Anothr hand pump repaired

Newsletter March 2020

The above photo shows another hand pump repaired by the charity. Eric and his team have now repaired around 1000 pumps since 2017.

We have said in many newsletters that we are aiming for Osiligi Obaya primary school to be one of the best schools in Kenya. At the end of this year, you can judge whether these are just empty words. We now have our full complement of classrooms and this year will be our first exam class, when the oldest children sit their national KCPE exams which define what type of secondary school the children can attend. So in late October, the school will close, everybody except the head teacher must leave the school site and an outside exam invigilator will sit in during the 3 days of exams. These extreme measures are to prevent cheating, rife in Kenyan schools. After the cheating was stopped and schools were unable to buy early copies of the exam papers, some private schools previously at the top of the league tables suddenly plummeted.

Here is Samuel, a class 8 student talking about the exam year. (You may want to turn on subtitles, bottom right on the screen)

As you can hear, all the class 8 children are boarding at the school. This is normal in most Kenyan schools to give the children the best possible chance of a good mark.

Our daughter, son – in- law and 2 grandchildren both visited so we were able to see the school and Kenya through their eyes. Our daughter and son-in law are both teachers working in Hong Kong so they shared Hong Kong life with our pupils including using chop sticks and chinese writing.

White children are a novelty in Olepolos and at the school so the 2 grandchildren had celebrity status. Their hair was constantly being touched, their skin felt and the younger pupils wanted to sniff their skin.

Meeting a white child for the first time.

The youngest class PP1 were introduced to scissors and glue. It is hard for us to imagine the amazement and rapture handling this new tool and sticking bits of paper brought. Older pupils wanted in on the action. They are so used to copying the teacher, some were literally terrified to create freely and sat waiting for instruction. We expected cynicism from a 14 year old but he had a great time – a welcome break from exam revision. Many impressed us by cutting precise animals without a sketch.

Using scissors and glue

There has been an exciting development in our PP1 and PP2 classes where children are now learning through play. This is a big change from their usual more formal learning. Activities include playdough (Africa friendly recipe) water play, drawing and colouring, dinosaurs, jigsaws, homemade tent, shop, lego, construction toolbox, doctor’s set, plastic fruit etc. A large suitcase of dressing up clothes is also heading to Osiligi in March.

It has been a great success. Teachers Catherine and Sylvia are impressed with the children’s imagination, creativity, co-operation and improved communication skills – all key components of the new competence based curriculum. The pupils are particularly impressed with the water, the playdough and the homemade tent.

Lego – a great success with all classes but too tempting for many children. We spotted some children hiding lego pieces in their jumpers. The security guard had already been put on lego alert and asked to frisk children as they left school.

Teachers using corporal punishment on children is common in Kenya but is banned at Osiligi school. Unfortunately, some of the teachers had forgotten this rule so we have put in place various measures to re-educate the teachers and remind children of their rights. We also had a meeting with the parents to reassure them that there will be no beatings at the school and to ask for their support to achieve this.

A meeting with the parents to discuss corporal punishment.

One minute a seat can be used by children, the next by chickens (see photo below). The deputy head teacher, Rispa, is telling the girls how to wash their underwear. The advice given is to dry them somewhere the father cannot see them, outside so that the sun can sterilise them but covered with netting so they don’t look like underwear.

We need more sponsors right now to support children of all ages at school. More details on sponsorship here .

You are welcome to leave comments below.

Helen and Roger March 2020.

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25 thoughts on “Newsletter March 2020”

  1. That’s an amazing report, Roger. You must feel so proud of what has been achieved. I was stunned by what I saw. It really brings to life what it means to be a sponsor. Thank you so much.

  2. Thank you for another informative report Roger. It is fantastic to be part of this great project and we feel so proud of the progress that Christine has made at the school. We know how import education is and take it for granted, so it is fantastic to see the real benefit it is giving the children.

  3. What wonderful work you are doing. Good to hear the younger children are beginning to learn through play and also good that corporal punishment isn’t used.
    Your year 8 students work really hard. Hope they all do well in their exams, they deserve to with that dedication. A very inspiring newsletter.

    1. Thanks Sue. The Kenyan Government has recently changed their stance on secondary education. In the past, few children carried onto secondary school but now the Government is tying to get all children into secondary. The primary exam results governs what type of secondary they can attend.

  4. What a wonderful job you are doing. I hope that the children do well in their exams and all go to secondary school, an educated population is so good for a country. I hope that beating will stop happening, children respond more positively to the carrot. But you know that.
    Best wishes to you all.

    1. As you say Jennifer, children respond much better to encouragement. Margaret is travelling to Kenya shortly to re-teach her positive behaviour management instruction for the teachers. Unfortunately, all the teachers were trained with the stick so it is difficult for them to learn new tricks.

  5. As a (very “ex”!) teacher of children and adults with special needs, I am enormously impressed with everything that is happening in the school. At nearly 82, I have no chance of visiting (as I used to do at special needs schools many years ago in Poland) but your photographs, descriptions and videos give a clear and very inspiring idea.
    Please give my sincere congratulations and good wishes to all your staff and pupils.

    1. Thanks Gill. Special needs teaching is very much needed in Kenya. Unfortunately, most schools tend to have a one brush fits all approach.

  6. It is wonderful to have the privilege of being a very small part of this amazing venture. Thanks to the teachers and all who are making this school become a force for the future. Good luck to all the young people who are working hard.

    1. Thanks Roger. Every part helps in this long journey. It’s the young who will help to improve their area.

  7. Thank you Roger for a most interesting and inspiring newsletter, as ever. Positive news that Kenya is aspiring to educate to a higher level which ultimately will lead to a more advanced economy. I look forward to knowing how many year 8 pupils move into secondary education and how transport and other hurdles (fees?) are overcome. The children are so eager to learn and appreciate the opportunity to do so in your wonderful school. All credit to you and Helen in your achievements!

    1. Hi Elaine. A new secondary day school has just been built a few miles from Osiligi Primary. This will cater for children with the lowest marks and in theory, it is free. In practice, the children will have to buy their desk and chair, books, pay for electricity and water and for extra tuition so probably around £50-£80 per term. Children with higher marks will go to better schools but these will all be boarding (the norm in Kenya).

  8. All good wishes for the exam results. The interview was really interesting and showed the need for schools like yours. Your family must be really delighted to be able to have seen what you’ve achieved. So glad you made it before travel became restricted and pray that the virus stays away from Osiligi.

  9. Wonderful work! I love the way you are sensitively introducing new idea s, un doing certain conditioning s is a work we can all do as humanity is evolving.
    Thank you so much for caring about the girls in particular. So happy for that.
    I hope the non academic children can also find their place and self esteem/empowerment. All skills should be seen in the whole picture I believe and celebrated together.
    Thank you for your vision, tenacity, hope and care.

    1. Thanks Karen. Unfortunately, non academic skills have little value in Kenya. We hope to buy for the school a sewing machine and a few hand tools later this year so that the children can learn some non-academic skills.

  10. Thank you for such a great report Roger, it really gives us a good picture of what is happening at Osiligi. We are so pleased that there is more learning through play for the younger children. We wish the Year 8 pupils all the best in their exams, if Samuel is anything to go by they should do well. Will it be possible for us to support the pupils who have to buy their desk and chair at secondary school in the future?
    Many thanks for all the time you give and the amazing work that you do for the village.

    1. Thanks for all your support Sally & Chris. Concerning the children going to secondary schools, Helen will be writing to all of the exam class sponsors later this year.

  11. Thank you, Roger, for another full and interesting update on work and learning at Olepolos. So good to see and hear the interview with Samuel prior to Class 8 exams and to know that the younger ones are now enjoying their learning through play. Thank you for your ongoing commitment to this valuable work. Best wishes to you, Helen and the team.

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