Verein Salesan Altendorf


Integrated Primary School
Katani, Kenya

Summary

Shortages of classrooms, qualified teachers, and infrastructure currently plague Kenya ’s education system. A compounding factor to the educational dilemma is HIV/AIDS.  This disease has left many children homeless, as orphans, or in the care of destitute relatives.  These children are often not provided their basic needs of shelter, food, clothing, or health care. Where these basics of survival are in jeopardy, education is neglected.

Unable to meet the burgeoning crisis competently, the Kenyan government has welcomed the aid of various religious congregations and NGO’s. 

With the support of local partners, the MSFS proposed to establish an integrated learning institute for primary school-age orphans and other underprivileged children at Katani in the Machakos District of eastern Kenya . This institution emphasizes academics, vocational training, and life skills formation. The project’s target population, children pre-school to age 14 years, currently comprises 52% of the population in the Machakos District.

The project’s chief objectives include providing a wholesome learning and developmental environment to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of Kenyan orphans and underprivileged children.

Statement of Need

In 2003, the Kenyan government introduced free primary education. As a result of this initiative, two million children who had previously not attended school have now been enrolled in the country’s 1,000 primary schools. Quantitatively, free primary education is a major achievement.

The quality of education, however, has tremendously declined in recent years. This is the result of a scarcity of teachers, books, teaching aids, classrooms, desks and general education infrastructure. The teacher to student ratio poses the biggest challenge to the quality and delivery of education. Classes of over seventy children in classrooms without desks are a common occurrence.  The poor bear most acutely the brunt of these inadequacies.

The multifaceted effects of AIDS on life in Kenya and the socio-economic welfare of the Kenyan people are quite evident. Many poor families are now over-burdened with the task of rearing children left by parents unable to care for them. Many families lack the capacity to provide these children more than a single meal per day, let alone clothing, medical care and education. Meeting the daily needs of such families has become a major challenge to the Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales and other religious congregations in Kenya . 

Occasioned by perennial poor harvests and low family incomes, educating children is secondary to survival, as evidenced by high school dropout rates. Poor youth have few opportunities for an education that could enhance their productivity and provide the educated human resources necessary to transform their country industrially.  The vicious cycle of poverty and despair can only be broken through the provision of affordable, quality education for the poor.

Schools in the Machakos District in the Athi River Division of the Eastern Province of Kenya are overcrowded due to the high population of school age children.  Generally the level of education in the district is quite poor due to lack of basic facilities and quality teachers.  It is estimated that currently only 65 percent of primary school age children in the Machakos District attend school.  As of 2001, only 17.6% of the labor force was literate [Machakos District Development Plan, Ministry of Planning and National Development - Republic of Kenya (2001 Edition)].   

Katani village is situated in the Machakos District approximately twenty-five kilometers southeast of Nairobi .  Due to its close proximity to the Nairobi-Mombassa Highway Truck Stop and the high prevalence of prostitution in the area, the incidence of HIV/AIDS is quite high.  A tragic ramification has been the alarming number of orphans and homeless children.

A recently completed study of the educational and training needs of Katani and the neighbouring areas draws the following conclusions (statistical information taken from the 2001 Machakos District Development Plan):

Forty-five percent of the population of 60,556 is clustered in the 6 to 13 year old age category.

The dependency ratio (or number of individuals in the population who are economically dependent compared to the number who are productive) is 100:120.

Fifty-two primary schools and nine secondary schools serve the area.

Enrollment in primary and secondary schools is 12,376 and 1,985, respectively.

Given these data, a primary school and hostel to care for the educational, physical and emotional needs of the poorest children of Katani and the surrounding area is urgently needed.

Project Description

The goal of this project is to provide orphans and other underprivileged Kenyan children quality education and preparation for life. To accomplish its goal, the project intends to establish an integrated educational institution for the academic, vocational, and life skills formation of orphans, poor children and youth at Katani in the Machakos District of eastern Kenya .

The project’s specific objectives are:

To provide integrated primary education services to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of orphans and underprivileged Kenyan children.

The proposed institution will assist children from early childhood to age 14 years. This is the project’s target population, a group that currently comprises 52% of the population in the Machakos District. The project’s initial direct beneficiaries will be the 400 children enrolled in the school. The criteria used for selecting students will place a high priority on orphans, children from poor families, and physically disabled children.

The institution’s educational program will encompass three disciplines:

Formal Program - using the Kenyan education system with a 2-year preparatory stage and 8-year primary school curriculum.

Non-Formal Program - to prepare over-school-age and slower learners for integration into the formal program, the school will conduct a 1 to 2-year non-formal education preparatory program catering to students’ individual needs.

Technical Training - skills in carpentry, tailoring/dressmaking, cooking, bookkeeping, computer science and agriculture, as supplementary programs. Youth completing Standard VIII who lack the aptitude or opportunity for a secondary school education will be given the opportunity to enroll in advanced vocational skills training at St. Joseph’s VTC in nearby Mlolongo.

A 15-acre parcel of land in Katani village has been purchased and documents of ownership processed.  St. Joseph ’s Parish - Mlolongo Pastoral Council, the Katani Parents’ Advisory Committee and local government authorities have all offered their encouragement and willing support to realize the school project as a community based initiative.

The school compound consists of two pre-school classrooms, eight primary school classrooms, one vocational workshop, student dormitory accommodations for one hundred and sixty students, a library, staff room, central office, and toilets. The entire complex will be a single story structure encompassing 3,585 square meters. Construction will be of concrete columns, granite stone walls, wooden trusses, and corrugated iron sheet roofing.  Electricity to the site has been assured by the Machakos District.  Rehabilitation of the nearby Katani bore well and installation of pipe is already bringing water to the construction site.

The school will provide classroom instruction from pre-school through grade Standard VIII. The curriculum will follow the syllabus of the Kenyan Ministry of Education. Classes taught will include English, Kiswahili, mathematics, geography, science, social studies, history, and religious education. Each grade will accommodate up to forty students.

The school will employ nine full-time teachers. The teaching faculty will be comprised of a congregation of religious Sisters and other qualified instructors recruited locally. Teachers’ salaries will be paid from school tuition fees.  Non-teaching support staff will include two matrons to look after the personal needs of the girls and a male to provide similar support for the boys.  Other staff will include two cooks, a custodian, a nurse, and three security guards.

Students’ desks, books, school equipment, workshop machines and tools, and dormitory furnishings will be installed near the time of completion of school, expectantly around the last quarter of 2006.  Classes for children in pre-school and the lower primary are expected to officially open in January of 2007.  The school will implement a reduced school tuition fee schedule for orphans and children from poor families unable to pay. The program will be subsidized by enrollment of children from families capable of paying the normal tuition fees.

The school will maintain a five-acre model agricultural farm for horticultural and animal husbandry training and to supplement the vegetable, meat, and milk supplies for the institution. The same principle will be applied to other fields of technical training, in order to maintain practical training for quality work.  This component will eventually lead to the development of small production units that will provide for the generation of funds for the financial upkeep and administration of the institution’s various vocational departments.

The Katani Integrated Primary School will be under the Patronage of St. Francis de Sales. Katani village residents will serve as members of the School's Parents Advisory Board.  Children of all faiths and ethnicities, will be welcomed and admitted to the school. 

The Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales will administer the school. The Provincial of the MSFS Province of East Africa and Fr. Augustine Mangatt , Councilor to the MSFS Superior General and Coordinator of the congregation’s missions in Africa , will be responsible for the management of project funds and will provide on-site construction supervision.

Evaluation of the project will be based upon the results of detailed school records, the number of students attending the school, and the number of graduates.  The initial success of the project will be measured by these parameters.  After graduation, graduates will be monitored for a five-year period.  Personal visits to students’ homes and surveys will be used to determine whether the graduates have continued their education at either secondary or vocational schools.  The school’s ultimate success will be measured by its impact on the lives of the children receiving their education at the school and their impact in the Katani community and beyond.

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