Community meeting at Waondo Primary School, Kenya ©

We’re pleased to share that our two Community-Driven Education pilot projects in Kenya are off to a great start! Global Partners believes community leadership is the key to responsible and sustainable development and that local people have the right to drive change in their schools and communities. After the success of our Community-Driven Education work in Tanzania, we decided that it was time to expand the initiative to Kenya (see last newsletter’s Community-Driven Education Hits It’s Stride!).

Because we recognize that education is exceedingly important in the fight against poverty and that schools are often the epicenter of development in a community, our initial engagement begins with local primary schools. In the case of our two Kenya pilot projects, these are Waringa Primary School and Waondo Primary School, both located in the Suba North Constituency of Homa Bay County, near Lake Victoria.

Through our Community-Driven Education Program, all households in these communities are encouraged to participate alongside school staff in the identification, implementation, and sustainability planning of projects that impact student attendance. Through several meetings, led by our new facilitator, Dora Achieng’ Okeyo, each community identified the greatest contributing factor affecting their primary school’s low attendance rates. The Waringa community identified classroom improvement as the primary goal for bolstering student attendance because they have only two complete and six incomplete classrooms. And, the rusted and dilapidated iron sheets that make up the school’s preschool classrooms pose a severe hazard to its youngest students.  To meet this need, Global Partners and the Waringa community will renovate four classrooms (plastering and repairing walls, leveling and finishing floors, and replacing roofs) and construct a new 3-in-1 preschool classroom.

The Waondo community also identified classroom improvement as the primary goal for improving student attendance, in their case because high winds blew the roofs off a block of classrooms. Community members re-used the salvaged roofs, but they currently have only three complete classrooms. The projects they decided on were renovations for five classrooms, which will include re-roofing, ring beam strengthening, raising the roofs up, adding doors and windows, and constructing new floors. The school will also gain access to clean water by establishing a connection to a nearby pipeline.

Further promoting community ownership, each school and its local community will contribute funding to their projects. They’ll also receive financial support from the local government through the Constituency Development Fund, bringing the sum of local contributions to over 20 percent of the total project cost at each school! Ensuring that the completed infrastructure work is maintained over time is also extremely important, so the headteacher and Board of Management at each school will provide routine monitoring and classroom repairs and report to their school committee regarding any needed maintenance.

Global Partners takes seriously its role in helping these communities meet their immediate needs and bolstering their infrastructure capacity, but we equally value the importance of developing human capacity in each of these communities. With this in mind, Waringa and Waondo each elected a leadership team whose members then received training from Global Partners on project identification, vetting, budgeting, implementation, and sustainability training. The hope is that with newly acquired structure and skills, these communities will continue their local action and direct and manage future development projects for education or other needs, long after Global Partners has left.