Nuru Education Outreach Resumes, School Schedule in Flux

Over the course of the past six weeks, the education program has been dealing with a lot of challenges. Kenya had a nationwide teacher strike that halted our outreach program for about a month. The teachers and government finally came to a resolution and we resumed outreach on October 1st after missing the month of September.

School Schedule Going Forward

As a result of the teachers strike, the Kenyan government decided to extend the school year three weeks, until the end of November. This was helpful to us because it allowed us to get in a full 3rd term of outreach before the end of the year exams commence at the end of November.

In addition to changing the end of this year’s school schedule, the Ministry of Education also decided to push back the beginning of next school year to the beginning of February instead of the beginning of January. Kenyan public schools usually begin the school year and have three terms with breaks in between, culminating with the school year ending in early November. The government’s decision to push back the beginning of the school year also meant that all of the other terms would be pushed back. Needless to say, the fluctuations in the school schedule have made it difficult to plan.

Just a few days ago, the Ministry of Education announced yet another change in the school schedule, revising the starting date back to January 7th. This change was made in response to criticism from parents and also concerns about the time around elections in Kenya. The 2007 elections in Kenya were marred by violence and rioting post-election over vote counting irregularities and many fear that there could be violence in March of 2013 when the presidential election is scheduled to take place. As a result, the schools have decided to give pupils the week off during elections to be with their families.

Impact on Our Program

What do all these changes in the school schedule mean for Nuru’s education program? Well, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that our outreach program is able to make up the lost time for the strike and will continue to present English literacy workshops in the schools until the end of the 3rd term in 2012 and beginning in January of 2013. We are expanding into Mabera division in January, and our plans are still on track there.

The bad news is that the Mobile Learning Center program, where we go out into our schools and do literacy workshops during the school breaks, might not be able to occur this year. We originally had planned to conduct four weeks of English literacy workshops in the schools that would be very similar to camps that children attend during school breaks. Now that the school year will be pushed to the end of November, and almost everyone in Kenya takes two weeks off during Christmas and New Year’s we are left with almost no time to conduct this program. We are still brainstorming how we might be able to fit it in, but more than likely we will use the few weeks at the end of the school year to plan and develop lessons for outreach during the first month or so of the 2013 school year.

Other News

In other news, we have successfully completed the collection of the Uwezo literacy assessment follow-up exam data in all nine of our schools in Isisbania Division. We had taken a baseline assessment of literacy levels in our schools in February of this year and want to see the change over time while pupils were in our programs. Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) did a tremendous job over the past two weeks of working with Vicky, our Program Leader, and our Field Managers to coordinate schedules with schools and make sure everything went smoothly during the testing of the pupils. We were extremely impressed by M&E’s work and efficiency. Both Vicky and Rogonga, the Program Leader for M&E, deserve a lot of credit for dealing with challenges and making sure everything ran smoothly.

Outreach for Term three started well and our new Education Coordinators for Isibania and Mabera divisions are getting the opportunity to give lessons in the our schools for the first time. We’ve almost completed our search for a new District Manager and Training Manager for our program. We’re anticipating a great finish to this year and expansion and growth for the coming year. In my November blog, I’ll highlight some of the things we can look forward to in 2013.

 

About Jimmy Leak

Education Program Strategic Advisor — Dr. Jimmy Leak has designed and managed early grades literacy programs in East Africa. While completing his Ph.D. in Education and Policy and Social Context at the University of California, Irvine, he was named a 2011-2012 Public Impact Fellow for his research on teachers and early grades student achievement.

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