This week the EPAfrica blog returns to Kakamega, where our Project Workers have been attempting to improve the quality of secondary education in their schools for five weeks. In each of our seven schools in the region Project Workers have been getting to know the problems that the school faces, and have begun investing time and money into programmes to alleviate these challenges. This week the EPAfrica blog will focus on the developments of just one EPAfrica school, Ematsuli Secondary in Emuhaya District.Ematsuli Secondary was formed in 2005 and had to rely on the support of the local community in its infancy. At this early stage the school had to go as far as borrowing tables from the adjacent village so that students could perform lab experiments. Despite these challenges with resources, the school has continued to grow under able and enthusiastic management. While the school now has sufficient tables for students, it still faces many challenges and lacks a large number of resources that would be considered indispensable in schools back in the UK.
Before this summer Ematsuli’s classrooms were not lighted by mains electricity. Students who arrived to school before dawn used to read by candle or torch light. However, thanks to a BFSS grant donated to EPAfrica earlier this year, Ematsuli has been able to wire its classrooms and install lighting. Now more students arrive before school, some as early as 5am, to read ahead of class. Ematsuli, like so many of the schools that we visit, has students who have an insatiable appetite for learning, which is only curtailed by the limitations of the school’s facilities. The lighting of classrooms will allow them to spend even longer at school, which can only be a great thing for academic performance.
As well as electrification, EPAfrica Project Workers Brenda, Ella and Luke have been investing the money they fundraised in equally essential resources. The school is now the proud owner of a photocopier, a machine that is far more easy and efficient than the manual duplicating machine used in the past. What used to require hours of manual turning of handles and ink spills can now be done automatically at the press of a button. The photocopier has been a hit with the adjacent primary school too, who are able to use the secondary’s photocopier at a lower price than the local internet cafe.Tuesday also saw the arrival of over £500 of much-needed textbooks, which took the school to a ratio of one textbook between two students in compulsory subjects – a proud achievement for a school of Ematsuli’s age and size. Investment in resources has also extended to the lab, where extra burettes and clamps mean that students are now able to perform experiments more frequently ahead of their exams which test them in practical skills. The school also received its first ever microscope, while a new electronic balance allows for easy experiment preparation. Previously the school’s lab technician had to use weighing balances to estimate the mass of chemicals.
With the summer only half way through, there is still more progress to be made at Ematsuli, as well as the other six EPAfrica partner schools in Kakamega. While resources are just one ingredient to a successful school, the enthusiasm of the staff and management towards EPAfrica’s investments this summer is extremely promising for the future. Now EPAfrica investment has provided some of the basic supplies for learning, Patrick, the school’s principal, has been impressing on the students that “now they must work hard”. If the school continues to work hard it will be extremely exciting to see EPAfrica’s impact on the school and its students!