With children in the UK returning to school it is timely to send you an update on the latest news from Kenya and what we have been doing to support our sponsored children during these unprecedented days.
Kenyan schools remain shut until 2021
It is now anticipated that Kenyan schools will re-open in January, at the earliest. The 2020 academic year has been effectively written off, with no examinations at either Primary or Secondary schools. Colleges may start to re-open on a phased basis in the coming months. Therefore, Karibuni has provided funds to enable projects to distribute monthly food parcels until the year end.
At Kibra, where we are the only funder, we have also agreed to pay 75% of the pay of teachers and other staff who are on furlough. In several other projects we pay fees for our sponsored children and are not responsible for staff pay. It came to our notice that in some such schools there are insufficient funds to pay furloughed staff anything – and there is no State support. We have therefore decided to include these staff in our monthly food parcels scheme. That initiative has been very well received and is helping to engender staff loyalty to the projects which will be of benefit when schools eventually re-open.
Community based learning initiative
To engage children while schools are closed the Kenyan Government has launched a community based learning programme. The Government intends that this will be rolled out to all children, whether they currently attend Government or private schools, in communities where suitable venues which enable social distancing can be found. Teachers will run groups of no more than 20 children with an emphasis on teaching them life skills, rather than academic subjects. We suspect that this is likely to prove much easier to achieve in rural areas than in city slums such as Kibra.
Government guidance encourages distance learning using computers. Our sponsored children come from homes which have no access to the internet, let alone a computer.
Local Project initiatives
In the face of extended school closures, we have encouraged projects to develop their own learning initiatives, within the restrictions laid down by the Government.
One such initiative came from the Embakasi project. Although Embakasi Academy remains closed, there is scope within Government COVID-19 guidelines for small groups of children to receive limited tuition and guidance with homework. The project Board developed a plan involving four teachers who were previously on furlough. Although we do not normally pay teachers at that project (instead we pay fees per child), in this case the initiative benefits our sponsored children and we have provided funding for four teachers’ salaries and internet usage.
Another initiative involves Tharaka where the project leaders were conscious that while local radio stations were broadcasting basic school lessons for children in Nursery and Primary schools, most of our sponsored children could not access those lessons as there are no radios in their homes. The solution they proposed was to provide children with solar powered radios (which could be bought for £12 each). There is no
Children at Tharaka receive their new solar radios
shortage of solar energy in Tharaka! To engage older children the proposal was to create a basic computer laboratory within that part of the new Tharaka Community Resource Centre which has already been constructed (and about which we will tell you more in our next Newsletter), using iPads and a Smart TV.
This imaginative proposal was quickly agreed by the Karibuni Children Trustees and money was provided. The new radios have already been purchased and the children are using them.
What can you do?
We are most grateful to you our supporters for your wonderful response to our appeal earlier in the year and for the ongoing donations we receive, month by month. If you would like to make a contribution towards the costs of our extended support for the children while they are at home, there are a number of options, which are set out below.
With best wishes,
Chair of Trustees