Partner: George Odaa
The Ebenezer Primary School is creating access to quality education in Tamu, Kenya and generating a self-sustaining model for tuition and long-term growth.
In rural Kenya, children do not often have access to quality education. Those who do have access to education often attend schools that are run down and do not provide what is needed for students to qualify to attend secondary schools. This leads to children growing up uneducated or illiterate. While primary school enrollment in Kenya is comparable to western nations, such as the United States, secondary enrollment plummets to around 50%. This creates an environment in which adults do not have access to sustainable jobs. Joblessness is a catalyzing factor contributing to many issues found in villages in rural Kenya including alcoholism, domestic abuse, prostitution, and child abandonment. The village of Tamu is no stranger to these afflictions.
THE PROBLEM AND THE SOLUTION
The village of Tamu currently has two schools: a government-run primary school and a privately-run primary school. Our partner in this region oversees the private school. Neither school is adequately preparing children to move on to the next level of education.
The current school our partner is running had fallen into disrepair. The building had become unmanageable and the curriculum was out of date. There were also not enough teachers for the number of students they had in attendance.
Like many rural Kenyan schools, these issues can be traced back to their origin. The school was built in response to much celebration from the village, but there wasn’t a long-term plan for success put into place.
The solution is to revive the school with a long-term impact in mind. This entails updating several features of the school so it appeals to families of all demographics. In order for the school to be self-sustaining, the tuition fees factor in frequent upgrades to the facilities and curriculum and employing high-quality teachers. Families without the means to pay for tuition are able to apply for a scholarship.
The updated curriculum focuses on preparing students for the next level of education. It sets them on a path towards job opportunities as adults, but with a built-in pride for their home village.
Mzee Joseph Aranga’s children used to attend a public school. Because of the severe overcrowding of the classrooms and poor quality of teachers, Mzee Joseph decided to pull his children from public school. He knew affording the private school fees would be nearly impossible on his manual laborer income. Even so, he moved his children to a private school to give them a chance at a more quality education and a better life.
Mzee Joseph has 12 children. Ten of them were not able to receive a secondary education because the public school did not prepare them well enough. He has only Belinda (15 years old) and Rolex (9 years old) remaining who he is hopeful will be able to attend secondary education.
Phase one included revitalizing the school’s facilities and curriculum and hiring new teachers to improve standards and keep up with the growing population of students.
A community leadership council was formed to get buy-in from local leaders on the new school project. These leaders contribute to the school financially, and their support conveys the value of the school to the parents.
The second phase will include the introduction of a boarding aspect to the school. Most high-reputation schools in Kenya are boarding schools. The boarding facilities will improve Ebenezer Academy’s reputation throughout the region and increase enrollment of students from higher-income families in nearby villages.
The long-term impact of Ebenezer Academy is for families in Tamu, Kenya to finally have access to sustainable, quality education. The school will be the pride of their community, rather than a source of shame.
A family in Tamu with a steady income will no longer need to send their children outside of the community for a high-quality education. Instead, it will be available to them in their own hometown. This will increase the chances of these children staying nearby for work after their education, putting an end to the brain drain of this generation.
Like Mzee Joseph, families now have options on where their children will attend school. The ability to apply for a scholarship allows children with various backgrounds to obtain a quality education. As the school produces positive change in the community, the public schools will begin to raise their standards as well.