Primary Education Innovation in Rural Kenya
Over the course of the past 3 days, the team has been divided between Kisumu, Nairobi and Kuria on a hunt for best practices. This hunt is a culmination of the past few weeks, which have been focused on increasing the team’s exposure to innovative work, training them on project planning techniques, and working to extract ideas from their brains and show them how to draft a model.
Last week, I had the team attempt to articulate all the thoughts and ideas swirling around in their heads in the form of a model. They have been learning about non-traditional and alternative education in the past few weeks and I wanted to see how they were applying that information to our situation. I asked them all to create a draft of the education model. I will have them iterate on that model over the coming weeks so they can see how dynamic this research and development phase is and can track the evolution of their own thoughts. We will also create one cohesive team draft to ensure that everyone is intimately involved in shaping our new direction.
The team put a lot of thought into their drafts and I found that they were really split into two camps. Vicky and Moses had outlined visions for alternative education interventions – like a learning center that offers drop-in programs and school outreach – while Munsi and Sabora had gone with a model school approach. Francis bridged the gap, drafting a plan for an outreach program that would be sustained through revenues generated by a private school.
The exercise proved that I need to work to bring the team together – to focus on one shared vision. It also illustrated the different ways each team member thinks and connects information. It highlighted areas that are unclear or unknown – areas that require research or discussion. The team learned that by articulating their thoughts, they were required to organize their ideas in a synthesized way; they were required to move from a nebulous idea to something more organized and coherent. The process required them to test the feasibility of their reasoning and answer practical questions. They voiced questions like – How would this idea be implemented? How would it be managed? What challenges might we face? What role would I play in that program or model?
In an attempt to answer some of these questions, we embarked on site visits and research Monday through Wednesday of this week. We split into 3 groups with Francis and Munsi going to Nairobi, me and Moses going to Kisumu and Vicky and Sabora canvassing the Kuria area. We had a long list of NGOs and experts to visit and have just returned to Isibania to share what we learned during our travels. I’ll update you on our findings next week.