Margaret, a teacher in Nairobi, is the fifth participant in our 10-week #TeacherTuesday campaign. She works in Kibera, one of the largest slums in Africa, helping children find an escape route from poverty through their education.
Margaret was born in a village in a poor area outside Kenya’s capital city. “I know what it means to be sleeping hungry,” she said. Now, she wakes daily at 4am to make the two-hour journey to Kibera, most of whose residents lack access to basic services, including electricity and running water. She teaches until 6pm or 7pm, staying late to let children do their homework at school because they don’t have any electricity or space at home.
“There is a line between rich and poor,” Margaret says, explaining the challenges of her daily work. “A child whose parents are working means the child is fed, they are literate, and the parents are able to follow up on their child’s education and learning. Whereas the parents at the school where I teach believe the government should give everything for the child’s education and they don’t need to do anything extra.”
The majority of parents in the Kibera slum, she tells us, “did not go to school or if they did they did not have a very good education. They don’t see the value of education so they don’t follow up. Some children stay at home and are sick. They are used to the hard life”.
The latest EFA Global Monitoring Report, Teaching and Learning: Achieving quality for all shows that how much a child learns is strongly influenced by the inherited disadvantage that comes with poverty and extreme inequality.
In all 20 sub-Saharan African countries analysed in the Report, children from richer households are more likely not only to complete school, but also to achieve a minimum level of learning once there. In 15 of these countries, no more than one in five poor children reach the last grade and learn the basics.