The schools in Lamu aren’t as well-developed as schools here. These first grade classrooms don’t have desks. They also have a ratio of one textbook to three students. There are an average of 50 students per teacher.
This is one of the schools that my school, Long Trail, supported by providing 25 desks. Prior to that, there were only 7 desks in this school. Now the kids are able to study comfortably.
The roof blew off of Pate School and now the classes are scattered throughout the village. First grade is held under a tree in back of the school.
In April, 2003, a major wind blew the metal roof off of five classrooms at Pate Primary School. It also knocked down some of the classroom walls.
As a result, three classes are now taught in the village in various homes. This class is in the local video (cinema) hall.
Standard 1 (First Grade) is being taught under a tree in back of the school. This is these children’s first schooling experience.
The English lesson for today came in handy as the children greeted us with some of the new words they were learning. Primary school in Kenya is mainly taught in English so these children have to learn the language quickly.
Some of the students are being taught in a temporary hut just outside the school. The overall performance of the school dropped dramatically last year after the disaster.
The school needs to be reconsolidated to continue with it’s previously excellent performance. Before they lost their roof, Pate Primary School finished #1 in the district.
Mtanga Wanda Primary School holds classes 1 through 6. It is a very simple school, but has a wonderful spirit. Their Standard 7 and 8 students have to walk 45 minutes to Pate Primary School.
Mtanga Wanda Primary School had received some aid in the form of metal roofing. In January, 2003, ICF supplied the timber needed to support the new roof. There is still one classroom to the left with no roof at all.
In addition, ICF provided 25 new desks to the school. Prior to this assistance, the school only had 7 single desks, which were not enough for even one classroom. The school is very grateful for our contributions. These were the happiest students we met on our trip.
During our visit, we gave the school a World map and an Africa map. These are the only teaching aids that the school has. There is a serious lack of textbooks here. Free education has yet to make a positive effect here.
The Faza Girl’s Primary School is adjacent to the Boy’s Primary School. The classes are small is size as there are plenty of teachers supplied to the district headquarters' school. These students are lucky in that there is a Secondary School in their village as well.
The U.S. Marines assisted this school in 2002. They built two complete classrooms, very nicely finished with solid windows and doors. There is a Navy base in the area, which results in the Marines helping some schools in the Lamu Archipelago.
The Faza Boy’s and Girl’s Primary School also share a jabia for water collection. Every drop of rainwater collected is a help to the villagers. Many roofs do not have gutter systems, or they are old and rusty. Improved gutter systems at all of the schools with jabias will be a great help to the villagers on Pate Island.
Here are some girls in upper primary school. The Muslim religion is very strong in this area, so all of the girls cover their head after reaching puberty. They are sitting at desks which were required to be built by the pupil’s family before the government implemented free primary education in 2003. A student would not be allowed into Standard One without bringing his/her own desk. Many could not afford the cost of educating their child.
Here is a breakdown of what the government provides the Faza Primary School on a per pupil basis. The annual payment per pupil of Ksh633/= is equivalent to approximately $8. Textbooks are shared at a ratio of one book to three students. Free Primary Education has resulted in a huge increase in enrollment in the lower primary grades, and has resulted in overcrowding in the classrooms. Unfortunately the number of teachers and number of classrooms has not been increased to handle the surge in student population.
One major problem facing Ndau is lack of jobs. Their local industry was based on mangrove cutting which is now banned by the government. As a result, the young males leave the island looking for a better life, leaving only girls in the upper primary level of study.
The upper primary school block’s roof is in terrible condition, with many of the timbers totally rotten and only temporarily reinforced. It is a dangerous situation for the students studying there.
The students of Kiwayu entertained us with wonderful songs, all of us were happy and singing together.
The entrance to Kiwayu’s school compound is always open. It is my personal hope and expectation that ICF will return to these island villages offering increased hope for the children’s education and welfare!