By Gift Briton

CFK Africa, an international non-profit organization based in the informal settlement of Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya has partnered with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to leverage evidence-based solutions to increase primary school graduation rates.

CFK Africa becomes one of the 10 global partners with MIT to study evidence-based solutions to improve educational outcomes among students. The NGO is one of the 120 organizations that applied for the Leveraging Evidence for Action to Promote Change (LEAP) program, a collaborative initiative between MIT and the Jacobs Foundation.

“We have long looked at our own data to see how we can help children finish their schooling. We are excited to be working with MIT to take that research even further and make our programs more effective,” said Jeffrey Okoro, interim deputy director of strategic initiatives for CFK Africa who heads the program.

Under the LEAP program, a pair of researchers will work with CFK Africa’s education initiatives to increase the rate of primary school graduation among students in informal settlements like Kibera in Nairobi.

In its Best Schools Initiative, CFK Africa works with students ages 5 to 12 who live in Kibera, collecting data from 64 primary schools. It has found that improved teacher training, parent or guardian involvement, stable and affordable school fees, reliable free lunch programs, good student-to-textbook ratios and after-school and between-term classes all help improve education.

Okoro says the initiative aims to move beyond traditional approaches to educational programs in informal settlements, which mostly focus on scholarships to pay school fees, and instead determine the most cost-effective ways to improve the capacity and structures of informal schools.

“The new research from our partners at MIT will help us fine-tune our programs. We are eagerly awaiting this next phase of the Best Schools Initiative to help students in informal settlements gain more educational opportunities which lead to better academic outcomes,” he added.