QEES wants to support counties and contribute to achieving a fulfilled education and learning environment through safe and effective transit. Focusing around 4 Focus Areas as follows:
- Creating physical improvements to school commute in neighborhoods where children of low income parents cannot afford make it more comfortable, and more convenient.
- Deterring unsafe traffic behaviors and encouraging safe habits by people driving in children to school in neighborhoods and along school routes.
- Assessing which approaches are more or less successful, ensuring that programs and initiatives are supporting equitable outcomes, and identifying unintended consequences or opportunities to improve the effectiveness of each approach.
- Ensuring that QEES initiatives are benefiting all demographic groups, with particular attention to ensuring safe, healthy, and fair outcomes for low-income students, students of all genders, students with disabilities, and others.
Within this programming framework the main concern in dealing with child transport as an integral part of the 4 focus points is reflected in targets set for improved developmental readiness of all children for a successful and on-time start to school, especially for marginalized children.
Investing: What do we know?
Nearly all the primary schools in the country are day schools. Learners have to commute to school using ‘matatus’, buses, bicycles and motorbikes, many of them walk to schools. There are multiple cases where the learners have been involved in accidents as pedestrians or passengers. Some culminating in fatalities due to negligence, ignorance or sheer irresponsibility in observing basic road usage rules.
The government has set guidelines on transport education stipulated in their Safety Standards manual for Kenyan schools, but is it really doing enough or we can do more?
70% of parents in public schools cannot afford transport fees leave alone basic needs that is why they have no other option than let their children walk to school or find the most convenient means of transport which in most cases is not child friendly.
What about the children with special needs from needy homes? Studies in several developing countries point to links between participation in early childhood programs, primary school enrollment and better results over at least three to four years, particularly for disadvantaged children but these kind of children in most cases are left home because they require a lot of care and attention that most of their parents cannot afford.
It is important to recognize that there are large growing disparities between children in private and public schools. With a few notable exceptions, children from poorer and rural households, those socially ignored have significantly less access to quality education than those from richer and urban households. The children most likely to benefit from QEES transport program--those most vulnerable to malnutrition, special needs and preventable diseases.
Here’s what research tells us about perceived acceptable walking distances to school. One study in Belgium found that the walkable distance to school varied based on age: For children aged 11 to 12, 1.5 kilometers (~.9 miles) was a walkable distance. For teenagers around 17 or 18 years old, the walkable distance was 2.0 kilometers. Another study in the United Kingdom similarly found that walkable distances varies across age groups and increases with age. For ten year olds, roughly 1.4 kilometers (~.9 miles) is a walkable distance. For 11-year olds that distance increases to about 1.6 kilometers (~1 mile). For 14-year olds, it is about 3 kilometers (~1.9 miles). Meanwhile, a study in Ireland found that 2.4 kilometers (~1.5 miles) was considered an appropriate walking distance to school for teenagers between 15 and 17 years old.
But quantifying distance is not enough to tell us how far is too far for children to walk to school. Sometimes places may seem far even though they are not actually that far away. We all have probably walked down, or at least can picture walking down, a street where there isn’t much going on besides a lot of fast-moving car traffic. A five-minute walk can feel like a five-hour walk if there’s nothing interesting to look at, if no one else is walking, and if the noise and fumes from passing cars just makes it unpleasant. Majority of the children come from very unsafe neighborhoods; picture a child walking home from school over 10km assuming the child left school at 1600hrs it will probably take that child give or take 2.5hrs to get home by the time they are home its nearly dark. Such children are susceptible to rape, child violence or even child kidnapping.
Investment in QEES transport program yields very high social and educational returns offsetting disadvantage and inequality especially for children from poor families. Although research is limited, especially in developing countries, outcome in investing in the program are positive, and indeed generally higher than those to other education intervention
In the long run QEES transport program will encourage children from extremely disadvantaged homes to access quality education away from their informal settlements without the worry of how to get there or even worrying about how far it is.
The first budget allocation will be to conduct our proof of concept to potential partners in-order to convince them that there is a need and that QEES transport program provides the promising solution.