SIGN UP for our newsletter


There are many vulnerable children and youths in the country- estimated at over 2.5 million orphans. 46% of Kenyan populations live below poverty line therefore rendering about 8 million children below poverty line and many more youths in same situation.  Challenges faced by children and youth in Kenya include HIV/AIDS, poverty, drug abuse, unemployment, displacement due to community tensions and a few natural disasters, abandonment by parents and general family breakup. A huge number of community people are offering their service to children and youth either through volunteerism or formal employment. Due to limited resources and high number of available community persons, the bigger percentage of persons offering these services have not received any formal training on care and protection of children. Most of those trained in child and youth programming are normally placed in middle and senior management agencies levels, leaving the day-to-day contact with children and youth with those who have not been well trained or have no training at all.   It is this gap where dedicated basic training  needs to focus. 

The idea of Kenya hosting the Open Distance Learning Certificate Programme “Community based work with children and youth” is a dream come true. Discussions begun way back in 2007during the Master Trainer Development Program –A REPSSI program for building organizational capacity to provide Psycho Social Support. At this time, mastertrainers engaged REPSSI Training and Knowledge Development Department to think of a program that will give community workers working with children some basic academic qualifications to enable them serve vulnerable children and youth better in addition to going higher up the ladder of professional growth. Though Kenya was left out in the initial piloting phase in 2008 due to the 2007 post-election crisis, finally the program is here. The dream has finally come true.The piloting phase begun in July 2010. Kenya has eight administrative provinces and we had hoped to have a student’s center in every province but due to some logistical issues, one province was not picked. Kenya has  8 learning centers; One per province with Nairobi having two learning centers .Every province has its unique challenges facing children and it was therefore  felt that the program  would  greatly benefit Kenyan children from all the cultural contexts by covering all the provinces.The pilot phase targeted 115 students but finally kicked off with 112 students. The students are community based people working with children at different capacities. They include volunteers, Government staff and people working in CBOS, FBOS and other civil societies.  There are a few of them working in children institutions. The selection criteria for the students were well stipulated and there were a huge number of applicants who showed interest in undertaking this course. The selection process was therefore competitive which saw the selection of very qualified students as per stipulated criteria.


Students in a group DiscussionStudent_session_1

The ODL program has been designed to fit within the existing structures in the country.UNICEF Kenya office and Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Development (MoGCSD)are the focal agents of the program. Their responsibility is to ensure that the uptake of the program in the country is effective and encompassing stake holders working with children. They are also working towards mainstreaming the program within the Kenyan learning system. MS Catherine Kimotho of UNICEF who is a Child specialist for orphans and vulnerable children and MR. Noah Sanganyi, a Senior Assistance Director of the Department of Children Services in the MoGCSD and also the chairperson of a Training Committee in the Department of Children services are the people spearheading the process. Hopeworldwide Kenya (HWWK)is hosting the program in the pilot phase and is providing the technical guidance and administrative duties of the program. Mr. Kennedy Muriuki of HWWK is the Mentor supervisor providing support and guidance to the Mentors in the different regions. The following are the Mentors for the different regions coming from different agencies.







Faith Kamau

Hope worldwide Kenya




Faith Wanjiru





Flora Nyaga





Grace Mugambi





Cosmos Mutua


Rift valley-Nakuru



Irene Thuku





Wycliffe omondi

Child Fund




Hadi Sheikh mohamed


North Eastern-Garrisa



The Mentors have a wealth of experiences in working with children and communities. Their facilitation skills have made students contact group session effective. The mentors are from the government Department of Children Services and others from organizations working with children who are also partners of REPSSI.The student’sgroup sessions are held on Fridays and Saturdays depending on the agreement with the students. The mentor organizations are very supportiveto the program and the mentors have found a lot of support from their immediate supervisors.

Mentors were taken through an orientation and training of 3 days before starting the program. The program has picked very well in all the centers.


Participants in Mentor TrainingStudent_Session.jpeg


Couriering student’s assignments and other documents have been very effective.  The Kenya team has identified different delivery modes appropriate to each region. All assignments so far are able to reach the Mentor supervisor by Monday morning of the following week after the group sessions on Saturday. Our first disbursement of student’s assignment to UKZN was on time and we did not face any hitches.


The process of mainstreaming the program within the national education system has already been initiated. Mr. Sanganyi has briefed the Secretary of Children Affairs and the Director of Department of Children Services on the program and this agenda has now been taken up to the ministerial level and presented to the ministerial training committee where Mr. Sanganyi is a member. Discussions are on progress to see how the program can be incorporated in one of the government training institute after the pilot phase.

Factors  working  positively in favor of expansion and nationalization of this program in Kenya

  1. There is a strong and committed partnership between the Government,UNICEF and the civil society in the implementation of the program. All the parties involved in this program have shown a degree of commitment and are eager to see its success and also capture the opportunities it offers.
  2. The program has been included in the MoGCSD and Department of Children Services annual work plan and performance appraisal system where selected staffs are expected to ensure results for the program are achieved. This makes it a very important deliverable for the officers involved as it forms part of their performance appraisal. It is anticipated that the MoGCSD will lobby for budget allocation for this program come next financial year that starts in July 2011.
  3. The ODL program has also been reflected in joint UNICEF and Government annual work plan for the period 2010-2013. This ensures it gets support from all sectors and nationalization process becomes more viable.

The Kenyan vision for this program is to see it offered at Diploma and Degree levels so as to effectively and professionally equip people to work with children .Plans are under way to negotiate with one of the public universities for the up taking of the program at a higher levelwhile a government training institution will offer the program at certificate level.