WUSC: Overcoming Barriers to Refugee Girls’ Education in Kenya

Our partnership with WUSC analyses the social norms and beliefs underpinning barriers to girl's education

WUSC: Overcoming Barriers to Refugee Girls’ Education in Kenya

AVF is collaborating with the World University Service of Canada (WUSC) on the second phase of the Kenyan Equity in Education Project (KEEP) in the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps in Northern Kenya. This pilot project uses community mobilisation, interactive radio shows and SMS audience participation to generate evidence on how to overcome social norms that present barriers to girls attending school.

The World University Service of Canada (WUSC) supports and empowers marginalised girls in refugee camps and host communities in Northern Kenya to pursue their education. In the initial KEEP project, WUSC ran multimedia campaigns through local radio broadcasts and film screens, which were designed to address barriers to and generate support for female education.

While these campaigns successfully bolstered the belief in the importance of educating girls, WUSC identified a discrepancy between changing positive attitudes towards female education and those persistent behavioural practices that practically hampered girls from attending school.Researches went on to identify the primary barriers that kept girls out of school, such as uneven distribution of domestic chore burdens and expectations of early marriage.


In 2018, AVF is collaborating with WUSC to pilot the use of innovative social and data science methods to uncover social norms and underlying beliefs that hinder behaviour change within the community.

We are encouraging community discussion and engagement around the topic of girl’s education to help us identify the social norms and beliefs underpinning the barriers to girls attending school. We will identify which of these norms are negotiable and how they can be used as entry points to inclusive conversations that can collectively shift beliefs and behaviours to enable marginalised girls to pursue their education.

Using robust research methodology, we are designing vignettes and qualitative questions to frame our interactive radio shows. We will then analyse the data from SMS engagement from the audience to deliver timely and actionable insights, which will be used to adapt KEEP II and campaign messaging to relevant, contextually-sensitive and impactful topics.

This project is currently being implemented, but check back here soon for updates on the progress and outcomes of KEEP II.

PROJECT TEAM: Deborah Sambu (Researcher), Sandra Zerbo (Project Operations Manager), Moses Maina (Media Engagement Officer), Fatima Dahir (Research Officer) and Rita Zagoni (Data and Technology Lead) and Sharath Srinivasan (Director)

Photo credit: People share firsthand about daily life in Kakuma Refugee Camp. TOM ALBINSON