4 Components Make Daraja Unlike Any Other Program in the world
1. Student Selection
We strive to build a culture of peace through an intentionally diverse student body. Our criterion is based on three primary factors: financial need, an in-person interview, and the Kenyan national exam score. Every year, we accept 30 new students to study at Daraja Academy. These 30 students gain a new opportunity to transform their dreams into reality through education.
Leadership and confidence-building are core components of girls’ education programs. For Daraja, our curriculum is called W.I.S.H. (Women of Integrity, Strength, and Hope). This imperative weekly empowerment course is designed to cultivate community leaders and self-sufficient agents of change.
3. Community Service
Each Daraja Academy girl commits to 30 hours of community service each year. Daraja girls conduct their community service at local schools, often tutoring younger girls and boys who are struggling academically. Our girls have also held workshops in community centers, churches, and mosques educating others on diverse topics ranging from HIV prevention to sustainable farming techniques.
4. Transition Program
We seek to resolve impending barriers our graduates might face in the real world. Our 5th-year Transition Program is held during the Kenyan gap year between secondary school and university.
The Transition Program is the practical implementation of W.I.S.H. through life skills training, an internship, and continuing community service.
An Intentionally Created “Culture of Peace”
Kenya’s past is one of tribalism. The country is represented by 42 tribes, many that have a history of conflict – some of it violent. Daraja means ‘bridge’ in Swahili, so in an effort to create a community focused on peace and building bridges, Daraja’s administrative team interviews applicants from all regions of the country representing the diversity of the entire nation. Currently, the campus has students representing 32 tribes, three religions and many different languages – mirroring Kenya’s cultural diversity.
Daraja has also developed 4 pillars – statements of value – that guide this work and are a focus of the school at all levels and are discussed in classrooms, while administering discipline and all school meetings.
Daraja’s 4 Pillars
Pillar #1: Be accountable for the role you play at Daraja, neither neglecting it, nor abusing it
Pillar #2: Maintain open communication, speak honestly and listen effectively
Pillar #3: Embrace differences and treat all with dignity and respect.
Pillar #4: Every day, leave it better than you found it
Contributing Factors to Daraja’s Unique Culture
Through a partnership with the University of San Diego, we launched a program utilizing iPad and iTouch devices integrated into classwork to bring Project Based Learning to life.
After School Clubs
Daraja after school clubs give students the opportunity to pursue a variety of skills and interests, including: Peacebuilding; Debate; Grassroots Leadership; Science & Conservation and more.
No Daraja classroom has more than 30 students per teacher, compared to nearly 50 in many Kenyan schools. We pair this with a student/teacher mentor relationship at a 15 to 1 ratio for monthly checkins.
Athletics & Music Competitions
Daraja fields sports teams as well as music and poetry groups that compete at the district, regional and national levels to help build student confidence.