Nasaruni Academy for Maasai Girls

Founded by Alice and Moses Sayo in 2013, the Nasaruni Academy for Maasai Girls provides schooling for disadvantaged girls in rural Narok, Kenya. Maasai girls live very constrained lives, contending with the cultural history of parents who educate only sons. Girls thus have little hope for a future beyond the literal and cultural confines of child marriage, early child-bearing, and housekeeping. In fact, barely 5% of girls pursue a high school education.

Denying girls of education denies their right to self-determination. Education—like that provided by Nasaruni and partly funded by Population Connection—is the most direct way to improve the lives of these girls. Nasaruni Academy provides education and the life skills (including self-awareness and self-empowerment), so they can make their own choices about the future.

 

A Nasaruni student shows off her drawing about the water cycle and causes of drought. The lesson can inspire the girls to make good choices that support the environment.

Maasai girls are often married in exchange for livestock. Nasaruni Academy offers an alternative to girls while respecting their culture and giving them a chance to take a positive role in their community.

Education in general is the key to improve girls’ socio-economic status, health, and work opportunities. As girls get a formal high school education, their skills and expertise have been slowly accepted in the community. In other parts of Kenya, the education of Maasai girls has begun the shift toward women’s equality, safety, a voice in their own future, and hope for their families.

At Nasaruni, girls experience the life-changing impact of education. They can dream about—and actively seek—their own futures of new opportunities. They delay early marriage and childbirth, and are independent.

Girls at Nasaruni benefit from a caring, nurturing environment, allowing them a sense of security and hope for the future.

In 2021, Nasaruni added a high school for the girls who were graduating from the primary school. There’s no other school with the nurturing, positive, safe environment where they can thrive. These girls were under great risk for being married off according to their cultural tradition if we did not open a high school where they could continue their education.

Population Connection has recently joined with Nasaruni to help provide scholarships for primary and secondary students; help build out of the new high school; and provide job training for local women. We know that the new partnership with Nasaruni will benefit both the school and the mission of Population Connection. We know that an education allows girls and women to live fulfilling lives, able to have fewer children and be independent.

Nasaruni students take a field trip to Nairobi. Most of the girls had never left their village, and the trip allowed them to see high rises and a big, busy city for the first time ever. They also played tourist, visiting Parliament, the national museum, and an animal orphanage. It was an exciting adventure for girls who rarely, if ever, leave their small rural village.

Meet Alice Sayo, the Co-Founder of Nasaruni Academy

 

Alice Sayo’s remarkable story begins with being the 11th of 12 children from a Maasai family.  As a young girl, her father died, and Alice was bound for an early marriage and bearing children.

But her family wanted her to get an education and live a different life. They sent her to high school in Kenya and university in England. Since then, she’s wanted to provide Maasai girls with the same educational opportunities. She’s been a school principal, community outreach educator, and has sponsored the education of Maasai girls. Nasaruni Academy fulfills her dream of educating and nurturing girls from primary to secondary school.

 

All photos c/o Michelle Cude, Executive Director & Chair of the U.S. Board.