UK Registered Charity No. 1108996
What We Do - Secondary School
In Kenya young people follow the 8-4-4 education system. This involves spending 8 years in primary school, 4 years in secondary school and 4 years in University. We started our Secondary School in January 2012. We enrolled 13 students in Form 1 and employed two teachers. When we first started our work in Kenya most of our children were on the first rung of the education ladder in the reception class. We have been able to add to the number of children we provide for every year since first starting our work so creating a Secondary School was a logical step for us.
Creating the Secondary School was one of our biggest steps of faith. Starting a new school with only 13 students was a relatively easy first step but every subsequent year has significantly added to our costs. New classrooms have been needed and we have had to employ more teachers. Despite these challenges we are now (2014) moving confidently forward. We have students in Forms 1, 2 and 3 and will have students sitting for their KCSE (Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education) examination in November 2015.
In Kenya there are many challenges for young people and their families regarding secondary education. Studies have shown that Kenyan parents prefer investing in a firstborn child in order to obtain income returns to education as soon as possible. Subsequent research suggests that boys are more likely than girls to benefit from the expenditure of household financial resources on their education. Girls with many younger siblings are less likely to go to school than their male counterparts, and, even if they do, there is a greater chance that they will drop out before completing Form 4. This suggests that girls are expected to look after their younger siblings while their parents or guardians go to work. Many girls fail to complete their secondary education because of pregnancy. The odds are stacked against students living in poverty generally and girls in those circumstances in particular. If they did not attend our Secondary School very few of our students would be able to go to secondary school at all. We are both their last chance and their best hope.
Building our students' capacity to succeed
Our Secondary School has a very forward looking approach to the KCSE syllabus. We believe that our students need to be prepared for life beyond secondary school in a number of ways - not just through achieving exam success. In the first two years all students are expected to learn agricultural skills and are taught the value of enterprise. Our Form 1 students work in small groups to cultivate a small Farming God's Way' plot. The contribution that all of our students make to the success of our farm is a vital part of the Hope and Kindness 'economy'.
Despite significant improvements in mobile communications fast, reliable Internet access is not yet a viable option for our school. We have developed an in-house solution to this problem by creating a computer resource which gives students access to many videos, e-textbooks, revision guides and other essential study tools. The Khan Academy has made it possible to save many of it's excellent teaching videos on a school computer, giving the students a great independent learning tool. We would not suggest that computers will ever replace teachers but we are very excited about the e-learning system that we are developing.
We have every confidence that our Secondary School willl provide both an excellent education and a solid foundation to help our students to fulfil God's purpose in their lives.
Meet the teachers
Working in a very rural location, it isn't always easy to recruit teachers and other professional staff. Our team of secondary teachers have a big job ahead of them. The outlook for employment in Kenya is no different from the rest of the world - it is a very challenging situation. We have, fortunately, been able to employ graduates to teach our young people. We are currently working hard together to develop challenging courses for our students which incorporate proven, modern teaching methods. No more 'chalk and talk'.
We have recently built two vocational training classrooms to help our students develop practical skills. All of our Form 1 and 2 pupils have craft lessons each week. We currently provide training in carpentry and tailoring. These are 'traditional' offerings, in that it is common for young people to pursue this kind of training. Our carpenter Joseph (yes really) currently has two apprentices. They will learn a full range of carpentry skills from him and should be capable of being self-employed once trained. We hope to expand our range of courses to include electrical training, especially installing and servicing solar power systems.
The 'self-sufficient schools' movement has been gathering a head of steam recently. Organisations like Teach a Man to Fish have been setting the pace in encouraging schools like ours to think how they can use the resources they have to generate income. Our farm gives us the capacity to achieve both educational goals and sustainability goals. Watching the new students reach the 'eureka' moment, when they see the benefits of our approach to farming, is always a great boost for us. At the moment we do not have enough land to generate all of the income that we need to run the school. If we could double the amount of land we have (giving us 5 acres altogether) we would be in a much stronger position.
Facing the future
Kenya's plans for 2030 are very ambitious, just like our students. There is a buzz in international finance circles at the moment about Africa's potential. Although youth unemployment remains very high we believe that there is a 'promised land' of opportunity for our youngsters and that they really do have a realistic cause for hope in their future. We are planning to play our part in investing in this bright future by creating an ICT resource for teaching and learning in schools like ours. We have encouraged the students to believe that they are a 'Joshua Generation' capable of making a huge difference in their families, communities and country. Like Kenya's Vision 2030 our dream is very ambitious. We are working very hard together to make the dream a reality.
How You Could Help Us to Help the Students
To give our students access to the first class facilities and resources that they need to excel, we need to turn one of our classrooms into a fully resourced science lab. We have the capability to set up a computer room with tailor made resources and a working prototype of the e-Learning platform that we plan to roll out. A relatively small investment (£15,000 or $25,000) would allow us to achieve both of these goals. We would also benefit hugely from having a bigger budget for reading books, textbooks and teaching staff. You could donate online using the PayPal button.
We would also welcome volunteers to come and work with us.