Teacher Marylene stands at the front of the classroom, chalk in hand. She turns back and forth between blackboard and students, explaining the intricacies of Kiswahili grammar to a room of Form 3 students. Just a few years earlier, Marylene sat in the same classroom, as she herself used to be a Daraja student. “Sometimes it’s weird because I’m a teacher with other teachers who used to be my teachers,” she says. “But, in the staff room, they treat me as one of their colleagues.”
Since the pioneer class graduated from Daraja in 2012, a total of 151 students have completed their secondary education and transition program at Daraja. Over 80% of all Daraja alumni qualified for tertiary education, with that number rising to over 95% in recent graduating classes.
It has been over five years since the pioneer class graduated, and many Daraja alumni are now also college and university alumni. Ten years ago, these were girls who didn’t think they’d even have the chance to attend secondary school. Today, they’re educated women, reaching goals that were, for too long, distant dreams.
As a school, one of Daraja Academy’s distant dreams is also coming to fruition, with Daraja alumni now coming back to campus as members of staff. Five Daraja alumni currently work at Darajain a wide variety of positions.
Marylene Wangari teaches Kiswahili and History, and Jecinta Kakweri teaches English and Christian Religious Education (CRE). Fatuma Ibrahim is the manager of the Daraja New Vision Store, while Leila Ali is the fundraising and partnerships assistant. Most recently, Fatuma Abdi has joined the Daraja team as the assistant volunteer and guest coordinator.
The achievements of these alumni are already inspiring current students in their education. Veronica, one of the students in Marylene’s Kiswahili class, wrote about her in the student newspaper. “We have a teacher right now who is a graduate from Daraja,” she wrote. “She is earning her money because she worked hard in Daraja, and after university she was qualified to be a teacher in Daraja.”
Veronica also hopes to become a teacher after graduating from Daraja. Which subjects does she want to teach? History and Kiswahili, just like Teacher Marylene.