As schools start to return in Scotland this week from another COVID-lockdown, we are thinking about all of the schools around the world which are less fortunate. For most of the schools we work with, the pandemic has forced much longer closures. For example, Ngambenyi Primary School in Kenya was closed for 9 months between March 2020 and January 2021. Hazel’s Footprints Trust recently sent its £5,000 annual grant to the school via partner charity African Promise. We know that this year it will be needed more than ever. Here’s a little look at how 2021 has kicked off for them.
It’s been a long 9 months at Ngambenyi Primary School
Here in the UK, it’s been a real challenge for children and parents to get through two separate school closures. Homeschooling and remote learning were hastily set-up to make sure that children didn’t fall too far behind. Even with those efforts, the school closures have been devastating for all involved. However, the impact in the UK really does pale into insignificance when compared to the situation in countries less well off. For students at Ngambenyi Primary School in Kenya, a full 9 months of learning has been lost.
Charles Coldman, founder of African Promise, told us, “it was certainly a long 9 months (for most children) away from school, especially without the ability for them to learn remotely or to be home-schooled”. Broadband connections and a device-per-child were, of course, an impossibility. Thinking about the impact of the pandemic, Charles went on to say, “the children are in for a long year now as they try to catch up lost time. That’s assuming schools remain open.”
A covid-safe zone
2021 in Kenya has seen a rise in covid cases, with a new variant being identified in the same region as Ngambenyi Primary School. African Promise, which runs the school, is doing everything it can to help schools maintain a Covid-safe environment. Most children are wearing masks African Promise has provided funds for essential PPE and cleaning equipment.
Hand-washing has become a huge priority for the school. Unfortunately, the Kenyan government has not been able to provide any additional practical or financial support to the schools. To help the situation, Hazel’s Footprints Trust provided £5,000 in summer 2020 as an emergency grant to African Promise so that it could invest in hand-washing facilities across all of its schools. We know that the children of Ngambenyi are in very good hands with African Promise supporting them every step of the way.
The school will soon have a new logo! To date, all of the African Promise schools have had school crests which are simply hand-drawn. They are soon to get a brand new digital version – doesn’t it look smart? We love the elephant!
African Promise has finished the installation of another rainwater storage tank at Ngambenyi. Unfortunately, there has been very little rain in the area over the last few months to top-up tanks and the water that was there has been used up. The school now has to have its water supply by bowser – everyone is keeping their fingers and toes crossed for some heavy rains soon. The water is needed so that the feeding programme can continue and the hand-wash stations can be used.
Despite the dry spell, the courtyard at Ngambenyi is turning into an oasis! Lots of hard work has resulted in several banana trees being planted. It’s so exciting to hear that the school is expecting its first fruits this year. Before long, we hope that all of the children will get to taste the first, school-grown Ngambenyi banana!