Education, healthcare, sanitation, food, shelter and many more are exigencies that are indispensable to all humans. Amongst all, education is high on almost everybody’s list of priorities. Despite such a fact, illiteracy has always been the core reason for poorly developed education standards in the inlands of Kenya.
At Tumaini Zhongwani Primary, a small school located in Garashi on the outskirts of Malindi, life hasn’t been a crystal stair for the young students. The school has been facing many challenges, like other schools in the suburbs – scarcity of teachers, classrooms, staff rooms, lockers, learning materials and other education facilities. It has been quite a difficult thing to raise enough funds to meet these needs due to lack of sustainable jobs. Most of the students are forced to attend their learning sessions in shifts due to the scarcity of classrooms. Some attend their lessons from 8 am to 12 noon and some report from 2 pm to 5 pm. Walking in the scorching hot midday sun for miles without shoes on their feet and sitting on stones under trees during learning sessions has been a great deal to bear with. Most of the time the weather is too extreme, making the situation tougher for the students.
The class built by Word Forest in Tumaini Zhongwani Primary School is now sheltering twenty class eight students who are expecting to sit for their Final National Examination come December. With no more shift lessons for them, the students are expected to perform much better than the previous years. The Class Building Project has been of great help and has impacted everyone positively. Apart from smoothing the students’ studies, it has given the school a much better view to behold and was a source of employment for numerous people living around the school premises.
On 8th June this year, we were able to interview some of the parents, two workers (Dama and Katana), the headteacher, one of the students studying in the newly built classroom and two teachers. I deem the interview a success and everyone was all smiles and thanks.
“During the construction, we were able to earn something to sustain ourselves and we are extremely grateful for providing us with jobs during the four weeks of construction,” said Katana, one of the masons.
“We are really grateful for the building of this classroom. Since the school began, we as parents have had to come together with other community members to raise funds during any construction to be made in the school and it hasn’t been very easy. Our children have been going through a very tough time while studying, more so during extreme weathers, and we are thankful for providing them a spacious classroom and the lockers,” the mother of a student studying in the school spoke.
Dama, a mother of four who worked at the site said, “My husband used to work in a hotel as a room steward. When the COVID 19 pandemic hit, the hotel was shut down and he has been jobless ever since. It has been a tough time for both my husband and I, with four mouths to feed and without a proper job to rely on. When the construction started, we approached Eva and Esther and explained our situation. We are grateful because they employed us despite our lack of skills in construction work. I worked during the entire construction period, fetching water and other jobs that require no skills at all while my husband worked in the section of mixing mortar. For the four weeks, we were able to have two decent meals and save some amount for the children’s school fees.“
At the school, the headteacher, Mr Kitsao, said, “I am glad that my students have a wonderfully spacious and comfortable class to study in. As a result, I am expecting a better performance from them during the National Examination.“
Kache, one of the students studying in the new classroom and also the school head girl, had a vote of thanks to the organisation.
“It has never been easy for us students learning in shifts yet we have a final examination to study for. We have been yearning for a better learning environment and we are now very grateful to The Word Forest Organisation for making that possible for us. I am especially thrilled with the lockers we got, since I can lock my books in when leaving the school without any fear of my books getting stolen. Being the only primary school students in Garashi using lockers, the feeling is ecstatic. We are really grateful.“
With the construction done we are hoping for better results from the students and betterment of students’ welfare and greater soaring in their studies.
Knowing the shortcomings of government schools, more so the poorly developed ones, I can freely say that the classroom has been a source of delight for the students and a motivation to endeavour. I also deeply believe that it has raised the community’s eagerness to make the school a better place for the students.
Linnah Charles and the Team