Learning & Skills for Life

Providing educational subsidies and enrichment to under-represented children and young people in marginalised areas of Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi

More than 120 million children worldwide still fail to complete primary school, leaving them without even very basic skills. In the areas where we work thousands of children are denied the opportunity to go to school, find a decent job and lift their families out of poverty. We see that education is key for development, raising people’s productivity and creativity, promoting entrepreneurship and reducing poverty by increasing opportunities for employment and regeneration.

Means-tested bursaries enable us to improve school attendance by supporting school fees and providing extra-curricular enrichment activities such as tuition, homework clubs, library services and careers advice. These activities not only boost academic performance, but build self-esteem and confidence. We also deliver a comprehensive residential holiday tuition programme in Kenya each year which offers a range of extra academic classes alongside sports, drama, art and music.

More recently we have started to expand our community service mentoring programme, offering work experience for young people at schools, farms, community centres, guardian-run girls’ foster care homes and at the Mango Tree offices and model farms. These placements provide valuable practical work experience for young people, giving them new skills, careers advice and support, as well as adding value to the governments local education services and creating a culture of community social responsibility. We also deliver health and wellbeing projects to help reduce health related absenteeism and support sustainable livelihoods initiatives for the guardians of orphans to boost income levels so that they better afford to educate their children.     

Project Highlights

Kyela Orphan Support Programme (KOSP)

Our Tanzanian education sponsorship programme registered over 17,000 orphans between 2003-12. The majority of these young people have now completed their secondary education and over 2,500 have graduated with college or university qualifications and are employed in a wide range of professions. Around 15% of these students were sponsored at vocational training college and many of them attended KPC. We continue to fund the remaining 500 students through their education in partnership with Kanisa la Moravian, a faith-based organisation based in Kyela who ensure that these remaining students receive educational financial support and wrap-around social care services so that they can gain qualifications and skills for life.

Learning & Skills for Life – Kenya

We registered around 8,000 orphans between 2006-12 in Kenya and estimate that over 3,000 have now completed their secondary education and over 3,000 have graduated with college or university qualifications and are employed in a wide range of professions. Learning & Skills for Life in Kenya provides a range of educational projects and activities for our registered orphans, as well as other disadvantaged children and young people living in the rural areas of Homabay County. It includes means-tested educational bursaries, extra-curricular enrichment activities, extra tuition, homework clubs, library services and careers advice. A comprehensive residential holiday tuition programme is also delivered in The Mango Tree Kenya’s Education Training Centre, run during the school holidays, offering a range of extra academic classes alongside sports, drama, art and music.

After being sponsored through secondary school, those students who we have supported join our community service mentoring programme. They work as volunteers for one year as a way of ‘giving back’ to the community and building a culture of community social responsibility. It also gives young people practical work experience in local schools, farms, community centres, foster care homes and at the Mango Tree Kenya offices and model farms.

Kyela Polytechnic College (KPC)

Since our investment in the capital building project of Kyela Polytechnic College in 2011 nearly 2,000 students have graduated with a range of qualifications, the majority of whom are now successfully employed or self-employed. KPC offers a wide range of training courses, from carpentry, masonry and electrical engineering to business management, IT and journalism. This year the College also starting running a successful ‘bridging’ qualifying course (Kyela Open School Qualifying Test) giving secondary school leavers an opportunity to re-take exams so they can continue into further education.

The KPC leadership team have been dynamic in developing social enterprise programmes that compliment and support teaching, giving students valuable work experience and raising funding for the running of the college.

Case Study

Emmanuel Sichomi

Emmanuel’s father died when he was just three years old and his family was left destitute and unable to support his education. He left primary school to work herding cattle and, at 15, his uncle found him some construction work in Mbeya and helped him apply for sponsorship to study carpentry at KPC. After completing his training he got a job as an assistant tutor at the college where he also produces work for the College’s business enterprise programme. Now married to Furaha, a fellow student at KPC who attended a short tailoring course funded by the American NGO PACT, they have a one-month old baby daughter, Salome.

“Once I realised I was good at carpentry my confidence grew and I started to be proud of my work. Now it’s good to teach others and pass on the same opportunities. I hope to start my own business one day and offer employment within my community.”

If you’d like to support our work, donate here: