Nurturing children through a stable school environment

The story of Saparingo Primary School, Masai Mara, Kenya is the perfect example of how it takes more than just a classroom…

Saparingo Village lies on the top of the escarpment, eight km (5mi) from &Beyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp. The village has a small population of around 700 people, who live among the wildlife and bush. The hub of most villages is the market-place but Saparingo is so small that it does not have its own shops, clinics or secondary school. Its only facility is Saparingo Primary School.

The story of Saparingo Primary School is the perfect example of how it takes more than just a classroom to educate a child. Through collaborative working, the complexities facing rural communities can be understood, empowering &Beyond and Africa Foundation to assist with the most effective solutions.  The school was created in 2005 when the community came together to construct the first classroom. Reaching out for assistance they were then supported by World Vision to fund another three classrooms.

As nobody living in Saparingo was qualified to teach, community members had to go out to other areas to source teachers for the school. In the absence of accommodation on site, the teachers chose to live in the nearest village with a shopping centre, some six km (4mi) from the school. This daily commute added significantly to the length of the teacher’s day. With school commencing in the morning at 08h00am, teachers arrived at work already exhausted. As the school grew, the community recognised the lack of accommodation as an issue, both for the retention of the teaching staff and the quality of education delivered to their children. In 2014, with eight male and four female teachers employed, to cover Grade R to 8, Africa Foundation was approached with a request for assistance.

Working in partnership with the community, and through the generosity of donors, Africa Foundation was able to build living quarters for eight teachers. The community provided resources to build another house for four teachers. Now, all the teachers stay in the school during the week, breaking away on weekends and holidays to visit friends and families.

It soon became apparent however, that the picture for this school was not complete. Pupil attendance was still inconsistent and dropout rates were high. Not all children were travelling far distances, as the teachers had been, but many of them were facing numerous barriers to attending school with consistency and concentration. It was felt that, particularly in the case of girls, remaining enrolled to complete primary level education, and optimising the learning opportunities presented during school hours, would be more likely if the children stayed on site during term time. At school they could be removed from exposure to early marriages, household and agricultural chores, and be guaranteed daily cooked meals providing consistent nutrition to support their physical and mental growth and development.

In 2017, Africa Foundation was thrilled to be able to support the school again, and fulfil the desire for boarding facilities. A dormitory block with capacity for 64 girls was constructed and funds were raised to build another block for boys. In addition, an extra classroom was built so that now each grade could be taught in its own class.

2018 has so far seen the girls from Grade 4 upwards start to board in their new dormitories and construction of a boys dormitory which is now complete and ready for boys to start boarding in 2019. Alongside this, we have constructed and equipped a kitchen and dining hall for the school  Thanks to the generosity of &Beyond guest donors, the new kitchen and dining hall comes at the perfect time as the school becomes a boarding facility. The children had been eating outside from food prepared in a tin shack, and soon they will be able to sit at dining tables and enjoy a greater variety of meals prepared in an equipped kitchen.

With a growing desire for children to continue on to secondary level education, the community have allocated land near Saparingo Primary School for the construction of a secondary school, which could serve this and neighbouring communities.

To help make a difference to the community of Ololosokwan click here.

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