Much of it was spent at Oaklands Primary School, which we’ve only been supporting since 2016. It was my first trip there and it was quite an experience. The school sits on a coffee plantation – the land was given to the Government by the owners of the plantation to build a school, which teaches children of the people who work there. The school is surrounded by acres and acres of well-tended coffee plants, punctuated occasionally by small groups of tiny houses in which these families live.
All of this has had an impact on the children at the school in the past few years too, with absence rates being very high and the performance of the kids attending being below average. Thankfully, the work Kipawa is doing here is making a big difference.
I met with the headteacher Joseph this morning who couldn’t have given more praise for what our donors have achieved here. His clear view is that the food programme (we are doing breakfast porridge and lunch for all the kids at Oaklands) has delivered “a drastic change in performance: for example, there is no absenteeism any more. Two years ago, there were sometimes up to 100 absentees every day, but now it is more likely a handful. And that’s because there is food available”. He also thinks that the KCPE performance will improve this year – from an average of 215 to 250 – and that is because the children are better able to concentrate. Our social workers there – Mary and Moses – agree. They’ve noticed a change in behaviour since the feeding programmes started; kids are no longer lethargic and sleepy but energetic and motivated all day.
We are making improvements to the facilities too. I saw the final stages of the new girls toilet block today, with a solid watertight building in place with proper latrines and a very deep pit. This is not only safer and healthier (for disease prevention) but more dignified too. What was also interesting is that the Government had started building a new boys toilet block earlier this year: but it remains uncompleted on the site, with no reason given for its current state.
The kids range in age from 14 through 17, with the oldest five of them due to sit their KCSE exams (the Kenyan Certificate of Secondary Education) throughout October and November. Like teenagers anywhere, they were shy at first but were soon chatting away: They were keen to find out about where I live in Scotland, about education in the UK, and the girls in particular were amazed to hear our Prime Minsiter and First Mininster are both female.
I have few more trips planned for tomorrow, including going back to Mukuyu School to hand out some new books, footballs, toys and other things. These were purchased today using money donated in a recent appeal. You can still donate to the appeal here: