After a long journey we arrived in Kisumu for the first in-country stage of training and orientation. This involved, amongst many other things, discussion about important aspects of Kenyan culture and history, a Kiswahili lesson and a recap on how to keep safe and healthy in Kenya. The group then split into two, travelling by matatu to our two sites the next morning. Once settled into the central house, PWs grouped into “families” headed by a coordinator and set off to familiarise themselves with the town. By the time we finished off with some final site-specific training and presentations on individual schools, PW’s were well prepared and excited to meet their head teachers at the conference the next day.From 9am, the Head Teachers from the ten Kakamega partner schools arrived at The Golden Inn. Each PW pair greeted their Head, attempted some Kiswahili, provoked some amused reactions (‘Amanda? But that sounds like the name for a man!’) and then set about bonding over chai and mandazi.
The Head Teachers of 2nd Year Schools recounted their previous experiences with KEP, and 1st Year Schools expressed their hopes for improvement with this year’s investment. Many who had received investment last year had encouraging stories of significantly improved average grade scores, and sustained success with schemes devised by last year’s pairs.We then split into groups to discuss issues like fee collection, the Kenyan policy for free secondary education (‘FSE’), sources of non-government funding, and debt management; all of these subjects impinge significantly on the way in which the Head Teachers run their schools, and the kind of education Kenyan students receive.
We heard some interesting schemes for meeting costs and generating income by alternative means and discussed the New Basic Education Bill which the government had published that day as a supplement in The Daily Nation.
After a lunch of rice, ugali, cabbage and chicken, we discussed opportunities for post-secondary education. The Heads explained that Careers Days, like those organised by previous KEP volunteers, made great impressions on students and helped them direct their enthusiasm for PSE more constructively.
At the end of the conference, and after several group photographs, PW pairs travelled back with their Head Teachers to their villages, schools, and homes for the next two months.
Keep checking our blog as we’ll be updating you regularly `about all the exciting things our volunteers and partner schools are doing throughout the summer.
Matt Purtill, Kate Kibbler & Emma Brown