As a continuation of our efforts to improve access to education, we are welcoming a new community into our fold. We will be moving to a community called Baraka Shalom in Molo area of Kenya. We are partnering with this community to fully develop a primary school right in the community. The community’s name translates into Blessing and Peace in English and therefore we hope that is foreshadowing of our endeavors.
This new development is a culmination of exploration and relationships which began mid last year. We have visited this area a number of times, interacting with the community members as well as other stakeholders involved such as local leadership and various government agencies concerned to ascertain the viability and impact of a school project in the community.
Baraka Shalom is located some five kilometers from Molo town in Nakuru County in the Central Rift region of Kenya. The community was formed as a result of resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who were dislodged during the 2007-08 Post Election Skirmishes that rocked Kenya. The community is among many found around Molo area which came about from this same situation. The community neighbors a major Roman Catholic Church educational complex and series of seminaries. It is also next to a major road and therefore more accessible than our other locations which are farther away from any other form of settlement.
The community consists of 141 households, mostly farmers and traders. The area is fertile for farming and is the main economic activity in this small community. Compared with some other locations we have schools in like Lemolo, they are slightly better of because the climate favors agricultural activities.
Currently, the community has a small school building made from iron sheets mostly which houses the primary school section. The classrooms and small office are very tiny. This current structure is a result of community contributions because they understood the need of a school in their community. The school has 171 students right now. The kindergarten section has two well-made classrooms built by the county government.
In Kenya, there’s a separation of responsibilities between the national and county levels of government and thus all early childhood education is apportioned the county government while the rest falls in the jurisdiction of the national government. In this case the county government has done its job and built two classrooms for kindergarten. Where there lies a major problem is the primary school section which the national government falls behind largely and is disappointing especially for recently settled area. This is where World Teacher Aid will be coming in to help build a proper primary school with eight classrooms and administration block made from stone bricks and thus very durable.
The school has grades one through six. These are the only grades they could fit into the space currently available. Students have to move to schools outside the community to attend grades seven and eight. There’s even fewer desks and some students have had to learn while sitting on the earthen floors of the current school. There are currently six government teachers and two volunteer teachers, these are adequate for the school in the meanwhile.
The project to construct Baraka Shalom Primary school is expected to begin next month to run concurrently with Safina Haji high school project. These two projects are supposed to be done by WTA annual donor trip to happen later this year in early August.
As I spoke to the community members about this new development, I have seen much excitement and enthusiasm regarding the new project. There are now going to have a proper school for all the primary school kids right in their community. Miriam Njeri, a mother of four kids said she’s excited her daughters won’t have to travel far out of the community when they graduate from grade six as it has been before.