Early in 2022, Hazel’s Footprints Trust awarded an educational project grant of £5,000 to Team Kenya, a UK charity working in Ndhiwa, rural Kenya. Team Kenya supports girls in accessing education, working in partnership with local NGO Twende Pamoja. This grant funded the salaries of two librarians, books and book boxes for 5 schools, and teacher training for book clubs at 5 schools. The following report has been contributed by Jacky Quincey, Trustee of Team Kenya.
Background to project
Twende Pamoja works with some of the poorest communities in and around Ndhiwa, in Homa Bay County, South-West Kenya. The area has been neglected over many years, change here takes place only very slowly, and the vast majority of people are still living from day to day, struggling to feed their families. Girls are low down in the pecking order because when they get married they leave their own family and go to live with their husband’s family, providing their parents with a dowry. This is an area where polygamy is commonly practised, and so a 13 year old bride will often find herself as the junior wife of a much older husband, with no prospects other than child-bearing, and absolutely no chance of completing her education.
This is why all of Team Kenya and Twende Pamoja’s efforts are directed towards promoting the importance of education for girls. If they complete 12 years of education, 8 years in primary and 4 in secondary, girls will be at least 18, more confident, with better prospects for employment or further education and a better understanding of their right to make the choices that matter in their lives.
Confidence in reading and good literacy levels are crucial for success in school, and so support for the library and reading clubs (which in addition motivate and inspire children to raise their aspirations) are invaluable. Team Kenya and Twende Pamoja are extremely grateful for the support provided by Hazel’s Footprints Trust through the grant we received at the beginning of this year.
The grant was allocated to five elements to this project.
1) Salary contribution for the two librarians to run the LRC library, mobile library, Reading for Empowerment training sessions and catch-up classes (£2,000)
It goes without saying that the Twende Pamoja (TP) staff are key to the successful running of the projects in Ndhiwa, and they have a very strong team in place covering not only the education-related projects which are the focus of the Hazel’s Footprints grant, but also all the agricultural training elements for women in the community and the ‘advocacy for safe communities’ work as well.
TP now have one librarian, Winnie Atela, who is supported by Ruth Akeyo, the Girls Education Projects leader, herself a trained librarian. The grant supported both librarians’ salaries.
As can be seen from the photo below, the library is a busy place, and Winnie has been doing an excellent job cataloguing the resources and looking after the stock as well as helping readers wherever needed. In total, in July there were 517 library users, of whom 15 were adults and 502 were children.
The library is the venue for the majority of the Holiday homework and catch-up classes which are run during school holidays, whether for primary girls who are supported through our Girls Support groups, or for Secondary students – former GSG girls who come back for some extra help with their studies as well as some financial support or counselling during their 4 years at secondary school. Winnie and others are delivering these sessions according to their own academic strengths.
2) Purchase of book boxes and books (£1500)
Books and book boxes have now been bought for and distributed to all 5 schools and the children and teachers are extremely grateful, and appreciative of the difference the reading materials will make!
The book boxes, which are very solid, cost 4,800 KES each (£34) and with the padlocks which were bought for them provide safe storage in the schools.
The books have been bought in a number of separate batches and then distributed to the schools (by Winnie on the back of a motorbike). The photo below is of the most recent batch when they had just been unpacked, being scrutinised by Madam Grace, one of the TP Board members who is a recently retired partner primary school Head Teacher.
Books have generally taken priority over teaching and learning materials, just because the schools had hardly any reading (for pleasure) materials for the children.
3) Teacher training for 10 teachers from the 5 schools plus colleagues from other partner schools (up to 30 teachers in total) to run book clubs (Reading for Empowerment programme), plus positive behaviour management, inclusive teaching and learning strategies, SRGBV awareness, children’s rights etc (£800).
The teacher training programme resumed once the schools were back for the new academic year. On 7th June, for example, there was a training session for the Teacher Librarians from all the 16 partner schools, which included topics such as the running of book clubs, selection of students, scheduling of the book clubs, related activities such as debates, role play, spelling bees etc. and especially the benefits the book clubs have brought for their pupils in terms of improved language skills.
Also in June there was a training meeting for the Girls Advocates from the 16 partner schools. The GAs are the teachers who agree to take on special responsibility for girls’ welfare in their schools and particularly for the most vulnerable Girls Support Group girls. They lead the weekly GSG sessions, are available to provide support and guidance where needed, and report particularly serious issues to the TP staff. During the June meeting the focus was on preventing pregnancies by ensuring that girls have the knowledge and understanding they need, and discussions about providing support in cases where girls have given birth.
The cost of such teacher training events includes transport for getting participants to Ndhiwa, refreshments, resources and photocopying, so we have been extremely grateful to HFT for the donation of £800 as part of our grant. Typically a training event for teachers will cost around 30,000 KES or £200, so the HFT donation has covered the cost of 4 very valuable teacher training sessions this year.
4) Transport & communication costs for teacher librarians, TP librarians and for catch-up classes (£200)
These costs include the regular visits to the schools or costs for the teacher -librarians if they need to visit the Learning & Resource centre as well as costs for students to attend catch-up classes in Ndhiwa.
5) Resources – including stationery, printing materials, book-binding, repair for existing books, hand sanitiser, masks (£500)
Monthly costs for keeping the library going and the books in good repair, including the books in the book boxes, come to around £50, so the £500 allocated within the grant covers the librarians’ needs for 10 months, which is extremely helpful.
The impact of this funding will be long-term because the resources that have been provided to the schools and the Library will improve literacy levels and wider learning and provide pleasure for many cohorts of children passing through those 5 schools over the coming years. The teachers and children understand the value of what they are being given and are all very appreciative of this support. Some of the comments we have received follow here:
I like reading because
- it helps ‘to improve my English language’ and ‘to improve my composition writing.’
- ‘some of them are funny and others teach us some things.’
- ‘reading leads to success.’
- ‘it helps me know some English.’
- ‘it motivates me and helps me in my writing.’
I think it is good to read a story book:
- ‘because it helps me to know some of proverbs, similes, idioms and metaphors so that they can help me in my composition writing and also how to use them.’
- ‘because reading story books make our English to be more fluent.’
- ‘because it improves you in grammar and composition writing.’
- ‘because it helps me to know spellings and improve my composition.’
- ‘because it helps the reader to be a fluent reader and to know some expressions to be used in writing.’
A teacher librarian comments:
What do you think shows impact that the project will be useful?
The way learners are making progress narrating events as they are creatively and embracing the reading culture to an extent of attracting other non-members to reading culture
Tell us how reading has helped children to improve their marks?
So far the answering of grammar questions in class and the positive deviation in the test results.
And a couple of extracts from Thank you letters:
May I take this opportunity to appreciate the Twende Pamoja organisation for the well-received books (story books). This has impacted positively towards language acquisition in our school.
(Eliud Othoo, Teacher Librarian, Wayara School)
The administration, staff, parents, pupils and the entire community of St Philips, Mirogi Mixed primary School do hereby sincerely and gratefully appreciate the Twende Pamoja fraternity for assisting our pupils to improve their learning and reading skills through the story and revision books we had received.
Kindly accept our message of ‘Thank you’ as we look forward to continuing to work with you.
(James Andiega on behalf of St Philips, Mirogi, Primary School)
Finally, on behalf of Twende Pamoja and Team Kenya, we would like to thank you for your support. This grant will make a significant difference to the literacy skills of many, many children across those 5 schools (currently around 400 per school, not to mention future cohorts), and equally importantly, it will introduce many of them to the joy of reading stories for the first time in their lives.