How does EPAfrica find partner schools?

On Thursday the 28th of July, Taru, the project manager in Kisii, took me to my first school visit to St Peter’s Keberesi Secondary School. This was my first school selection visit – I was very excited to learn more about the local secondary education and the process through which EPAfrica selects its partner schools.

We left the town centre early in the morning, travelling first to Mogunga, from where we took another matatu to Kenyenya. The walk from Kenyenya to the school was roughly three kilometres.

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In Kisii town centre, on the way to the matatu stand

The journey was an experience in itself. In the first matatu we coincidentally sat next to one of the history teachers from St. Peter’s Nyakemincha Secondary School (a partner school of EPAfrica currently on its second year of investment). The ride went fast as we chatted about our common friends. Impressed and pleased with the contributions of our project workers in Nyakemincha, he told us he had recently recommended a school in his hometown to apply to our programme.

What the matatu from Mogunga lacked in familiar faces it made up in atmosphere – at least to an extent. We were struck by the bright rug cover on the ceiling of the matatu, and watched intrigued as women entering the vehicle covered their heads with scarves. However, once the vehicle got moving, the mystery faded as we got covered in dust falling from the carpet.

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Matatu from Mogunga to Kenyenya

The final stage of our journey was a chilled walk up to the school from Kenyenya. A few small children ceased to cry at the shock of the sight of us strolling these rural roads. After only a few missed turns, we arrived to the school. Under a large tree and the gaze of a few supervising teachers, a group of students sat on school desks focused on an internal exam paper. We received a warm welcome from the head teacher, who escorted us to his office where two members of the school’s board of management were waiting – together with two goldfish swimming in a fish tank in the corner of the room.

This was the school’s secondary visit – i.e. (often) the last visit before the decision whether or not to form a partnership with the school – and as such there was a lot of information to be collected. Sitting in the head teacher’s office, we went through the school’s enrolment numbers, the primary school results of incoming students and the results of graduated students from the last few years. Comparing the last two revealed the significant improvement in the academic performance of the students throughout their secondary education. The head teacher said that this was largely due to the hard work of the teachers. To thank them for their efforts, he had recently taken the teaching staff on a trip to Kisumu.

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With the teachers

After getting the numbers down, we took a tour of the school facilities, on route talking to many of the teachers and the students. Amidst requests for photos and selfies, the students told us about their future ambitions to become lawyers, doctors, head teachers, nurses, journalists, pilots…

We finished the visit by sipping sweet, milky tea with the head teacher and members of the board of management, discussing how the concept of development varies across different cultures.


Student carrying a desk and a chair back to the classroom after the internal exam

Both Taru and I were convinced that this would be an excellent school for future project workers. Despite lacking in water, electricity in several classrooms, equipment and gas in the laboratory etc., the mean grade of the graduating students had steadily increased over the past years – a tell-tale sign of committed and competent management and teaching staff. The school also excelled in its extracurricular activities (one of the girls was competing in athletics internationally!) and a
joyful atmosphere marked the entire school. With this is mind, we embarked on the journey back to Kisii, talking about how this school and EPAfrica might be able to benefit from a partnership, how Project Worker investment could be utalised and how this compared to the other schools we have visited over the course of this summer. I am excited to see how this will develop.

Could you be a Project Worker in a school like this?

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