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The 'book of life skills'

The encyclopedia of career and education options aimed for changing peer pressure into peer education to give the girl charge of her destiny

Photo of Ovonyoli Wanjiku
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What problem does your innovation solve?

The innovation seeks to refocus the direction of education from the current trend that focuses on good grades to a platform that focuses on individuality and the unique development of the person as a member of the community. The final product of the innovation upon implementation is a multifaceted society that utilises the unique abilities of each individual. The book will guide the girls on available skills after which they can partner with an adult in the sector for mentorship.

Explain your innovation.

The innovation is a 'book of life skills' with input from different survivalists and experts in various fields. My explanation is by sharing a personal story. I had my first period in form one during a physics lesson. I was not popular and none of the girls were my friends. But immediately they saw the blood stains on my skirt, the girls sprung into action. One fetched water and wipes to clean my skirt, another brought a sanitary towel, and a group of them gathered around to create a wall of privacy. I had my mom and teachers plus theoretical knowledge on the situation, but in this emergency, only my peers were available to help. During emergency situations, relief workers access the people in need of aid and provide food and blankets. Knowledge is the only basic human need neglected once the relief team meets the physiological needs. The relief packages will, in my plan, include the 'book of life skills' for every community. In the context of my personal story, the girls that took charge of my situation had the knowledge and experience from a given source, probably parents and books. The 'book of life skills' will be the source of that knowledge in areas and experiences unknown to the girls in an emergency situation. Thus when they can not leave their homes in situations of armed conflict, they can gather in small groups and share the knowledge. Peer to peer education will be the primary mode of operation with individuals in a high level taking charge of those below them.

Who benefits?

Specific beneficiaries of the innovation are girls from 4- 18 years through provision of basic education and life skills. The girl with the highest level of knowledge will be the custodian of the book so that while enlightening others below her level, she can further her knowledge and experience. When she masters all the material in the book and selects and area of speciality, the book goes down to the next individual. The sharing will progress to all the girls in a community as each chooses an area of speciality so that in the end the society will have tailors, bakers, carpenters, engineers and farmers among other useful crafts that will ensure survival and continuity. The goal is to expose the young girls to different crafts even in emergency situations so that their choices in life are not limited by the fear of their parents that result in a decision to lock them and marry them off prematurely in a bid to ensure their survival. The book will allow the girls to choose their destiny.

How is your innovation unique?

The 'book of life skills' is unique because it is a one stop shop for education and career. The introduction chapters will be general on education and career while the proceeding chapters will detail each career path. The girl in possession of the book has her destiny in her hands literally. As a young girl, all I ever wanted was to be an air hostess. Thinking of it today, I realise it came from my reading of a story 'Anna the air hostess' which was my first exposure to career. Latter I encountered teaching and it has been my passion since. The basis of my explanation is; girls in an emergency situation have options limited to hiding, getting married and making homes. With the broad selection in the book, which is like an encyclopedia of careers, the girl can self educate if the parents are unwilling then find the passion within her to use the knowledge to better the society. Then through peer education, the girl can empower other girls to find freedom in being their optimal selves.

What are some of your unanswered questions about the idea?

The conceptual gap in the innovation is the exit strategy. My innovation focuses on prolonged displacement except, the situation is not permanent. After resettlement, there is a high likelihood that the book will become redundant and probably get destroyed not knowing that the dynamic nature of the world is a vicious cycle of good times and bad times. The innovation also operates on the assumption that in every community there is a level of literacy with reading and writing. If that is not the case, the implementation will first constitute basic education to ensure that the custodians of the book can read and write.

Tell us more about you.

I am a University graduate of public health and community development from Maseno University and I have been a teacher for the last 11 years. I do not have any connections outside of Kenya. At the moment, I am having talks with a potential collaborator who runs a primary school in the slum dwelling of Mathare where she interacts with families in emergency situations. The collaboration is the team I am looking to work with given their expertise emergency situation and the education system.

What is the primary type of emergency setting where your innovation would operate?

  • Natural disaster
  • Armed conflict
  • Prolonged displacement
  • Extreme drought

Emergency Setting - Elaborate

In 2007 the nation of Kenya suffered post election violence from which it is still recovering decades latter. although most systems have resumed normalcy, the displaced individuals from tribal clashes still live in fear. In the coming two months, the nation is set for another election and individuals not in their tribal areas are experiencing panic. The outcome is parents pulling their children out of school to return to their tribal homes and in the process disrupting their education to hide.

Where will your innovation be implemented?

In Nairobi, Kenya, there is a slum dwelling called mathare slums. It is home to approximately 500,000 people with marauding gangs of youths who are in the unfortunate situation because of poverty. The location is a settlement area that the government has unsuccessfully tried to rehabilitate for years. Despite the government efforts, the area remain high risk with frequent gang battles and police involvement. Mathare is the location of the primary school that is my likely collaborator.

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

In-country Networks

I chose Mathare because my family owns a portion of land in the area and I have for years been looking to develop it into a rescue centre for girls in emergency situations. However, my experience in Kenya and the sector is in my work as a teacher in a similar project in a gang ridden neighbourhood of Kayole. The institution is Joshua Orbit international. With their partnership, I have an edge in implementing a project similar to theirs that will ensure the education and future of the girl child.

Sector Expertise

  • I've worked in a sector related to my innovation for more than a year.

Sector Expertise - Elaborate

I have experienced crime, gang violence and teen pregnancies since I graduated college and became the Principal in Orbit school. The founder of the institution is of European descent. She started from kindergarten level and grew the school to high school level. Working with the kids, parents and teachers on her behalf taught me the needs of the girls in the emergency situations as well as the helplessness of their families. Peer education with input from the book will give these girls a future.

Innovation Maturity

  • Early Stage Innovation: I am exploring my innovation, refining, researching, and gathering inspiration.

Organization Status

  • We are not registered but plan to in the future.

Organization Location

The organisation is based in Nairobi, Kenya. The specific location is Mathare, in east of the Nation's capital. The pilot will run from this location.


Attachments (1)

knowledge is power.docx

The user experience map


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Photo of Ovonyoli Wanjiku

I like the suggestion of geomapped network of mentors for future trainees. Thank you for the input. This will mean that incase of an emergency situation, the world is ready with trainers who can work with the girls to ensure their future. Awesome!!

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