Beginning this year, we had planned to start two new high schools in Lemolo and Haji communities in order to continue the educational efforts we started by establishing various primary (elementary) schools in these communities. Together with the various stakeholders we embarked on this goal and now I am delighted to say we’ve started the Bright Hope Lomolo Secondary School in Lemolo and Safina Haji Secondary School in Haji farm.
These are brand new schools in these areas and this past week, the two schools enrolled their first class.
It was exciting to see students from these communities continue their educational endeavors past their primary school certificate. Students reported to Form 1 (freshman) as from Monday, 15th of February and are still enrolling before the registration ends towards ends of February.
As of now, we have begun construction of classrooms in Lemolo with four classrooms almost done. We are moving fast since currently the students don’t have their own dedicated place to learn. They have been given a classroom from Sinendet Primary School (Lemolo B) to use in the meanwhile.
In Haji farm, the high school is utilizing the old building that housed the primary school before construction of the beautiful Safina Haji Primary School. They currently have 20 students coming in the first week and anticipate a class of about 30 students in Form 1. There is a plan to bring back the students in higher grades who are attending high schools away from the community.
In Lemolo, the high school admitted 46 students in the first week and anticipated an enrollment of about 60-70 students eventually. There has been a lot of buzz about the establishment of the school as well as great community energy towards this project.
I have observed that these two projects have had more enthusiasm and energy surrounding the projects unlike ever before. Perhaps its the community understanding the need of the schools or the fact that in both of these places, these are not the first projects and therefore the momentum is there. Perhaps its the presence of good relationships with various stakeholders emanating from the success of the previous projects but I like the way these projects have been embraced by the community.
In Lemolo, the community had various consultative meetings regarding the location of the school. Then the community selected the committee to lead the efforts, drawing people from both Lemolo A and B communities. Since this school is serving the two communities, the people have joined hands to make the school a success. And for the first time I even saw people from neighboring areas come in and join in the efforts.
After planning and determining all the resources needed, the community had a public fundraiser inviting people from all over including the civic, political and opinion leaders to raise enough money to help start the school. Since the government is yet to come in and take over, the school will employ local teachers until professional teacher can come in. Each parent had to fund-raise an agreed amount; they could ask for help from their friends or if able could give the agreed sum themselves. This is one of the reason why there is a higher number of students here since the community took a collective responsibility to make sure that the school is funded to start and didn’t just leave the responsibility to the parent in form of fees.
In Haji farms, the community had to meet a number of times before finally settling down on the location of the high school since there’s not a designated place for a high school. The community however has various plots of land left for public utility and had to agree on which plot to use for school and which to leave for future development of utilities like police station and health center. They actually agreed in a meeting after coming to welcome Amy when she recently visited the community.
I just came from there and met the community when they were breaking the ground where the school will go- literally, clearing the bushes, burning the vegetation and planning where the various buildings will go. It was a good indicator of the leading role the community is taking and the ownership they already have even before the foundations of the school’s buildings are laid. It is a good sight to behold for a community development practitioner such as myself. It means the project has a very good start.
For us in WTA, we will have to move fast and get things done. We’re also very excited to see all these happenings and it encourages us to keep working hard. I am very grateful to the various donors who have made these projects a possibility by giving their monies, big or small the donations are going to have a lasting positive change in these communities.
Sam, Field Rep