Student efforts pay off with impressive KCPE results
Gatoto students and teachers are on a roll and have impressive results from the recent national test to show for it. The all-important KCPE (Kenya Certificate of Primary Education) test of 13-14 year olds followed last year’s grueling, COVID-shortened calendar. Despite this, Gatoto’s average student score jumped an impressive +13 points! 120 of Gatoto’s students took the three-day test. Girls did slightly better than the boys and 65 of Gatoto students scored well enough to qualify for secondary school admission; securing funding for the needed scholarships for secondary school, however, is an on-going challenge.
Introducing Gatoto’s Highest Scorers
Gatoto’s two top scorers achieved marks more often associated with elite schools! This is a remarkable accomplishment for an informal settlement-based community school with plenty of challenges and few resources beyond its dedicated teachers and a supportive community. We are so impressed, we want to introduce you to them!
Stay tuned for our next update! We will certainly have more news about the big impact from inflation already being widely felt, especially for food prices and its impact on our food program at Gatoto Primary School.
Gatoto has closed for Easter holidays. When it reopens to a new school year in late April, there will be a difference: the rising 6th grade students will become the first grade to be educated under Kenya’s new nationwide Competency Based Curriculum.
The “CBC” is generating great excitement for giving teachers more flexibility and freeing them from teaching to a test. That’s quite a change for Kenyan schools and students whose success historically was dependent only on performance in a narrow and high-stakes test in the 4th and 8th grades. The new curriculum puts more value on “competency” - combining the development of skills and knowledge with practice to apply what is learned to real life situations.
Gatoto’s Gideon Ndambuki calls it "an improvement,” but points out “for every lesson, there is an update.” Much work will go into syllabus implementation, teacher training, and the many specific requirements for teaching the “practicals.”
Gatoto’s biggest challenge is that this improved education comes with a hefty price. Once again, the school’s status as a Community School in an unincorporated settlement means the continued absence of any government support. So the government requirement for coursebooks and many supplementary teaching materials is an unfunded mandate. Books can last many years and are often shared by multiple students, but the cost will amount to more than $20,000 - a really difficult additional expense in an already financially strapped year. Any help with donations to holistically educate our Gatoto kids would be greatly welcomed and appreciated!
Please join us this Saturday afternoon, 3:00-4:00 p.m. ET (12:00-1:00 p.m. PT) for the dedication of Gatoto Primary School’s spacious and modern new classroom building - funded by our AFG community. This building significantly improves the educational experience of so many children, and we can’t wait to celebrate what we have built together.
Saturday’s Zoom event will include a look at the new building, and a dedication to Betty Nyagoha, Gatoto’s beloved founder and longtime head. Speakers in Kenya and here will celebrate Betty’s vision for the school, and discuss the current situation and future possibilities for Gatoto and the G.I.D.P program in Mukuru kwa Ruben.
Saturday, December 4th, 3:00–4:00 ET., 12:00–1:00 PT.
Meeting ID: 823 0198 3542
Dial by your location:
+1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC)
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
+1 646 558 8656 US (New York)
+1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
The fundraiser is open to all who are interested in Gatoto so please share with others we may not have contacts for. With Covid restrictions and without Betty’s energy and fundraising experience, 2021 has been a tough funding year for Gatoto. We need to find additional support. We hope that Gatoto’s budget gap can be matched by the stronger American economy, and our increased national generosity for people in need. Please tell friends or foundations about our terrific school that feeds, educates and nurtures 1,000 children who have few other options.
See you soon!
Yassi Tamdji + AFG Team
Giving Tuesday is an opportunity for people around the world to come together to thank others, show kindness, and share what they have with those in need.
This year, Gatoto aims to raise funds for our food program and to provide furniture and materials for our newly dedicated classroom building. Gatoto's food program for next year is unfunded and is essential for getting students to the school and access to all the other opportunities that the environment provides. The food program provides two hot meals a day to every student - something not always readily available in Mukuru kwa Reuben. The meals give a higher level of nutrition, stability and comfort to students.
Gatoto's new building has transformed the school experience for upper school students who were previously educated in tin shacks. It alleviates overcrowding, and makes the summer heat less hot, and winter less cold. Having more space for students to learn promotes less noise, more concentration, and better opportunities to absorb class material. Unfortunately, the dilapidated and inadequate bench furniture is still being used, and we need to find money to replace it.
This Giving Tuesday, we don't plan to stop once the clock strikes midnight. Instead, we want it to be the starting point for Giving December, with the option for people to contribute to our goal beyond November 30th. So, throughout the whole month of December, any donations to our fundraiser, “Building Futures for Betty’s Legacy”, will go towards our goals of helping provide support for Gatoto's food program and new furniture.
More than ever, the students of Gatoto are in need of your support. Follow this link to give a donation starting today and throughout December! Also, we warmly invite you to a Zoom building dedication on December 4 in honor of our late founder, Betty Nyagoha. More information found at that link.
We thank you in advance for your generosity in this season and we hope to see you virtually at the dedication.
Thank you so much for your continued support of AFG’s crucial work in feeding and educating the children of Mukuru kwa Rueben!
Following Betty’s passing, Gatoto’s new leadership and management team swung into high gear.
Gatoto’s 1,000 students, and its teachers and staff are moving rapidly towards the end of the fall term with exams and report cards around the corner. The promising news is that mass vaccinations are starting to reach Nairobi’s informal settlements; more than half of Gatoto’s 27 teachers have obtained vaccines.
Anticipating a fourth wave of COVID-19, the Kenyan government is again enforcing restrictions which challenge teachers to figure out masking, classroom distancing, and limits on extra-curricular activities with resources stretched thin. Despite this, a sense of normalcy has begun to set in. Student government elections were held to choose new student leaders who will represent student voices to school leadership. This is an inspiring exercise in the practice of civics and democracy even amongst Gatoto’s youngest learners. Moreover, the school’s flagship extracurricular activities - their impressive and prize-winning choir and elocution teams - have been able to train outdoors but will compete only virtually in this year’s competitions. Additionally, the extra space provided by the new classroom building, even though still under-furnished, is a godsend for the state requirements for smaller class sizes.
Sadly, COVID-19 remains a considerable obstacle for the greater community because of its impact on the economy. Continued stagnation in the informal economies means parents are still out of jobs. Thanks to your help in funding our work, AFG can provide hot meals that the school gives to all children starting at age 2. The feeding program and other social supports to this community continues to be an essential lifeline for struggling families.
With continued gratitude,
Yassi and the AFG Team
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