Community Support Essential in Education Programs for Rural Poor in Kenya pt. II

The following week Tamwi and I researched the total cost of all the books Gukipimo needed. The price came out to about 50,000 ksh (approx. 675 USD). After playing with some numbers and estimating how much each farmer in Gukipimo could reasonably contribute to buying books, we decided that for every 100 shillings that Tamwi could raise from his parents Nuru would contribute 500, with the upper limit of our contribution being 45,000 shillings. According to our calculations, if every parent contributed 200 shillings Gukipimo could raise 9,000 ksh, meaning Nuru would contribute the full 45,000 ksh. The total would then be enough to buy all the books they needed, plus some basic teaching supplies. But there was a catch. The 9,000 ksh raised by parents would be considered a down payment for the books. Nuru would then buy the all the supplies and textbooks need and loan them to the school for one full year. The books would be “paid for” by the teachers of the school over the course of that year, but not in the form of monetary payments. Instead, the payments would be made in services. Each month the teachers would submit the lesson plans and schemes of work that they wrote from the textbooks for the upcoming month to the head teacher to give to Nuru. In this way, we could ensure that the books were being used maximally as tools in preparing quality lessons for the students. It also gave the teachers an incentive to prepare their lessons far in advance, guaranteeing that they would be fully prepared for every lesson they gave. If all of the teachers submitted their lesson plans on time for the entire year the books would become officially Gukipimo’s property.

The plan was straight forward enough. The only thing left to do was to raise the money from the parents and make sure that the teachers were willing to commit to such a proposal. When we presented the idea to the teaching staff they were thrilled. They assured Tamwi and me that once they had sufficient materials they would be happy to submit their lesson plans and schemes of work to us every month. I asked Tamwi how much time he thought he needed to raise the money. He told me that he would not return home until he had raised the full amount. Indeed, two days later the head teacher proudly placed a crumpled wad of Kenyan currency in my hand, informing that he had managed to raise the full 9,000 shillings and was anticipating receiving even more in the coming week. The following Monday he and Francis, the Education Field Manager, bargained for books and some teaching materials with the 54,000 ksh they had raised with the Nuru matching contribution. Later in the week the head teacher held a community-wide ceremony to present the books to the school. At the event community members donated another 22,000 shillings to go towards the purchase of more school desks and chairs and teaching supplies.

When I visited the school Tamwi proudly showed me where he was keeping the books in a nearby shop, where the owner had donated a dry, clean room to store the books in the nighttime. When he thanked me for all of Nuru’s support, I told him that he should be thanking himself. None of this would have been possible without his efforts to pool together the resources from the community.  Because of his leadership and ability to mobilize the parents, the impact of the project extended far beyond the purchase of new textbooks. During my visit a steady stream of parents came by to offer their help in building the walls for the outdoor classrooms, to bring spare fabric to decorate the walls of the nursery, or to simply come sweep dust out of school compound.  With Tamwi’s leadership and Nuru’s support, the community has taken ownership of the school in a way that, I’m confident, will bring about long-term improvements to little mud hut school on the hill.

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