It's time for another update from Kookaburra amidst all the usual turmoil of the education system here in Kenya. We are hearing there is a shortage of around 150,000 trained teachers in Kenya right now. On top of that, more than half failed their teacher training certificates last year. Current teachers are being told they cannot use their holidays to pursue the tertiary qualifications they are also being told are essential for promotion… and there is another threat of a strike. What’s new?
Amidst all of that, the Kookaburra Community School ploughs on bringing hope to children from extremely poor families. In our last report we talked about the students who had competed their studies at Kookaburra and had joined our Graduate Program, sending them to high school. The good news is that they have settled in well and the first term reports we have seen from their schools so far show efforts made and achievements gained.
One of the highlights in any term is when we have visitors to our school and for a few weeks in Term One, we were delighted to welcome Maria Capurso from Adelaide. Students, Staff and Maria had an awesome couple of weeks together and we were delighted by the many creative activities she brought to the school, including producing T-Shirts (see pics).
One of the many struggles we face bringing education in one of the most challenging of locations is the constant struggle for funding. This year, for the first time in 8 years of operating the school we are facing a real battle to keep ourselves afloat. We need your help to keep educating and caring for our children and to keep hosting visitors like Maria, who has changed our lives and had hers changed in return.
You can setup once-off or recurring donations through our GlobalGiving page, or visit our website to learn more about the school programs and how you can sponsor one of our children.
Thank you for reading and for your interest in the lives of our children.
The 2017 school year saw 13 students sit their final primary school exam (KCPE) at the Kookaburra Community school in Bamburi, Kenya. With your support, we have now helped a total of 83 students complete their primary education, and this year we are pleased to be able to offer places on our Graduate Program to 8 of the 2017 graduates. The program matches sponsors with students and schools, in order to complete their secordary education.
We are proud to announce that the top three performers from our school all earned places in one of the best high schools here on the coast, Shimo La Tewa. Our best performer, Livingstone Shoboi, scored 383 marks in his exam, placing him in the top few percent in the country.
Children in Kenya face many difficulties in pursuing education, not least of all the costs involved. Whilst government primary schools are supposed to offer free education, and 2018 marks the first year of "free" secondary education, in reality the schools all find ways to charge "extras" and when you add in the cost of food, board, uniform, texts and exercise books, the amount parents have to pay is still enough to keep an estimated 40% of eligible students away from secondary school.
Those that do manage to complete high school still suffer from poor performance, with around 60% of students who sit their final exams failing to gain a pass mark.
Of the first 13 students who completed our high school graduate program, three are now in tertiary education and four have permanent employment. In an area where youth unemployment levels are higher than 80% you can see that your support for our children is making a real and measurable difference in their lives.
This project report is a submission to GlobalGiving’s 2017 Fail Forward Contest, where organizations are asked to share a story of when they tried something new that didn’t go as planned and how they learned from it. Enjoy!
The Kookaburra Community School was established in 2010. The mission was to rescue a group of students and orphans from a tyrant who was physically and sexually abusing the children, and keeping all the money being sent by volunteers from an international organization, that did nothing to protect the children they were supposed to be serving.
With community support we established a new school and emergency home. We started educating the children, all 144 of them, in an environment of care, nurture and learning. Past volunteers who visited the new school all said the same thing, “It was great to see the children looking so happy.” When it came to enrolment time at the end of each year we gave preference to existing families, reasoning that it was better for the parents to have all their children schooled in the one place. We already knew they were needy families so we considered our enrolment policy sound.
Complaints & Complacency
Over time we heard grumblings from other families in the community who thought we were being unfair not giving their children a chance to join the school. We also noticed that many parents began taking their children’s place in the school for granted. Parental involvement in the child’s education was minimal. Some of the children, especially the female students, told us their parents only sent them to school to take their younger siblings out of the house for the day, to be cared for and fed by us. We cannot successfully shape and change a child’s world without full support from home. Something had to change.
Remember the Mission
We reviewed our mission statement. We wanted to provide free primary education to extremely disadvantaged children and we were certainly doing that. But our mission was also to educate children who had the potential to make a real difference in the longer term. Our enrolment selection criteria needed revisiting to support the mission statement. By keeping enrolments “in-house” we had bred a culture of entitlement without the need for true support, participation, and achievement, from the children and their families. And we were perceived as being unfair by sections of the community.
Bringing competition for places into the enrolment process, by testing and interviewing the children and their families, created a lot more work for us. But we were now seen as representing the whole community, not just a number of privileged families. We made a place in our school something to be earned and valued. We were also recruiting children who proved themselves academically and had the best chance of success in their educational career, and would therefore have the best chance of bringing long term change to their community.