School life Kenyan style

Bev Stockley, Trustee for New Life Home Trust and teacher, spent six years living in Kisumu, Kenya where she assisted in setting up a center for children with special needs at Amani Cottage. She shares with us some of her insights into school life in Kenya… 

Getting a good education is an important part of any child’s life, however in Kenya it isn’t always as easy as it is for our children in the UK and there can be some unexpected costs. 

Finding a good school requires some searching and the staff at New Life do their best to source places at local schools, for those children that are still in their care by the time they reach school age. Like at home primary education is free in Kenya, but you are required to cover the cost of exercise books, pens, and pencils. In some cases, the schools will go so far as to charge a fee for using a desk and chair! 

To continue on at secondary school parents have to pay fees and the majority of schools are boarding schools, which require children to bring their own mattress, as well as bedding and other school equipment. I have seen families make great sacrifices and work numerous jobs in order for their children to complete secondary school and get an education. 

While living in Kenya we were involved in getting school uniforms for some of the children. This was nothing like shopping for school uniforms in the UK when you can pick up everything you need whilst getting your groceries at the supermarket. In Kenya, each school has a totally different uniform, from the style and colour even down to the stripes on their socks and the collars on the dresses!

Getting these uniform was no easy task either, we would queue outside the school outfitter, waiting to be called in to the bustling overcrowded shop. The ice cream vendor did a great trade selling his cones to the crowd stood around in the 30 degree heat. Once inside the children were measured and a tailor was then commissioned to make the clothes. Then it was off to the shoe shop to get the requisite black shoes.

The children love going to school though and are grateful for every opportunity to learn, as sadly, going to school is still not an option for every child in Kenya. The that fact that at New life we are able to send and support 30 children and teenagers through school is a blessing. Having an education is crucial it can save them from a life living in the slums.

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