We are delighted to report on our recent activities and progress in our partner primary schools in Kasigau, Kenya:
School construction and development
Our latest whole school redevelopment project, at Ngambenyi Primary, is in its final stages and is on course for completion in time for the start of the last term of the year in September. Although not the largest single project we have ever undertaken, it is without doubt the best and we are very much looking forward to showing off the results of a year of hard work by our project management and building team.
At our other partner schools we have recently completed, are working on or have immediate plans to begin work on the construction of a further seven classrooms. These are all to provide additional capacity to cope with growing enrolments as well as to reduce existing over-crowding and high class numbers.
Our school lunch programme goes from strength to strength and from September we will extend it to our seventh partner school, Ngambenyi, meaning a further 125 children (and now more than 2,500 in total) will benefit from a daily hot lunch. From September we will also begin piloting a breakfast club at one of our partner schools. This will target the most disadvantaged pupils, who very often come to school having not eaten since lunch the day before, and we are working closely with the school to identify these children. We will provide them with a cup of nutritous and fortified porridge.
Educational resources & learning
Since our latest update in April we have started funding a further two teaching positions, meaning we now fund a total of 11 teacher salaries across five of our seven partner schools. We have pledged to start funding a further position later in the year. These extra teachers are needed because of severe government shortfalls and are an absolutely vital tool for improving the quality of education in the schools. Later this year, or next, we hope to fund a teacher development workshop and seminar for teachers across our partner schools as well as others in the region that we do not yet work with.
It is hard to believe that we are already a quarter of the way through 2016 and that the time has come to prepare another project update. However, despite the quick passing of time, we have achieved a great deal on the ground in Kenya over the last three months.
The reconstruction of our seventh partner school at Ngambenyi Primary continues apace and we are now just a couple of months from our expected completion date. Ultimately, the standard of the finished buildings will be the highest of any of our school redevelopments to date, and we are looking forward to opening the new school later in the year. For the majority of pupils, it will be the first time they have had classrooms with a concrete floor and windows!
In the last three months we have also been working on seven new classrooms across our other partner schools, as we seek to accommodate increasing enrolments and further reduce classroom congestion. This includes five additional classrooms at Kisimenyi Primary, our largest partner school with a roll of more than 650 pupils, where we are undertaking a wider second phase of redevelopment which, as well as the classrooms, includes the construction of a new kitchen and staff housing, and the provision of further rainwater harvesting capacity.
This year is the first year since the launch of our school meal programme in September 2013 that all 2,500 pupils will receive a daily lunch. In the last three months alone we have provided food to cater for more than 175,000 meals. We are in discussions with head teachers over the possibility of introducing a breakfast club for the most disadvantaged children, for whom the school lunch is currently their only meal of the day.
We recently spoke to Cecilia, a class 7 pupil and the student President at Kiteghe Primary School, and she had the following to say about how the programme has changed her life and that of her fellow pupils.
"When we didn’t have lunch at school many children were going home far away. I live quite a distance from school so going home and back made me tired. Other pupils couldn’t get back to school easily. There were less children here for lessons [in the afternoon].
Parents couldn’t afford to bring maize and beans as many parents here don’t have very good quality of work. It has really helped having lunch at school. The lunch now really helps the parents and the children. We take our lunch in one hour. If you finish early you can revise. It gives us more time to study and the lower classes can play.”
Our partner schools still face a chronic shortage of teachers and learning resources, and we continue to do whatever we feasibly can to address these shortfalls. In March we began funding the salary of our ninth teacher, a number which we anticipate will continue to rise over the course of the year as more new classrooms are completed. We have also just released funds for the purchase of some 2,000 new textbooks, taking the total number we have supplied over the last few years to beyond 10,000.
All of the above work is only made possible thanks to donors such as yourself and we are very grateful for your support. We hope you will be encouraged by our progress and may consider donating again in the future.
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