Children all over the world share the same desire to go to school especially when they see their siblings getting up early for school. It is believed that education has the power to shape and transform children’s lives for a better future. In Kenya, the government recognizes education as the primary means of sustainable economic development, social mobility and national cohesion. Although the government wants to ensure that number every child in Kenya gets a chance to write their own future through free education, many scholars are worried of the quality of it as they argue that little has been done with regards to the expansion of infrastructure, provision of additional teachers as well as teaching and learning materials. Vision Africa implemented education programme so as to ensure children from disadvantage backgrounds living in informal settlement and rural areas have the opportunity to compete with their peers and have a chance to thrive and fulfill their potential for a better future.
In a previous survey that we conducted with 240 pupils from Kibera and Ngando, the results showed that in a public primary school, 52% of pupils said that they are in a class of 50 – 70 pupils while 26 % are in a class that has over 70 pupils. The biggest challenges that children in the rural areas and informal settlement face are lack of qualified teachers, overcrowding, lack of stationery and text books as well as extra charges that parents are expected to pay for remedial classes and feeding programme. Through Vision Africa education programme, 502 pupils from early years of learning, primary and secondary schools are directly sponsored through fee payment, provision of feeding programme, school uniforms and other school requirements while 490 students are supported through the after school programme.
The programme has had such a huge impact in the lives of many students since they can be able to complete homework and find quality time to study thus improve their performance. Some of the challenges that children and young people in the slum area go through is better shared by two gentlemen who were the beneficiaries of the KiMMta Afterschool programme and have come back to give their time and services as volunteer teachers. I met Dennis and Chris who are young university students with big dreams.
Denis was raised in the rural area in Western Kenya but came to live with his father in Nairobi Kibera slums after completing his primary education. His was admitted to a day secondary school in Kibera in 2011 hence came to learn about Kibera Mpira Mtaani afterschool library through a classmate. Denis said that before he came to the library, it was very difficult for him to complete his homework due to lack of textbooks as his father could not afford to buy them but also had to perform house chores hence the environment was not conducive for him to have extra time for studies. After he joined KiMMta, his performance began to improve as he got assistance from volunteer teachers who assisted him to understand and tackle difficult subjects. The library also allows students to borrow text books and according to Denis, he was lucky to get school shoes and other stationery for school.
After completing his four years in secondary school, his grades had improved thanks to support he received from the afterschool library thus scored a mean grade of B+ that saw him get a place in the local university. He has now completed his first year at university where he studies Bachelor of Maritime Management and has come home for a long holiday before he goes back in September. At the time we met, Denis is a Volunteer at KiMMTa after school programme teaching the primary school children and assists the high schoolers with revision for exams. He said “I am really grateful for all the support that I received from KiMMTa and I want to serve during this holiday by tutoring younger children who also need encouragement to work hard and improve their performance.”
Denis also had a friend whom he met as he joined secondary school in Kibera. Chris has been living with his maternal grandmother in the village since he was 10 after his parents passed on. He had a tough life while growing up and everything for him was a struggle. After completing his primary education, Chris came to live with a guardian in Kibera slums. He was also admitted in the local secondary school but due to lack of school fees, he would be in and out of school and he was forced to look for work so that he could support himself and the family. Chris ended up being a class behind his friend but this did not deter him from working hard in school. Just like Denis, he joined KiMMTa afterschool library and though he had dropped out of school for some time, Chris would still come to the library to study with his friend so as to keep up with learning as he hoped to go back to school and finish up. His determination paid off and he eventually went back to school and sit for his final exams in 2016. He attributes his good performance to the foundation he received from KiMMTa afterschool programme since he got school uniform, shoes and was also allowed to borrow text books for few days so as to complete class assignments.
Chris has also been volunteering since January as a way of giving back to the community that has been supporting him during his difficult time as a student. He had this to say, “The afterschool programme has done a lot for me in my education and also nurturing my talent in football. I would not have made it this far were it for not their support and encouragement to work hard in school. I will continue to volunteer as a tutor until I join the university in September.” They have promised to mobilize some of their friends to create time to mentor the boys in Kibera during the holidays so that they can enhance their self-esteem and confidence, build healthier relationships and lifestyle choices and also have better attitude towards school which will eventually improve their performance.
The two friends both would want to break that cycle of poverty that has hold a grip in their families and it will only happen once they complete university and start earning. We wish both Denis and Chris all the best as they pursue their careers.
Other news is that we have several students who are attending the afterschool programme and are waiting to sit for their end of primary exams this year. Unfortunately many of their parents cannot afford to take them to high school hence we are assisting them to apply for scholarships with some corporates so that they too can get the opportunity to join high school as they are working hard to achieve their desired goals.
Please contact us if you would like to support our education programme.
Post by Sherry Waweru, Impact Assessment Officer