Navigating School Sponsorship in Rural Kenya
Today was supposed to be our big meeting to resolve the Taragwiti sponsorship situation. The DEO had called the meeting and had invited the local chiefs, parents, Salvation Army representatives, Nuru representatives, school staff and all other interested parties. This situation is complex.
Our education team is treading softly. We don’t want to incite the parents against the Ministry or Salvation Army. We don’t want to take on a sponsorship without fully understanding the roles, rights and responsibilities associated with that position. We do, however, want to get to work on implementing programs that will have an impact on the quality of education.
In an effort to clarify the role of sponsors and untangle some of the mixed messages we have received from the DEO, the education team drafted a letter that summarizes what he has told us throughout this process and presents our criteria for accepting a sponsorship. Moses and I took the letter to Kehancha on Tuesday in an effort to meet with the DEO, gain clarity and request that he sign the letter to verify our joint understanding. Meanwhile Francis, Vicky, Munsi and Omondi led a meeting with the parents of Taragwiti to explain our stance on the sponsorship issue and quell any rumors that were circulating.
The following criteria were presented to the parents and the DEO as our conditions for sponsoring Taragwiti or any other school.
- Nuru would have control over academic management and curriculum implementation at the sponsor school
- Nuru would control the finances of the school including revenue generated, proceeds from harambees and the management of government grants
- Nuru would not be required to prioritize infrastructure development
- Nuru will be responsible for maintaining school records and managing facilities and enrollment
- Nuru would have control over the staffing of the school in collaboration with the Ministry. Nuru would advise the Ministry in the selection, transfer and retention of teachers and head teachers.
- Nuru would maintain 3 spots on the school committee
- Nuru should have the ability to start and prioritize interventions or programmatic developments without the interference of the Ministry.
The DEO has rescheduled the meeting for September 15. Before the next meeting, we hope to meet with the DEO to discuss our criteria and hear his perspective. In the meantime, the education team will continue to research the referenced changes to the Education Act. Because of the recent cholera outbreak in our area, they will also venture into the local schools to teach students about the disease and how to prevent and treat it. As we push through this tough phase with the Taragwiti sponsorship, we will continue to seek ways to provide a positive and tangible benefit to the community we’re here to serve.