Project #6691

Keeping Kenyan Kids in School!

by Global Roots
Matulani students
Matulani students

Our Chidren's Gardens are working!  We have just received updated and comparative metrics for our original Children's Garden sites in Mtito Andei, Kenya and the results are exciting!  


Kenyan primary schools are governed by the Kenyan Ministry of Education, which issues the Kenyan Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE).  This certificate is awarded to students who have completed eight years of primary education and passed the national KCPE exam.  This exam tests students on their knowledge of all main areas of primary education, including English, Math, Kiswahili, Science, Social Studies and Religious Studies.  The exam is administered during the month of November.  It takes a week to complete and students will sit from 8-4 each day of the exam.  


The exam is scored out of 500 points, but high scores are rare.  In 2016, the most recent exam, the highest score in Kenya was a 436.  Only just over 5000 students scored above 400.  That number is out of more than 900,000 students sitting for the exam.  


According to recent score results, our Matulani kids averaged an impressive score of 272!  The average for boys was 269 and for girls it was 275.  This score puts Matulani students in the position of 4th ranked out of all of the zone's schools.  But what is especially important about this rank is that the three schools which scored better are ALL boarding schools.  Matulani students don't have the advantage of the added contact time in boarding schools.  This means that Matulani is the top ranked public day school in the entire zone!  


What's more, this new data shows that Matulani's scores have been climbing since the launch of our Global Roots Children's Garden.  The student average score in 2012 was 241.  The following year that score was 243.  In 2014 they jumped up to 254 and in 2016 they hit 262.  And we plan to keep that score rising!  


Thank you so much to our donors who continue to support us!  Know that your donations are making a measurable difference in the lives of rural Kenyan children!  

Eating meals from the children
Eating meals from the children's garden!
Working with the rabbit hutch
Working with the rabbit hutch

Our Founder and James!
Our Founder and James!

Our Kenyan School Lunch program continues to be among our most successful programs — and 2016 brought plenty of developments!  

Now in its sixth year, our program has placed greenhouses, vegetable gardens and hen houses in schools around the Matulani school district and seen great results from it. The headmaster of the school district has informed us that regular school attendance is now at an impressive ninety percent!!  To put this into perspective, in the Seattle Public School District, the current goal is to achieve 80% regular attendance during the first 20 days of school.  
Beyond attendance, our Matulani headmaster has informed us that exams scores are up district wide and matriculation rates have increased as well. This is great news for our Matulani children!  

In addition to increased metrics, we have made other developments to improve our program success in 2016.  For example, we have found an excellent way to combat corruption. We have learned, through careful observation and oversight, that when we replace a single oversight entity with a group of invested individuals, we can eliminate corruption and inappropriate spending. To this end, we have discovered that tapping into the collective oversight of the school PTA has led to the transparency we at Global Roots require. These enthusiastic parents work together to make sure that our projects stay corruption free so that their children can continue to benefit.

We have confronted very few schools anywhere in the world that do not have an active PTA. Thanks to the fact that new parents join any given PTA every year (older members matriculate out with their graduating children) it is nearly impossible for corruptive forces to take root. We are careful to remain in close contact with PTA presidents and we always welcome new members with a letter and a phone call from our Nairobi-based manager.
We are now raising funds to erect a second greenhouse at Matulani and expand our rabbit farm and hen house. If we do these things, food production will exceed consumption and the program will move towards self sustainability in 2022.
Meet James. Both of his parents are dying of AIDS and he relies 100% on the support he gets from the amazing teachers and school master (our partners) at Matulani Elementary School. Global Roots provides monthly funding ($700) for Matulani’s school lunch program that includes greenhouse vegetables, an outside kale garden (a small miracle because our giant greenhouse effectively scares away wild elephants!), a 100-strong hen house and two-year old rabbit farm.
The hot lunch served at Matulani is the only nutritious meal James gets every day. Fortunately, a generous Global Giving donor is now providing $10 every weekend for James, his brother and his parents to eat on the weekend.


the children we serve
the children we serve

Greetings Global Giving donors,

Our Children’s Garden at Matulani Elementary School in Mtito Andei has been growing and providing vegetables and chicken eggs for so many years that are now able to show measurable, verifiable metrics.

We have proven that parents who have traditionally kept their children at home will return them to school if their children are given a hot lunch.

There is also a direct correlation between the consumption of a hot lunch at school and improved test scores. Please see the attached results.

It is important to point out that children do not miss class to spend time in this garden or chicken house. Many children help out but only in an after-school context.

We pay a stipends to a full time gardener who does all intensive/heavy gardening and to a security guard who protects the assets when school is not in session.

The following report was submitted by our local partner, JNK, the school master at Matulani Elementary in Mtito Andei.

JNK took great initiative to learn more about greenhouse gardening on his own. He is now training our gardeners to know more about the abatement of greenhouse pests and the important subject of germinating media.

Here is JNK's report for the last quarter.


We the Matulani fraternity, have the pleasure to pass a word of appreciation for your continuous support through the Global Roots.

This term we have seen an improvement in the academic performance. We have also noted great improvement in extracurricular activities. The health of the learners has also greatly improved.


1.Improved performance in all classrooms 

2.Marked reduction in absenteeism.

3.Improved health of the learners

4.Exposure of learners to agriculture 

5.Greenhouse has provided learning resources especially in science.

6.Continuous funding from Global Roots has made our school more child-friendly.

7.Poultry provide eggs to the learners.

8.Many visitors have come to visit the school and inspiring the entire community thus educational officers are encouraging every school in the county to pay a visit and learn a lot from Matulani.

9.Respects to global roots due to the voice heard over transparency and accountability is noted. No corruption is entertained though painful to maintain the standard but God has enabled us to overcome trials and temptations.

10.Learning has improved and I as head teacher I was offered a higher grade by ministry of education due to good work which has attracted field officers.


1.Inadequate text books;- Funds provided by MOEST not enough.

2.Prolonged drought affecting most of the parents who are peasant farmers.

3.Urbanization which has affected some of the pupils.

4.Wild animals conflict especially elephants interfering with the crops.

5.National strike for teachers but now is over though knowledge gap was created.

6.El – Nino rains


1.CK improved by 14 marks. From 370 – 384 position 6 in the zone girls category.

2.CM improved by 2 marks from 365 – 361 fifth position in the zone girls category.

3.MN improved by 4 marks from 321 – 325.

4.MM improved by 14 marks from 300 – 314.

5.MK improved by 54 marks from 262 – 316.

6.MS improved by 35 marks from 265 – 300.

7.PK improved by 36 marks from 287 – 323

(Please see attached PDF for more results)


1.  the school is now child friendly due to provision of basic needs provided by Global Roots.

2. Learning has been enhanced due to a lot of involvement of all parties and good health is realized due to taking balanced diet (hot lunch provided at school) 

3. Improved mean scores is now a talk in the entire zone to everyone who knew the state at Matulani initially.

4. Enrollment is improving as per current number of new comers who are joining all classes and this is due to many facilities and good environment which is friendly to education.

5. Thanks to Global Roots for greater heights we are experiencing towards success. May God bless you as you promote lives of desperate pupils who are facing future with courage. God bless you. 

Best regards 

School Headmaster. JNK

Oversight report from Global Roots in Portland, Oregon

Dear Global Giving Donors.

Corruption is a huge problem in Kenya and any other country where foreign aid represents a major percentage of GNP.

We have implemented a successful anti corruption system that has limited any level of graft inside this program.

This program is managed by a three-tier anti corruption system.

  1. Global Roots management raises funds and transfers them to AK, our Nairobi based transparency manager. AK reports back to GR bookkeeper the amount of funds received.
  2. AK wires funds to Matulani school fund in Mtito Andei. Matulani bookkeeper sends total to GR bookkeeper.
  3. Funds are disbursed for project purposes. Fund disbursement is observed by three different entities and three different reports are sent back to GR bookkeeper. The three entities are 1. the schoolmaster 2. PTA chairperson 3. independent auditor unrelated to Matulani.

Oversight video:

Please watch Schoolmaster JNK talk to the ED of Global Roots three months ago in this short video.

Please find attached photos of our project and the children we support as well as oversight documentation.

Finally, we would like to thank all Global Giving donors for your ongoing support!


our school master
our school master
our hen house
our hen house
outdoor produce as well
outdoor produce as well

new chicks for chicken eggs
new chicks for chicken eggs

We are proud to report that our flagship food program in Kenya at Matulani Elementary School is doing excellent. Our spring gardena nd chicken egg farms continues to help our local team provide a healthy lunch for over 250 children at Matulani Elementary School. Our chicken egg program is being expanded this month by 100 chicks!

We have attached photos of Matulani produce, the chicks that were purchased for our hen house and a letter of thank you from the schoolmaster of Matulani.

The monthly allowance has enabled us to feed the school with the following quantities in a term

  • 2,184 kgs of maize
  • 858 kgs of beans
  • 117 litres of cooking oil 
  • 936 kgs of kales
  • 234 kgs of tomatoes
  • 390 eggs 

Note: corruption is rampant in Mtito Andei (an impoverished truck stop town between Nairobi and Mombasa) so transparency and oversight is constant challenge. Fortunately, we found that a high degree of transparency with a school food program  is possible anywhere in the world with a galvanized PTA. No matter how poor the school, we have learned that there is always a PTA and they want one thing: the best of everything for their son and daughter. 

The following reports were written by Kenyan staff of Global Roots. They are published with little editing.

Matulani- The results here has made parents, teachers and students happy. They have the best marks ever, The best student got 399 marks which was better of compared to the best student in 2013 who got 325 marks. Their mean score is 254.06, this is far above average compared to 2013, they had 242.58. This is an increment of 11%. The first 2 students are likely to join National school and the rest are eligible of joining provincial schools. The parents and teachers believe this is a direct impact that has been brought by the hot lunch that has created more contact hours between learners and teachers. Minimal absenteeism has been another tool that has taken us to this step. Students got good marks in sciences due to provision of demonstration field in some chapters,eg pests identification, weed controls and safe using of chemicals.

Iviani- though our project is still new there but the provision of water has played a part in improvement in the National exams. The best student emerged with 372 marks, in 2013 they had 351 marks. This is due to minimal absenteeism. The provision of piped water has played a big part in Minimizing waterborne diseases.

They've a meanscore of 252 compared to 248 of the previous year.

Matangini- They had a slight improvement in the exams. The distribution of vegetables on the school has boosted the no. Of students in the school. Their best student had 408 marks. Their mean score is 248 compared to 218 of 2013. 

All the hard teachers have hopes of gape toting a higher enrollment due to the interest of hot lunches in these schools.

Appreciation from the community has been noted, I personally thank the Global Roots fraternity for their continuos support and coordination.

Water receipt oversight. Email from AK — GR oversight officer, Kenya

The Matulani headmaster has emailed you a new receipt or payment made for the May water bill.

Earlier last week he explained to me that for the April expenses report the school had emailed us an INVOICE for the water consumption. The colour and numbering sequence for the invoices is different from that of the payment receipts that the water company issues. 

We agreed that he would forward the water invoice for May so that it could back up the water receipt that has appeared questionable. In the end he sent a new receipt that was issued by the water company. As the water consumption reflected is not unusually high given that there are now 100 chicks to watered at the school,  I will give the school the benefit of doubt and assume that the earlier receipt was the result of a lazy clerk at the water company. 

However we have agreed that subsequent accounting documents must be consistent. Receipts for actual payments made and not invoices. 

The school now is well and truly aware that documentation forwarded will be scrutinised closely and they have to ensure it's authenticity. 

I have briefed the headmaster on the funding offer for the chicken project and he has promised to have a proposal ready by this Friday. I have advised him that this is a one time offer and that the proposal should be able to be sustained by the regular monthly allowance the school receives. 



Tracking of spending in Mtito

Due to the monthly practice of reporting on expenses, the two school project management committees at Matulani and Matagini have come to learn what is expected of them in preparing their expense summaries. 

Every month on my informing them that their operational funds have been deposited into their respective bank accounts, the signatories to the account travel to Mtito Andei town in order to withdraw the money. During this trip they can also have the expense receipts and the expense summary report scanned at a cyber café and then forwarded to both of us by email. 

A backup option is to have photocopies of the relevant documents placed in an envelope, addressed to me and sent on the parcel service provided by the bus companies. The cost of an envelope to Nairobi is just slightly over US$ 1.00. I can in turn scan the documents in Nairobi and email them to you.

On those occasions when a GR representative is on an inspection visit from Nairobi, these expenses documents can be physically handed to them.

Now that Iviani is now receiving a stipend, the head teacher will be instructed too on the system.

Ritchie and Matulani have both stated that they consult a qualified agriculturalist to advise them on the necessary inputs for the gardens and I will get his telephone contact so as to counter check on the purchases made, to avoid excesses or the diversion of these supplies.


We are thrilled by our project at Matulani but concerned that the construction of a new railway by a Chinese corporation will disrupt our oldest garden at Matangini and newest irrigation project at Iviani. 

A Global Roots oversight team will visit Matulani next month with the funds necessary to expand the chicken egg program and begin developing a dormitory that will help the school take in stragglers. In this part of Kenya, a straggler is a child whose parents die and he or she is forced to hit the road looking for help. 

The team will also meet with the local construction manager of the Chinese corporation to negotiate relocation funds for our two threatened food projects.


spring garden
spring garden
second shot of 2015 garden
second shot of 2015 garden

new garden at Iviani
new garden at Iviani

Our Children’s Gardens in Mtito Andei are now providing hot lunches to more than 500 children at two schools. A third garden was planted last week by volunteers next to Iviani Elementary School after a tech team from Global Roots brought piped in water for irrigation.

Keeping children in school in this part of Kenya is critical because Mtito Andei is a place where unattended boys are forcibly recruited into gangs and girls are forced into a lifetime of sexual slavery.

According to our local manager “the presence of the Global Roots projects in these schools has been a big blessing to the students and to the community at large. Currently, the classroom performance has improved due to more learning hours and absenteeism is minimal. Students are now taking hot lunch and this leads to better concentration in the classroom. Furthermore, agricultural skills are being acquired by the students thanks to the Global Roots greenhouse and expansion gardens that are accessible to the pupils during their free time. Poultry keeping has become a keen interest to the pupils and many of them are now practicing this at their homes. The vibrance of our gardens have attracted stray children. Parents are willing to take these children in because they can get food for them from the school garden. The enrollment at our schools with gardens is therefore increasing.

New Garden at Iviani Elementary

The “Iviani" garden was planted today. Despite the many challenges — especially with tire punctures (from long defensive spikes from the Acacia tree), the parents showed courage and now they are proud to have a one hectare farm. The produce will go to the school’s lunch program this spring.

The parents at Iviani call 2014 “a year of blessing”. This is the year that Global Roots technicians piped water into school for the first time and GR also financed the construction of standard toilets. One Iviani father thanked our local Kenyan manager for what he called an “eye opener.” The entire Iviani community has been galvanized by infusions of Global Roots funding and interest.” We want to thank Iviani parents for their hard work!

Our advanced garden at Matangini Elementary is ready for its second harvest in the greenhouse. Sukuma wiki will be planted this round. The school committee is fully functional and all Global Roots transparency requirements are being met.

Our most productive local garden and school lunch program is localted at Matulani Elementary and it excels due to the vigilence of the Matulani PTA and the hard work of the school master.

Sukuma wiki is being planted outside our massive greenhouse in an external garden. The large greenhouse structure next to the eternal garden continues to keep elephants at bay. No elephant has gone closer than 50 meters to our greenhouse -- so our external crops are protected.

The Matulani garden is so well maintained and it has been a learning field to the schools around.

Our annual metrics report will be published next month. We have been collecting the data we need to show that children who enjoy a daily meal at schools in any impoverished area will out excel those who don’t.

None of this would be possible without the donations we have received from donors at Global Giving.

We have attached examples of our oversight and transparency work.

Thank you!

tomato distribution
tomato distribution
kale harvesting
kale harvesting
Matulani School Grade Metrics
Matulani School Grade Metrics
Matulani garden transparency requirements
Matulani garden transparency requirements
Global Roots tech team on site
Global Roots tech team on site

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Global Roots

Location: Portland, OR - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Rick Montgomery
Seattle, WA United States

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