The Kenyan education system follows an 8-4-4 pattern. That means eight years in primary school, four years at high school and 4 years at University. Kenya has only recently, (2003), begun to get near the goal of universal primary education. For a large number of Kenya’s young people their education is the 8 system – i.e. they just about mange to finish primary school. The National Council for Children’s Services in Kenya says that at least 40 percent of Kenyan children who completed their primary education did not proceed to high school. Of those who do many end up having to leave because they cannot keep up with the fees which are charged.
Part of our vision for Hope and Kindness is making sure that the children who come to our primary school manage to get at least the 8-4 or 3 part of their education – especially the girls. Plans for the Agriculture College curriculum are still coming together. I’m inclined more to a three-year course after primary school in the Agriculture College leading to five International GCSEs hence the 8-4 or 3 model.
The biggest challenges for us are making the children’s curriculum more relevant in primary school and helping the teachers to develop more interactive teaching methods. Our team of teachers is relatively young, and certainly not set in their ways. They know that things have to change in the future and recognise the problems in the Kenyan education system. (To be fair to them so does the Kenya Education department). We had an interesting discussion at lunchtime about staffing ratios in some Kenyan schools. Our top class size will be 30 pupils but some of our teachers have experience of teaching 60+ in a single class. I’ve seen this at work in some of the local primary schools and it is Dickensian. With this many children in a class the easiest method of teaching is chalk, talk and rote learning – it’s a question of crowd control.
So today I got down to some serious desk tidying, room tidying, metal box, (where I keep all my valuables), tidying and laptop tidying as part of my inspired thinking process. I don’t like to think about the psychology behind this too much, but it works for me. Next week is half term for our school, giving the teachers a bit if a break, (apart from our Standard 8 teacher who will be doing revision lessons for the week – the real KCPE exam is now only two weeks away). It gives me an opportunity to put some flesh on the bones of our ‘big picture’ plans.
Our class 3 pupils were a great help to my efforts at learning Kiswahili today. The office is right next to their classroom and they were going through the names of different relatives in Kiswahili. I recognised them from the book I’m using so I quite enjoyed the lesson. I’m not sure what they’d think about be joining their class but I wouldn’t be the oldest adult to learn in primary school in Kenya. In 2003, education in public schools became free and universal in Kenya. On learning that primary education had once again become free in Kenya, Kimani Maruge, a Kenyan illiterate farmer and the world's oldest person to enrol in primary school, joined Kapkenduiywo primary school in Eldoret at the age of 84. He was elected head boy at the age of 86 in 2005.
Duncan managed to buy the chemicals today so we are going after the stalk borers tomorrow!