national development.

“Your commitment to providing families living in this area with access to free and affordable health services is a concern that resonates with the Beyond Zero,” the First Lady said.

The medical facilities have made it possible for needy patients, especially women and children, to access health services and brought health services closer to the community.

Other speakers included Sameer Group Chairman and sponsor of the school, Naushad Merali, Sasini PLC Chairman James McFie and Kipkebe Limited Managing Director Sashi Menon while Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed’s speech was read on her behalf by Education Chief Administrative Secretary Simon Kachapin.

Nyamira Woman representative Jerusha Momanyi, Senator Okongo Omogeni, Borabu MP Ben Momanyi and his North Mugirango counterpart Joash Nyamoko also spoke at the event, thanking the First Lady for working to improve the lives of women and children through her Beyond Zero campaign and other initiatives.