Karibu! Welcome!

Since 2004, EWB@ MSU's professional and student volunteers have worked with community members in Khwisero, Kenya to provide water and sanitation infrastructure at the district's 58 primary schools, making it easier for Khwisero's children to avoid waterborne disease and get an education.

In that time, the group has grown from a small club to one of MSU's premier student organizations, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund seven borehole wells, six composting latrines and a biogas latrine that serve thousands of community members.

Thank you for joining us as we continue to work hand-in-hand with local partners to make a difference in one small part of our world. As Western Kenya's limited internet access allows, we will update this blog while in-country with the successes, stories and lessons provided by our work.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Education in Khwisero: Making the Most of Scarce Resources

Above: EWBers and company partake in a football match at one of Khwisero's Primary Schools.

Thomas Wells

Greetings once again from Khwisero!

Since I (an education major) arrived in Kenya a few weeks ago, I have been surprised again and again by the resourcefulness of the school system and the educators present within it.

In 2003, the Kenyan government made public primary education free—since then, millions upon millions of students have shown up for primary school, many of them as old as 17 or 18.

Rather than rejecting students, schools have opened their arms wide to accept as many students as possible. The result is that every student has the opportunity to receive education in Math, Science, Religion, English and Kiswahili.

Unfortunately, the schools often do not have the resources to meet the needs of their student population. Malaha Primary School, in the Mumias district, for example, has 681 students in the school with only 13 teachers to teach them. That’s around 52 students per teacher.

As a result, most teachers must lecture rather than hold open discussions like we are more familiar with in the US. Further complicating matters, Malaha doesn’t have enough classrooms to support the student population: it has few sanitation facilities and water is a lengthy distance from the school. Needless to say, that’s a LOT of problems to be facing as a school administrator.

And while these conditions (I believe) are echoed throughout Khwisero and Kenya, many of the teachers I have met manage to educate students quite well (according to test scores, at least). Some teachers go above and beyond the call of duty, teaching groups of students on Saturdays to ensure as much retention as possible.

Head Teachers like Samson Kaka of Mwisena Primary and Harriton Mwakha of Emwaniro Primary work very hard to improve the lives and educations of their students on a daily basis. Both schools have benefited from a EWB well, and both headmasters taken full advantage of the opportunity, setting up a system of fees and maintenance for the wells so that they can continuously work. Both are always looking for ways to improve their schools through new technologies and feverish grant writing. [Editor’s note, a new block of classroom’s at Emwaniro was recently funded by OPEC]

Being such an outsider to the school system, it’s very difficult to get a good view, but from what I’ve seen, my perspective on education has been vastly changed.

1 comment:

Fredrick said...
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