May has found me back in the project on the brink of launching the outreach program. We have finalized a schedule that takes the outreach programs to every grade level in every public school in our area twice monthly. We will have a consistent presence in the schools without causing any interruptions in the school schedules or curricula.

During my trip back to Isibania, I made a brief stopover in Nairobi for a few meetings. While there, I met with Uwezo an organization currently working in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to assess literacy levels among children aged 5 – 16. Their tool is very simple and is based on the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) survey tool that has enabled widespread literacy progress in India. ASER is a tool facilitated by Pratham that has enabled to develop a highly successful intervention through their Read India program which is reaches children in both rural and urban areas throughout India.

Uwezo capitalizes on the success of this methodology and has worked in partnership with Pratham to refine the assessment tool for use in East Africa. Nuru’s education and research teams are collaborating to study the Uwezo methodology and determine whether it can be effectively applied as a tool to measure the impact of Nuru’s education interventions on literacy levels among primary school-aged children. If so, we will immediately set to work establishing a literacy baseline and an assessment schedule to test the impact of our outreach programs.

In other news, the team has made further progress with the dairy project. Land has been secured and napier grass has been planted. We are negotiating with the Ministry of Livestock to find the best farms from which to procure healthy, pregnant cows with a strong lineage of high volume milk production. Most of these farms are in the Rift Valley, which the Ministry refers to as the Kenyan “dairy belt”. Once we have identified trustworthy breeders, we will travel to Nakuru and Eldoret with an expert to check out the cows, test for pregnancy, and study their records and the farm conditions. If all goes as planned, we will purchase 8 cows, transport them back to Isibania and then eagerly await the birth of the calves. The births will mark the start of milk sales and set us on the path toward 100% sustainability of the education program.

The team will launch the outreach programs on the 23rd, two weeks later than planned. The delay is a result of several schools having to rearrange their master timetables to accommodate teachers who were either transferred in or out. Schools are struggling to fill the gaps in their teaching staff so students do not have to go half the day without a teacher. Others are trying to accommodate assigned teachers who may not be specialized in the subjects or grade levels they were looking to fill. These changes are common here. They are part of the reason that we developed a model that work in partnership with the schools but that was not reliant upon stability within those institutions. Change is constant in schools here and our ability to adapt to this first major change illustrates the dynamic nature of our plan.

I look forward to sharing the launch of the outreach program. I will soon post pictures and invite your feedback as we rollout the outreach initiatives. We are committed to constantly assessing and refining this model. As always, I welcome your feedback, input and tips as we move forward.