Dr. Utheri Kanayo
Co-Founder & Ceo, Children In Freedom
Bold Idea: Launch the Children in Freedom Academy, a new school in Nakuru, Kenya based on the philosophy of Ubuntu. The curriculum will focus on African history and culture, support students to respect and draw strength from their heritage and identity, and equip students to innovate and lead social change in their home communities.
Path to Metis: Dr Kiragu-Kanayo is a social entrepreneur committed to the use of education as a tool for liberation. She began her career by obtaining a Masters in Education from the University of Nairobi and moved to the UK to obtain an MPhil and PhD in education from the University of Cambridge. She was a Research Associate at the Centre for Commonwealth Education, where she led education research projects at 22 schools in Kenya, and was a Programme Manager Research for Camfed International, where she managed education research initiatives in Ghana, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.
Dr Kiragu-Kanayo realized she could have a greater impact in Kenya than in the UK, and in 2014, relocated back to Kenya to co-found Children in Freedom, a non-profit that provides scholarships, mentorship, and leadership development to students from primary to university levels in Kenya. The organization also supports teachers to use gender-responsive pedagogy and communities to end the practice of FGM. Dr Kiragu-Kanayo is also the Regional Co-ordinator of the Beacon Equity Trust, which supports children to be visionary and ethical leaders.
Her work has received funding from organizations including the Ford Foundation and USAID, and she has consulted widely with organizations such as Girl Effect and the Population Council. She has published widely, and her research interests include pre-colonial education and African history, citizenship education, teacher preparation, HIV and sexuality education, and local philanthropy. She plans to launch a new school that builds on lessons learned from her work to build a new model for education in the Kenyan context, with a curriculum that focuses on citizenship and African history.
More About Dr. Kiragu-Kanayo: