main focus of The Kimilili Trust in 2009 was nursery education.
The Kenyan Government had given grants to most of the primary schools
in our area for building upkeep. Accordingly the trustees have decided
to spend most of its income this year on a sector of education which
was and is still largely unfunded:- nursery education, or as it
is called in Kenya, early childhood development (ECD).
the area where we work the young children come to nursery classes
speaking Bukussu but in the younger classes of the primary school
they are taught Swahili which is the teaching language. In later
years the children are taught English which in secondary school
becomes the teaching medium for most lessons.
education – ECD – is usually morning only and it is
quite common to see children from about three years old, sometimes
accompanied by older brothers or sisters of five or six years of
age, walking one, two or three kilometres across fields and along
lanes without adult supervision. They stay in class all morning
and are commonly given a lunch of ugali ( a maize based porridge
with the consistency of thick wallpaper paste but sometimes diluted
down to a thickish drink with additional water or milk) before setting
off, usually on their own, for the walk home. The ECD teachers,
whilst under the direction of the primary school headteacher to
which their facility is attached, are not employed by the government
but by the governors of each school and parents pay an amount to
cover their salary and also the cost of the meal.
mixed primary school currently has a nursery facility attached to
the main school building. It is a room about 10 ft by 10 ft and
was probably designed as a store room. In the picture it is at the
end jutting out to the left.The original building was put up by
RC missionaries – as were many primary schools in Kenya –
we think about 80 years ago. Since then it has been owned and managed
by the government but until recentlythere has been no funding for
repairs or extensions. These have been financed by local villagers
on what the government called a “cost sharing” basis.
1 – ECD classroom at Namboani
1a -The new Namboani nursery building financed by the
parents and The Kimilili Trust
In 2009 the government gave grants to primary schools for building
work. That was why we turned to nursery education – which
was and is still largely unfunded. We had already helped the local
community served by Namboani school to build four additional classrooms
for their main primary school and the new ECD building was built
by the same people. This building was unusual in that it was designed
to serve a double purpose, being the first classroom, albeit temporary,
of the new secondary school. When the secondary school proper is
underway the building will become the nursery class.
said to the school that we were looking for a light and airy classroom
with a verandah and windows looking out both ways. We also said
that we would like the eight of the windows to be such that very
young children could see out - quite a change from the old provision
characterised by no real windows at all!
also felt it needed a store room and a teachers’ room (maybe
the same space) and a small kitchen for the preparation of the lunch.
Picture 2: New classroom block at Namboani
staircase at one end shows that the school stands on a slight hill,
actually near the top.
Salvation Army School
school is a mixed primary school originally founded by the Salvation
Army. It was founded more recently than Namboani and when we first
saw it, some five years ago, it had two classes being taught out
in the open. We decided there and then to help the community provide
these two classes with proper accommodation. There were various
issues about the ownership of the land and the purchase of an additional
field but last summer, in 2008, we were able to open thedouble classroom
block that enable all the primary age children to have an indoor
3: Open air class at Nasioya
4: Another open air class at Nasioya
ECD provision at Nasioya was little more than a shelter. The pictures
tell the story. Encouraged by what we had done with the local community,
the parents decided to build a new nursery class but they ran out
of money – this is one of the many poor rural communities
in the farming area around Kimilili - so it was no surprise that
their dreams foundered on the rocks of reality. We decided to help
them complete this and with our assistance they produced the building
shown below which is light, airy and has water harvesting.
is a mixed primary school which was originally a Roman Catholic
foundation. When we first saw this school it was on a very small
narrow strip of land that was just about sufficient for the “wattle
and daub” construction being used for teaching. The reputation
of the school had grown, free primary education had just started
and the school was filled to bursting point. As there was no room
to expand the school was sub-dividing the classrooms. But this made
very small rooms for up to 60 to 100 children.
grants from the government and the local constituency dramatically
improved matters. The school acquired land and new buildings were
erected. The ECD building, though, remained inadequate and the parents
and The Kimilili Trust resolved to build a new classroom. This can
be seen below in the picture labelled 12a
Picture 11: ECD at Sibakala
12: Inside the ECD class at Sibakala
Picture 12a: The new ECD building at Sibakala
(above) shows the earthen floor of the old ECD building. It had
a largish hole about 12 or 15 inches deep. We said that if a two
or three year old child dropped into it – as it easily could
have done if left to its own devices – then it was doubtful
if it could have climbed out unaided or uninjured.
a consequence the children spent most of their day out in the sun
in a space with little or no protection from the weather –
and remember we are within a few miles of the equator.
course Sibakala is only one of many schools in the situation it
is in. Slowly with help we try to work with communities to improve
of the most improved schools in 2008 – as measured by the
area league tables – was Kitayi school and we try to visit
schools that show improvement and encourage them. When we visited
Kitayi we were impressed with the organisation of the school, with
the governors and that the headteacher knew his priorities. Having
shown us around he said that a priority for him was furniture for
the ECD class. This we agreed to provide and we sent him the money
13:- open air ECD class at Sibakala
14: The ECD class at Kitayi
Headteacher asked us how children can learn to form their numbers
and letters using their thigh as a desk.!!
Picture 15: The Nursery at Lurare Baptist School
This is another school in which we are interested.
16: Children on their way to school
Picture 17: Kimilili village centre
2010 and succeeding years The Kimilili Trust will continue working
with schools on water harvesting projects which we are told by headteachers
are reducing cases of typhoid and cholera in the area, possibly
with the desk project (if headteachers wish it) which offers desks
on an annual basis to reward schools that show the most improvement
in the area, and the Daisy Project which helps in a small way to
provide sustenance for poor and orphaned children. As part of the
Daisy Project the Trust started a few years ago a Revolving Chicken
Project in which three chickens are loaned to poor families, with
three hatchlings returned to the committee. Further details of this
can be found elsewhere on the website.
In addition The Trust will undoubtedly continue to respond to unexpected
calls for help as it has done in the past.
past years The Trust has responded to imaginative schemes by innovative
headteachers by supporting the building in one school of a library
and the connection to the main electricity supply for another so
that computer work could be started.
2008 the Trust bought reading books for a girls’ primary school
and also gardening tools both to teach useful skills and to provide
some assistance to the many orphans in that school. In 2010 more
help was given to schools with gardening projects as this equips
the pupils with skills they will need in their future life.
Picture 18: Map of Kenya indicating position of Kimilili