The school opening!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009 — Week seven and eight: 27-04-09 to 9-5-09. The school was to be opened on the 4th of May, at the start of term 2, so the week before was extremely busy, and problematic.

The constitution still had some problems that needed to be ironed out, so the funding for the roof could not be sent over. As a back up plan to such an eventuality we had previously arranged the use of one of the nearby primary school classrooms. Yet, when it came to it, the one I thought we were to use was now no longer available, and instead we were to use one of the chicken coops! Understandably I had no intention of opening the school in there so I declined. Finally an agreement was made to teach outside (or in a nearby house if it was raining) until 11am and then move into the nursery when the children went home for the day; not ideal but preferable to the chicken hut.

I had arranged to meet Daniel, the head teacher of the primary school who, by government regulation, is obliged to act as head of any secondary school opening in the vicinity for the first two years. Unfortunately, Daniel had just left for ten days (where, he wouldn’t say) and wouldn’t be at the school opening. He left word for Margaret Kisambi, the deputy-head, to oversee everything in his absence, but nobody knew where Margaret was. Seemingly she had disappeared a month ago and had not come back. As she was responsible for student recruitment this created a little pressure, and the committee worked hard to recruit students in her absence.

Another problem came about in that I assumed, incorrectly, that we could get a list of students, agreed and committed before the school opened on the 4th May. I soon discovered that the Kenyan way of doing things is a little different; a school must open and then students come to look at it, like window shopping, to decide if they want to attend (perfectly sensible way to do things when you think about it!). Thus, when they turned up on the Monday to find no head teacher, deputy head or roof on the school building, some were understandably perturbed. All the same we managed to get 5 students enrolled and lessons started, which I think is as good as we could have expected. The hope now is that these students will raise the profile of the school, and, once the building is finished, that the enrollment for the next school year in January will be much higher.

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