Kenya: Investing in Education

Students of Thomas Fish Secondary School during class in the newly constructed laboratory. Photo: ©2012 Susan Anyangu-Amu/World Vision

Students of Thomas Fish Secondary School during class in the newly constructed laboratory.
Photo: ©2012 Susan Anyangu-Amu/World Vision

This month our country of focus is Kenya, where World Vision’s Strong Women, Strong World initiative is coming alongside communities to raise awareness of children’s rights, create environments that protect children, and build and strengthen the capacity of local organizations that respond to abuse so children suffering harm are supported. World Vision is increasing children’s access to an education—opening doors of opportunity for them, and providing an alternative to FGM, early marriage, and child labor. The following story was contributed by Susan Anyangu Amu, World Vision.

World Vision’s intervention in education in Mashuru is transforming the lives of children. Kakini Tatek, a registered child at Thomas Fish Secondary School, recounts how World Vision’s support has transformed her school, giving hope to the students that they can excel academically. World Vision also empowers school management committees to better manage their children’s schools for better results.

“When I joined Thomas Fish Secondary School in 2009, the institution did not have textbooks. We used one book among a group of students and in some subjects only the teacher would have a text book,” says 17-year-old Kakini Tatek.

Textbooks are an essential part of learning because they provide students with an opportunity to refer and revise what has been taught in class. Now, imagine a scenario where the students can only rely on the teacher’s notes. In a country such as Kenya which places great importance on examinations as a determinant of one’s future, the lack of textbooks, almost becomes a verdict of doom for those who have no access.

“It was difficult for us when we did not have access to textbooks, we could not revise for exams or refer for clarity after a lesson. All we had were the teachers’ notes and this was especially difficult if one was not in class or did not understand what had been taught,” Kakini says.

When Kakini joined Thomas Fish Secondary School in 2009, the institution had a serious shortage of essential learning materials including actual buildings to accommodate the students. In fact, the institution had no laboratory.

“When I joined this school there was no laboratory. We had never set foot in a laboratory and in preparation for our practical examination, we relied on the simulation that was done by the teacher at the front of the congested classroom which was hardly visible for all the students,” Kakini recounts.

For the 2011 Grade 12 class, the first time they set foot in a laboratory and got to do actual experiments was during their final examinations last year. This scenario almost became a reality for Kakini but she is happy now that as she prepares for her final exams later this year, she has a chance to do actual experiments in preparation for her final practical.

“The lack of facilities in our school was nerve wrecking for me, but now I have hope because of the improvements that have been made and the learning materials that have provided courtesy of World Vision. Now my chances of doing well and proceeding to university are better. I want to be an accountant and hope this will one day be a reality,” says Kakini whose favourite subject is mathematics.

Kakini has been a World Vision registered child since she was seven years old.

The institutions’ principal, Mr. Stephen Lekasi, has great regard for World Vision because of the support they have provided to schools in the area.

“What World Vision has done for Thomas Fish Secondary cannot be adequately captured in words….it is simply beyond description,” Lekasi says.

He says World Vision supplied text books to the school for all the classes enough to keep them going for the next five years.

“The majority of the students in this school come from very humble backgrounds and if it were not for the support from World Vision, a good number of the students would have dropped out for lack of school fees,” he says.

World Vision’s support in the area has been instrumental to ensure that students from poor backgrounds who qualify to join secondary school get a chance through provision of bursaries.

“Previously retention of girls in the school was a challenge due to cultural practices in this area including female genital mutilation and early marriages. World Vision has been instrumental working with partners to rescue girls and empower them on the importance of remaining in school. In the past, a minimum of 10 girls would drop out of school every year but last year we only had one girl drop out,” says Mr. Peter Muteti the school’s deputy principal.

Muteti says through community empowerment, residents of Mashuru now understand the value of education.

“Community organisation groups are already thinking about the future of their people with regards to education. They are organising fundraisers to source for money to pay school fees for needy students,” Muteti explains.

According to Lekasi, World Vision has also been instrumental in training school management committees in the area; something that has been beneficial because the management committees now understand that they have a say in how the schools are run.

Nicholas Gitobu, the integrated development facilitator at World Vision’s office in Mashuru, says the engagement with school management committees has had a great impact in how institutions are run.

“The committees now understand how to manage schools towards attaining good results. We have a system where we reward the management committees of schools that are doing well. This has fostered healthy competition towards good results,” Gitobu says.

He adds that, “Parents now understand they are part and parcel of the school management and need to ensure teachers report to school on time. And they (parents) need to release their children to go to school. They also understand their role in school development and sourcing for funds towards this.”

Gitobu says, this has had remarkable impact on the children who can now access education and remain in school.

“The environment is conducive for them to study,” he says.

And to ensure they sustain the good results, school management committees have moved into resource mobilisation to develop their schools.

“The Sultan Hamud Primary School management committee, prepared a proposal to the Constituency Development Fund and East African Portland Company and was successful. The funds were used to build classrooms in the school,” Gitobu says.

The committees are also now instrumental in ensuring the schools have enough teachers. Some committees have employed teachers through funds from the Parents Teachers Association.

The committees are also becoming savvy in financial management – something they hope will reduce misuse of public and parents’ funds. The committees are now able to better monitor how funds are being utilised.

At Thomas Fish Secondary School, parents are paying development fees to go towards construction of more classrooms.

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