2014 has brought with it a challenging new season in Kenya educate for the rural poor. While private schools have consistently performed at a higher level than public schools they have done this while being able to keep teacher salary at a minimum level. Due to a change in the constitution and a new agreement between the government and the public school teachers the Kenya TSC (Teachers Service Commission) has determined that ALL teachers, even those working for private schools must have the proper credentials and receive a minimum pay; this new minimum is 2 1/2 times the previous level of payment for the teachers at Neema Nuru. Currently we are rushing to try and accommodate this change. The rural poor family still makes only $10 to $15 per month.
For the past 10 to 12 years Kenya, nationally, has declared that every child should have a free education through the primary system. The primary education years extend from nursery, which is prekindergarten, through standard eight which is the equivalent of the Western eighth-grade. At the end of the standard eight-year a student sits for a national test, this test being standardized for every student in the country. The results of this standard eight test determine the students potential to extend their education. In this simple context it seems to me, very evident that the quality of the primary education, much as in our own country, is the foundation for all the educational potential available to the student. In Kenya the standard testing gives no flexibility for scoring between children who are educated in the very best schools, which are consistently private, more expensive, and centered in urban areas, and the public schools in the most remote, poorest, least developed and worst infrastructure circumstances which exist in the rural community.
As Kenya develops it becomes increasingly clear that extending the educational experience is fundamental to the growth and inclusion of the rural communities; the reality, however, is that under the current structure the rural poor have an extremely difficult path to climb. It is fair to say, I think, that assistance to increase the potential for a child to gain an education without regard of urban or rural status is very important, life-changing one could say. To change the future we, finding ourselves in a rural setting of poverty complicated by lack of economy and continuation of large families, must embrace a vision which is generational in perspective. That is to have an effect on the systemic problem of the cycle of poverty and illiteracy the dynamic ingredient is the emerging generation.
The focus of GADL is two fold; on one hand see our dedication to assisting students who are able to continue their education after the standard eight-year; on the other hand, for primary schools and students our involvements include infrastructure improvements such as classroom teaching materials and desks for the students to sit during class. Primary involvements also includes encouraging teachers, upgrading facilities and person to person encouragement to the students themselves. It has proven very important for the primary students to be engaged with English-speaking visitors as much as possible.