While some pupils enjoy taking their lessons in newly built classrooms, their colleagues on the other side of the compound are either learning in dilapidated classrooms or under trees. That’s the stark contrast one is greeted with when they visit Rabuor Primary School in Nyando Sub-County. The Public Department of Health, for obvious reasons, has condemned the dilapidated building which also houses the school’s administration block.
The school, started in 1938 accommodates approximately 1000 pupils most of them being orphans. The population of the school has continued to strain the existing facilities over the years with the introduction of free primary education making an already bad situation worse.
“The dilapidated state of the classrooms is beyond what we, as a public school, can attempt to salvage due to limitations of resources. We have a high enrollment compared to the available infrastructure to meet that demand which has affected the quality of education in the school,” says the school’s headmaster, Mr. Charles Odida.
But even with the inadequate facilities, the pupils’ spirit has not been dampened. Their performance in both academic and extra-curricular activities is stunning as demonstrated by the many trophies that are placed on a table behind the headmaster’s seat. Of the array of trophies displayed on the shelf, one sticks out – the Scottish dance trophy. The school has won the trophy twice in a row, on 2013 and 2014 for emerging as the best Scottish dancers in the entire Nyanza region.
“We are happy of this achievement. Despite being a public school that serves a fairly poor constituent, we keep winning the competition that draws mostly private and high cost schools from the region. If we win it this year (2015), it will be ours to keep,” boasts Mr. Odida.
The new classrooms spotted in the school however did not come easy. Upon the realization by the school back in 2012 that the facilities in the school were being stretched beyond its capacity, the school management began an awareness campaign targeting parents in rallying them on the importance of coming together to raise resources to expand and renovate the facilities cognizant that the government allocation was hardly enough.
After many false attempts, the school was able to renovate a few classrooms through parents’ contributions but this was hardly enough to make an impact. It was during this time that the school partnered with a local community organisation that focuses on improving education access called Kidi Luanda to explore ways of improving Rabuor’s school environment.
Kidi Luanda introduced KCDF’s matching grant concept dubbed Entrenching Local Resource Mobilization (Pamoja 4 Change) to the school. The grant seeks to encourage local communities to come together and fundraise half the cost of whatever project they would want to implement with KCDF matching that amount a shilling for a shilling. The concept essentially aims to encourage community giving while giving communities the confidence to address their own community challenges with minimal “external” support as a sustainable way of community development.
“When we first introduced this concept to Rabuor’s Primary School‘s leadership, they were very unenthusiastic about it. One of the reasons they gave was that the catchment community was fairly poor as well as the false starts they have had in the past in raising resources to renovate the classrooms,” said Malin Akinyi, Kidi Luanda’s Coordinator.
After a lot of convincing and consultation between the school’s leadership and the parents, the school came on board and embarked on raising resources to build four Early Childhood Education classrooms at a cost of Sh700,000.
“We agreed to be part of the programme after a lot of introspection and consultation. Parents are very sensitive to hiking of school fees and we had to reassure them that the fees, which was already a burden for them, would not be increased. We also had to reassure the parents that they could entrust their money with KCDF although in retrospect I was not fully convicted” says Mr. Odida.
The school decided to hold fundraising events as opposed to increasing the fees since that required clearance from the Ministry of Education. The first fundraising event. Which involved parents and took place in 2012. Each parent was asked to contribute KES 1000 and the school was able to raise KES 300,000.
Encouraged by the first fundraising event, the school held another fundraiser which involved reaching out to friends of the school such as the alumni’s of the school as well as the local leadership. After the event, the school was able to raise the requisite KES 400,000 unlocking the KCDF match. The school constructed the four ECD classrooms which currently accommodates 200 pupils.
“The construction of the ECD classrooms at Rabuor however opened a pandora’s box for Kidi Luanda as many other schools from the region realized that they too could fundraise for their infrastructure projects,” says Malin.
Kidi Luanda in partnership with KCDF also supported Alendu Secondary to construct two classrooms. The school fundraised KES 1.2 Million which was matched by KCDF and they put up two classrooms that accommodate 100 pupils leading to improved performance of the students.
“It was fairly easy to convince the community to give because they knew they were contributing money towards a project that benefitted their own children. The school had also utilized their allocated resources prudently and the parents had full confidence of the school,” quipped Mr. Andrecus Oluoch, the head teacher of Alendu Secondary.
At Masogo Mixed Secondary School, the school enlisted in the Pamoja4Change project and they put up a new dormitory at a cost KES 1.2 million. The dormitory accommodates 103 boys who initially put-up in an iron sheet dormitory that became very cold at night and very hot during the day posing a health hazard to them.
Other projects supported by Kidi Luanda with support from KCDF include: two classrooms at Rongo Primary School at a cost of Sh900,000, one classroom at Ranjira Secondary at a cost of Sh415,000 and two classrooms at Nyamware Primary School at a cost of Sh830,000.
The Pamoja4Change project has, beyond improving the lives of the communities in Nyatike Sub-county, encouraged the communities to take control of their developmental destiny by looking inwards for their development solutions.