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Kenya: A personal point of view...

Ben Otieno is the Project Coordinator at Ondati Secondary School and works closely to manage each business by providing labour, handling customers, and dealing with cash in-flow.  Because the students have such a busy timetable and are not always available to give their time to the businesses, it is crucial to have a member of staff such as Ben to ensure continuity and good management.  Ben also plays a key role in supervising student manual work and setting relevant tasks for them relating to each individual project.  He also circulates the projects during project manual work time and makes sure work is being carried out properly.

When asked his opinion on the implementation of the self-sufficient school model so far in Ondati, Ben commented in the following areas.

Business

“If there is consistency there could be a positive change.  The businesses although they’re not doing very well they’re trying.  I believe generally that is the nature of business, it starts small and then picks up provided there is focus.  The dairy business could help the school to reach some % of self-sufficiency.”

Students

“I have noticed interest from the students.  The girls need to be motivated by staff from the school.  Practically, they always grasp skills very fast.  Because they have limited time, they may not realise their efforts.  Business is meant for life improvement in terms of income, job creation etc.  For students the businesses are educational, so it is practically and theoretically beneficial.  I look forward for a more sophisticated business that students can come back to take part in even when they finish school.”

Staff

“For the staff it is a clear responsibility that they have in mind.  We are seeing staff to be the role models for the students and the community in terms of hard-work and honesty.  Though we may lack technical know-how, it’s where now assistance is needed from outside.

A lot of skills have been acquired (he says in reference to himself) in book-keeping, skills in nursery trees like grafting/budding, and general animal husbandry.  Teachers have also picked up skills from training.”

Community

“The community themselves at first they misunderstood the information, given to past development of schools like missionaries coming and doing everything for the school in terms of structures.”

Above Ben is speaking about the previous misunderstanding of TAMTF being a donor organisation which they are not.  Creating awareness on this point has been one of the biggest challenges and very time consuming.

“Now that feeling has gone out of their mind given the project officers have given a clear message to them.  They benefit a lot because most of the products go to the community directly which were not available before.”


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