Steps Toward Sustainability for the Education Program

Working from the States for the past few weeks has provided a great opportunity to accelerate the Kenyan team’s leadership of the education program.  I am collaborating with them daily to manage the programs, but they are responsible for operations – an experience that is strengthening their project management skills, their inter-team communication and their confidence. Over the past month, we have achieved several important milestones on our implementation schedule.  These achievements are also preparing us to launch the education outreach programs the first week of May.

Over the past few months, the education team has been working to establish a strong relationship with the Kenyan Ministry of Education. We have communicated our goals and asked to collaborate with the Ministry to deliver our programs throughout public schools in our district. The Provincial Director expressed his support of our programs and encouraged our district Ministry official to follow suit. We recently received formal approval from the Ministry to launch our programs. This is significant for our program for many reasons. It enables us to collaborate with schools with the Ministry’s public support, which gives school administrators, teachers and parents confidence in our programs and their integration with government initiatives and curricula. The Ministry’s support also encourages schools to collaborate and engage in the programs we have designed to supplement and enhance their work. Such collaboration between schools will improve communication, idea sharing and knowledge transfer among teachers and administrators.

With approval in hand, we have accelerated our efforts to launch outreach at the start of the May term. We continue to develop our outreach program manual, a tool designed to provide guidance, resources and samples for our staff as they go into the field to deliver workshops.

On the physical infrastructure front, work on the dairy farm has begun – our effort to establish independent economic sustainability within the education program.  We have acquired 9.5 acres on which we plan to raise napier grass to sustain our dairy cows.  We will be raising Friesian cows, which are not the breed commonly raised in the community. This breed was selected by the Kenyan team after they conducted thorough research on dairy farms throughout Kenya. Friesian cows produce a greater volume of milk per day per cow than the indigenous breed, so we are hoping that in maximizing milk production and collection we can maximize the potential economic profitability of selling the milk.  The current lack of substantial surplus among community members who actually do raise dairy cows combined with the significant demand for fresh, pure milk among community members puts us in a good position to capitalize on the economic potential of a dairy farm while filling a gap in the community’s demand.

In my absence, the education team has also been overseeing renovations to the learning center in an effort to revamp an existing vacant building into a creative learning environment.  We are tasked with turning a modest cement block structure into a welcoming space that will inspire creativity in the education team members, local teachers and children who come to take advantage of the programs.  The location of the Learning Center immediately adjacent to Nuru’s Regional Training Center will be a convenient and advantageous one.  In a setting where communication, interaction and exposure is so categorically tied to distance between people, influences, and resources, simply having a variety of educators, experts, community leaders and community members sharing the same compound will benefit the education team and facilitate knowledge sharing.

Our plan with the Education Program is a rather unique one in Kenya. The tenets of creative and critical thinking that we are hoping to instill and inspire in the children are not something that most Kenyans have grown up with or, even as adults, have been exposed to.  Such easy access to observe and experience the program in person will be invaluable to teaching those outside the Education Team exactly what we are trying to achieve and how we are going about it.

About Lindsey Kneuven

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