The George Small Scholarship

In a developing country, education is the one sure ticket a child has to escape the grinding cycle of poverty. Only those who can read, write, and do basic math have any real hope of a better future.

The Small Project supports education in Kenya through The George Small Scholarship. The scholarship covers all costs associated with school: tuition, room and board, school supplies and uniforms, as well personal supplies such as mattress, bedding, towels, laundry soap, hygiene products and so on. It is important that the students receiving financial support fit in with the other students in their school. For many if not all of our students going away to boarding school means for the first time in the lives they have their own bed with bedding, three balanced meals a day, proper clothing, and medical care as needed. School fees are paid directly to the school. Similarly, uniforms, school and personal supplies are purchased from local merchants who are paid by us directly. Only older students receive small amounts of cash to pay for things like bus travel home at holidays.

Challenges Facing Kenyan Schools

Despite some recent improvements in public education, there are still many challenges for students, parents, and teachers. Primary schools in many small rural communities face a number of hurdles that compromise the quality of education: inadequate supplies, overcrowded classrooms, not enough teachers. While primary (K to 8) school tuition is free, students are still expected to provide their own school supplies and uniforms. And frequently there are a number of ancillary charges or fees (for example, field trips) that many families can’t afford.

Secondary schools in Kenya, while partially subsidized by the government, still have a fee structure that is out of reach for many poorer families. Even the students who are able to attend secondary often find themselves not well prepared and end up dropping out.

While most smaller rural communities in Kenya have a primary school, many don’t have a secondary school. Most secondary students, therefore, attend public boarding schools, which have higher fees. Consequently, despite passing the standardized exams at the end of Standard 8, about 60% of Kenyan students don’t continue with school because their families can’t afford the cost of going to a boarding school.

What We Do

The Small Project enrolls a number of carefully selected children in better equipped primary schools. These are almost always boarding schools. The immediate goal is for these students to do well on the country-wide final exams at the end of Standard (grade) 8 and thus earn a place in a good secondary school. We continue to support the student through secondary school and into appropriate post-secondary education or training. The ultimate objective to afford the student, and thus his or her family, the opportunity to break free from the cycle of poverty into which he or she was born.

How Much Does It Cost?

The annual cost for a student in boarding school, including room and board, tuition, school and personal supplies, medical care as needed, and some travel funds is averages $1000 a year. While some donors to The Small Project contribute this full amount, other supporters contribute what they can or they “team up” with friends or family to support a child.

Our goal is to find supporters who will support a student at least to the end of secondary school. We provide donors with a brief biography of the child that they are sponsoring as well as periodic reports and thank you letters from the student.