UK Registered Charity No. 1108996
What We Do - Primary School
Education, Education,Education has, perhaps, become one of the most over used 'development' mantras of all time. Like most good slogans it really is true that education has the capacity to change children's lives more than any other activity. Our Primary School exists to make sure that the pupils receive a first class education and are fully equipped to fulfil God's purpose in their lives.
This year we have 180 pupils in our primary school. All but 15 of them are 'day scholars' (children who live in the community and attend our school each day.) Some of the children walk a long way each morning to come to school. Before they start their lessons all of the pupils are given a breakfast of 'porridge' to make sure they will be able to concentrate on their lessons. The pupils also receive a free lunch. (There really is such a thing as a free lunch.)
Kosele is a very poor community and malnutrition is common. Our school feeding program ensures that the most vulnerable children in the community receive at least two good meals in a day. Malnutrition affects children's health and development in a number of ways. Apart from the obvious symptoms, (hunger, bloated tummies) malnourished children can fail to thrive in their capacity to learn, causing serious disadvantages as they grow older. All of the children in our Primary School have a healthy diet of the right things - good food, dedicated teachers and loving care.
Building children's capacity to succeed
Education has long been acknowledged as a universal human right. The second United Nations Millennium Development Goal is to Achieve Universal Primary Education. Hope and Kindness is working hard to improve access to good quality primary education for orphaned and vulnerable children in Kosele. Thanks to the big-hearted generosity of our friends and sponsors we now have eight purpose built primary classrooms for our pupils. This gives them the space to learn in and allows their teachers to teach effectively.
Our Primary School has grown considerably since we first started working in Kosele. Even though we have six times more pupils now than we did in 2003 there is still a large number of children in our community who need our help. We are constantly receiving requests for a 'chance' in our school from grandparents, widowed mothers and in some cases children themselves. These requests are handled by Millie, our Social Worker, who also does her best to sort out any problems that the children have.
Malaria is a constant threat to the children's health, especially in the rainy season when there are many mosquitoes about. Some days Millie is rushed off her feet with cases of malaria and her office area looks more like a sick bay than an office. The cost of malaria treatment is not high but is beyond many of the members of our community. We keep up a good stock of malaria tablets to make sure that the school children do not suffer unnecessarily and do not miss too much school because of this life threatening sickness.
We believe that providing a safe place for the children to learn will help them to flourish and will equip them for the next steps in their lives. The next step that we provide for the children is a place in our secondary school, where they will be encouraged to further develop their gifts and talents and map out the path they have ahead of them.
Meet the teachers
Over the years we have worked with a good number of teachers in our primary school. Our current staff is made up of a mixture of experienced and newly qualified teachers. Our head teacher, Josephine Ajiwa, has progressed through the Hope and Kindness training initiative and is giving strong leadership and encouragement to both teachers and pupils. We have a well established program of continuing professional development in our school. We have been encouraged by the positive steps that the teachers have taken with us to make sure the pupils in our primary school receive a first class education and have happy memories of their first school.
Educating the "girl child"
It is widely acknowledged that the education of girls is of paramount importance in any society. The reality of life for girls and women all over the world is that they are still treated as second class citizens. They are least likely to complete primary education. Girls and women suffer from threats to their physical safety and well-being in addition to the lack of opportunities and injustice that they experience. Around Kosele life is very tough for the 'girl child'. Rape and abuse are common. Hope and Kindness is strongly committed to providing places in Primary School for girls, making sure that they are well supported and following up any problems. We are determined to ensure the success of our girls!.
Catching them early
Governments across the world now recognise the importance of a child's first years. In the UK, education in nursery and reception classes has, quite appropriately, been renamed the Foundation Stage. An inadequate diet and frequent bouts of malaria mean that many of the children who come to our school have begun their lives on very 'shaky' foundations with both their physical and mental development being negatively impacted by malnutrition and anaemia. If that didn't make life tough enough, they then have to come to school and learn two languages completely different to the Dhluo they speak at home - the Kenyan school curriculum is examined in English and the national language is Kiswahili! Our Early Childhood Development program shores up the foundations!
Learning should be fun
It is undoubtedly true that children (of all ages!) learn best when they are enjoying themselves. Like many Western Countries the Kenyan education system has a strong focus on exam performance and syllabus coverage. 'Chalk and talk' and 'rote learning' are the preferred routes to success in such systems. We are doing our best to ensure exam success and enjoyable teaching and learning. We do not believe in simply drilling an exam performance out of our pupils. We would like them to be prepared for academic success and for life. We realise that we are, like many schools worldwide, pursuing the 'holy grail' of education. It is probably our biggest challenge but we will not be defeated.
How You Could Help Us to Help the Children
One of the biggest complaints about life in Western countries is that people are resource rich and time poor. We have the opposite problem in our school. The teachers and pupils are willing to work very hard for long periods of time.
Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors, donors and well-wishers we have many good resources for learning. We still urgently need: Reading books in English and Kiswahili for all of our classes, a bigger budget for creative arts and music, a solar powered computer room.
We would also welcome volunteers to come and work with us.