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If you thought history is only made after doing great things, then you better think again!

37 students at a local – Mwamzandi Secondary School – in Kwale County is reported to have registered 37 straight E´s. I mean E for elephant here. Whether this report is true, I’m yet to confirm; for I haven’t had a direct contact with the actual results of any school apart from what I have read in both formal and informal media.

KCPE Results 2014 by CountyBut be that as it may, if such reports are accurate, then they must be treated with the seriousness they deserve. For starters, a normal classroom should have an average of 40 occupants. If this was the case in the said school, it means only three students managed D and above.

This also generates more questions…were the boys and girls at a school named for a prominent son of Kwale-Hon. Kassim Mwamzandi learning on their own for the last four years before sitting for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education or were the fellows charged with tutoring not undertaking their duties properly. Put differently, wasn’t it possible for the management, teachers and parents of Mwamzandi Secondary School to detect that something was amiss in the four years that the students spent in school before they sat for the exams?

Reliable sources inform me that there is something particularly wrong with the discipline among the students of this hitherto good school. A recent visit to some of the local schools by the Court Users Committee made some interesting revelations concerning the ability of students to interact with visitors. While my sources have a lot of praise for one Madago Secondary School, where students are not only disciplined, but also confident while articulating issues, Mwamzandi students I’m told came across as a disappointing lot. Their concentration rate even during the short encounter they had with the CUC is below average as their way of engagement is casual. My informants were not surprised that they could manufacture as many E´s as possible.

But this is beside the point. The point is are we doing enough to address the customary lackadaisical educational standards in our county ? To be fair enough, the answer to my own question would be YES and NO. I’ll begin by addressing the NO part first. NO because we cry foul every time the exam results are out and then bury our heads in the sands like the proverbial ostrich when the shock and annoyance with those we think are culpable have dissipated. In fact from April up to December, it’s going to be business as usual. Then come December when KCPE results are out, we’ll resurface with the same old, boring noises as we prepare to witness what comes out from the KCSE.

YES because despite the education docket being in the purview of the national government, the county government has made it its topmost priority. This is the reason a larger number of learners at all levels are accessing bursaries and an equally larger number have the privilege to enjoy the CG scholarship for a cool four years-as long as they are hard working enough to score marks that are admissible in national schools.

The putting up of infrastructure for Early Childhood Development in Education as well as technical centres not to mention the hitherto controversial airlifting of the youth to study in India are a further evidence that someone is thinking critically about enhancing education in Kwale County.

But these efforts will not bear fruit if all of us don’t embrace education as the key to success. There is need for a complete overhaul in the way things are being done. If it was within my power, all the private secondary schools which have not recorded impressive national examination outcome would be denied the license to operate as they are a disgrace to academic progress in this county. All the members of the BOG of schools such as Mwamzindi would go home and parents in such schools would be made to report to the school management the progress of their children at home in terms of discipline and general behavior on a weekly basis.

Kwale County – KCPE Results – Statistics

At least someone should take responsibility every time we witness such disastrous performances. And there is a great need for the community to support the organizations working to uplift the standard of education by advocating for attitude change towards education. It’s also necessary to develop new strategies of enhancing educational standard and avoid as plague the unworkable once which we tried before but never bore any fruits. There is also need to have regular discourses on education just as much as we engage in politics. Let’s say, have monthly educational forums in each sub-counties to share challenges our educational institutions face and come up with ways forward in good time. Political leaders who are prone to putting up schools merely to gain political mileage must develop a culture of consultation with the community and education stakeholders so that such projects are not only relevant but also have the blessings of the community. I acknowledge that I don’t have a monopoly of ideas so I must stop.

But I challenge all of us to start looking at education issues differently

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A local Community based organization yesterday held a career exhibition in Kwale County to sensitize secondary school students on career choice. Kwale Welfare and Education Association (KWEA) convened the one-stop educational event at Matuga Girls’ High School where more than 200 students from fifteen secondary schools sampled from Lunga-Lunga, Msambweni, Matuga and Kinango sub-counties converged.

Representatives of about twenty public and private sectors, public universities as well as tertiary institutions delivered motivational talks and carefully led the students in the process of choosing relevant careers.

2nd career exhibition in Kwale County - Maisha is leading the way

2nd career exhibition in Kwale – Maisha is leading the way

The event was the second one of its kind since KWEA launched the exercise at Kwale High School last year. Career exhibitions are increasingly becoming necessary to build the capacity of students to enable them pick suitable careers while joining universities and other institutions of higher learning.

The KWEA exercise comes at a time when employers are questioning the preparedness of university graduates to competently operate in the job market. A recent study conducted by the Inter-University Council of East Africa (IUCEA) reveals that only half of the more than 50,000 students who graduate annually are suitable for employment. “And of these graduates, more than half are not suited to their career choice,” notes the report.

The challenge is attributed to the proliferation of satellite campuses, understaffing of public universities and the thirst and haste by Kenyan form four leavers to obtain impressive academic papers to secure jobs at the expense of seeking relevant career advice.

Local education stakeholders have in the past decried the underinvestment in research facilities in the local institutions as another disease ailing education. Indeed, efforts to remedy challenges that have culminated in poor academic results have partly been blamed on inadequate research or lack of it, to ascertain the causes of perennial poor performance.

‘There’s a great need to invest in research if we expect to address causes of poor academic performance in our schools,” said Taita Taveta University College Principal Prof. Hamadi Boga in a recent education stakeholders meeting in Kwale.

But KWEA, a group mainly comprising young professionals from Kwale have developed a holistic initiative to address the ailing education sector in Kwale. The career exhibition is one of the numerous programmes the group is currently undertaking to boost the dwindling academic standards in Kwale based primary and secondary schools.

KWEA - 2nd Career Exhibition 2According to KWEA chairperson Ramadhan Masudi Bungale, the organization is currently working on a series of programmes with all primary and secondary schools in the four sub-counties. “Each KWEA member has been assigned at least two schools to mentor,” says Bungale.

Among the organization’s on-going programs include Visodo Project-distribution of sanitary towels in schools as a way of keeping the girl child in school. The programme has increasingly grown popular in the past couple of years so much, so that it has attracted the attention of Build Africa-a UK based NGO which is currently partnering with KWEA to expand the project in more schools to benefit the girl child in Kwale.

Another of KWEAs principle programmes is the annual charity walk which was launched last year to raise funds for returning desperate girls to school. The walk raised more than Ksh. 300,000 which has since benefitted more than forty girls in Kwale. The annual programme is set to take place on the first Saturday of December every year.

Other on-going projects include mentorship and motivational talks in schools. Bungale also disclosed that KWEA is developing a program document on mentorship and employability for Kwale schools.

KWEA - 2nd Career Exhibition 4The occasion was officially opened by Kwale Governor, Salim Mvurya. The County government of Kwale has been one of KWEAs closest partners in its advocacy in education for all. During the function, the Governor pledged to assign one vehicle every weekend to KWEA members to use in their programmes.

The Governor reiterated his call for the return of the management of primary and secondary schools to the county governments. The drafters of the constitution, he noted, did not think wisely when they placed the management of education in the purview of the national government.

“How does someone sitting in Jogoo House understand what’s happening in our schools,” posed the Governor. He commended KWEA members for their unrelenting efforts to empower students and informed the gathering that his government will in the next financial year, double bursaries from Ksh. 5 Million to 10 Million per ward.

The County Executive Committee member for Education Mr. Mangale Ndegwa, said his department will continue working closely with KWEA to uplift education standards in Kwale. He informed the meeting that his ministry had established a program dubbed Elimu ni Sasa Initiative which has implemented the provision of bursaries and scholarships for several students in Kwale.

Also present was the Country Director of Education who is also KWEA patron Mr. Juma Mwatenga, the CEC for Lands, Mining and Natural Resources Mr. Ali Mwafimbo and his Community Development counterpart Patrick Mtsami. Others included the CEC Trade, Industry and Investments Ms Safina Tsungu and a host of senior government officials.

Professors Hamadi Boga and Halimu Shauri represented Taita Taveta and Pwani Universities respectively. Other institutions represented included, Barclays Bank, KCB, Kenya Maritime Authority, Moi University, MKU, UoN, MTTC –Msambweni and Kwale among others. Several secondary schools and NGOs were also represented.

 

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The Suggestion by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) that teachers should have a code of conduct is long overdue

Teachers should take this in good faith. The proposal should be viewed from a much broader perspective including 1) what inspired the decision 2) how it will impact on the state of education 3) what is going to be done to ensure that the regulations are adhered to by the teachers and lastly 4) how the suggested regulations are going to be enforced and sustained.

That the teaching profession is noble is not in doubt. Given the importance of the profession, developing sound policies to safeguard it should be the desire of every progressive society. The Kenyan teacher is arguably one of the poorest paid and perhaps the most economically disadvantaged. This is evident in the numerous industrial strikes the teachers have taken part in virtually every year to demand for the improvement of their welfare by the TSC. Despite the regular strikes however, the teachers’ employer has not been able to come up with a conclusive remedy for their plight.

Kwale Teacher 2Consequently, the teachers have opted to engage in all manner of economic activities to supplement their meager wages-a scenario that has seen a big number of them taking more time doing their own businesses than undertake services for which they are employed.

The result of this has been perennial poor academic performance by a number of schools in different parts of the country. Though the lackluster academic record of some of those dismally performing schools is attributed to other factors, teacher absenteeism or technical appearance at school due to engagement elsewhere can be avoided. And there’s no better way of doing so than putting in place some tough rules for the teachers.

There are also other issues such as indiscipline and immoral behaviors among teachers which is manifest in having sexual relationships with pupils/students and which have in many occasions resulted in cases of unplanned pregnancies among the female learners. Cases of corporal punishment that have also ended up in serious injuries or deaths rightfully justify the need for stringent code of conduct to govern the day to-day-engagement of the membership of the teaching fraternity.

Indeed a number countries including those in Europe, Asia and America have detailed policies and legislation to oversight the teachers’ conduct. Though many of such countries have dwelt on the teachers’ moral behavior and dressing code, they have not expressly given the teachers permission to engage in activities that would put paid to their professionalism like indulging in other economic activities.

However, the tough rules cannot bear fruits in the absence of improved welfare for the teachers. If the profession is as noble as it is believed to be, then the TSC must jealously guard its employees’ welfare and interests.

In California State in the US, there is a teachers’ code of regulations. “A certificated person (teacher) shall not use for his/her own private gain or advantage the time, facilities, equipment, or supplies which is the property of his/her employer without the express or clearly implied permission of his/her employer” says a section of the code.

Kwale Teacher 4Closer home in Rwanda, the government has put in place a national policy on teacher development and management – a comprehensive document which provides a detailed guideline on the teacher training, remuneration and general welfare as well as the penalties against those entrusted with the implementation of the policy in the event of professional misconduct or negligence.

Indeed, a committed teacher, whose commitment is evident in the results his /her students obtain, definitely needs an equally generous employer to reciprocate their efforts. The commission must therefore up its game to ensure that teacher’s welfare is not defined by the salary he earns alone.
Even as it comes up with the code of conduct, TSC must review some of its policies and create a suitable environment for the teacher to work in and reward hard-working teachers with extra emoluments outside the salaries and loans.

Why for instance, is it necessary to buy cars for members of parliament who work “reasonably” for only three days a week and fail to do the same to a teacher who goes to school six days a week and works extra hours nearly every day?

If this and many other questions are answered, even the Kwale teachers who have threatened to disobey the proposed regulations would have a more positive view of the teaching profession. A contented servant will always undertake his duty with unrivaled passion hence impressive output.

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Head teacher Mr. Mwakaga Zecha requested KWEA officials to help

The administration of Menzamwenye Primary School in Dzombo Ward has admitted that its pupils have difficulties speaking or writing in the English language. Speaking during a motivational talk event conducted by Kwale Welfare and Education Association (KWEA) in the school last Saturday, the head teacher Mr. Mwakaga Zecha requested KWEA officials to help the school devise a strategy to help the pupils develop a liking for the subject.

“All examiAdministration of Menzamwenye Primary School in Dzombo Wardnable subjects except Kiswahili are set in English; so if the learners are weak in the subject, they’re not likely to register good results in the other subjects,” pleade Mr. Zecha.

KWEA works with sampled schools in the four sub-counties of Lunga-Lunga, Msambweni, Matuga and Kinango with the objective of helping the learners improve in their academic development. The organization’s chairperson Mr. Masoud Ramadhani Bungale assured the pupils that KWEA will do what it can to ensure that the school improved in the county and national grading.

He said his organization was currently collecting books including English story books which will soon be distributed to various schools. “As a matter of fact, we’ve earmarked Menzamwenye Primary school as the launching pad of our book distribution exercise,” said Bungale.

Three top class eight pupils were rewarded by the chairperson for impressive performance in the KWEA exam that the school undertook last term. The trio, Praise Mwikali, Chaka Tsuma and Abubakar Nzaphila Mbetsa scored 367, 348 and 337 respectively. Female pupils in classes six, seven and eight also benefitted from free sanitary towels donated by KWEA. A similar exercise was also conducted in Menzamwenye and Shimoni Secondary schools.

KWEA is engaged in a series of activities to uplift the standard of education in Kwale schools. The organization comprising mainly young graduates who went to school under challenging environments works closely with the local leadership and the private sector to accomplish its objective.

Last December, KWEA secured a place in history as the first organization to successfully organize a charity walk to raise funds to support the girl child. The exercise earned the admiration of various county leaders led by Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya and a host of elected leaders.

Last April, the organization in collaboration with Gombato Ward Representative Omari Iddi Boga organized an educational symposium at Gombato Secondary school where more than two hundred secondary and university graduates converged. The students were addressed by among others, Prof. Hamadi Boga (Taita Taveta University College), Prof Halimu Shauri and Mr. Musa Yeya both of Pwani University.

The KWEA has also organized a career exhibition which will be held at Matuga Girls High School on June 7th this year.

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While others are evacuating toursists from our country – the German Tourism Keyplayer DER TOURISTIK is inversting in Kenya´s Education.

“ Give education a home “

The DER Touristik has set itself the goal for 2014, to initiate the construction and expansion of schools in countries where children and young people better education and thus require future opportunities in particular. Here, the company is working with the Reiner Foundation Meutsch „Fly & Help“ together. Already since 2010 realized „Fly & Help“ successful worldwide educational projects in close cooperation with local partners. The Foundation can ensure the maintenance of schools and hence the sustainable impact in the long term. The educational institutions completed received state recognition.

DER Touristik is funding these projects, also hotel and travel agency partners of the DER Touristik can join the initiative and support of their contribution to school construction projects. The same applies also for the guests of the tour operators ITS, Jahn Reisen, tjaereborg, Dertour, Meier’s world and ADAC Reisen and customer sales organizations THE travel agency, Derpart, DER Touristik Partner Service and FCm Travel Soluions.

Magunga: Two new pre-schools

Preschools open 3 – to 6-year-olds have better access to education.
With the donation money the DER Touristik support the construction of two preschools in selected primary schools in Magunga and providing them with chairs, tables and teaching materials. Construction will begin in April 2014.

Nakuru: Construction of a primary school

For years, the pre-school „Mirisa Academy“ offers 90 children the best conditions for entry into school education.
Now be followed by a Primary School with eight classrooms, an administrative wing, small playing field and playground. With the donation money the DER Touristik financed a building with two classrooms. It was completed in February 2014.
Status Completed: 100 percent
Committed WORLDS
(In a slum of Nakuru, a town northeast of the capital Nairobi, two new classes have already been completed.)
Muthesya: construction of eight new classrooms

With this project, the structural condition and the equipment of the ailing Lulamba Elementary School will be significantly improved: With the donation money the DER Touristik funded the construction of eight new classrooms, the purchase of school desks, teaching and play materials and the improvement of hygienic standards.
Committed WORLDS
( Reiner Meutsch (Fly & Help) and Sören Hartmann and Norbert Fiebig (DER Touristik) surrounded by children.
The earlier of the mountains and sea-based organization managing Meutsch Fly & Help builds and maintains schools worldwide.)

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The 2nd Career Exibition of KEWA will take place on June the 7th at Matuga Girls Highschool.
The aim is to sensitize about the opportunities of higher education.

Date: 7th June 2014

Time: 9.00 am to 4.00pm

Venue: Matuga Girls High School


KWEA (Kwale Welfare and Education Association), is a community based organization formed by young university graduates from  Kwale county.

The young and dynamic professionals were driven by their passion for development in their community, yet had been rather pained by persistent poor academic performance in the county that has deteriorated to shameful levels. The desire to form a platform that would spur development in Kwale County was born in early 2009 and the idea of KWEA CBO was consequently championed and realized then.

The name KWEA is symbolic. It is a Swahili word denoting ‘CLIMB’, meaning the upward mobility, and connoting the progressive movement and development of a people’.

The members are carefully selected volunteers with academic success stories accomplished through a lot of financial challenges due to poor backgrounds. This is to ensure that their stories inspire young learners in a bid to change their attitude towards the learning process.

KWEA - 2nd Career Exhibition Invitation

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Social Media Fundraiser Donates Desks to a Kwale School

“I’ve never seen anything like this all my life.” Those were the words Maropheropheni Primary School head teacher Salim Rashid Charo uttered, when a pick-up mounted with desks arrived in his school shortly after 10:00.

Desk-Donation
More dramatic was the reaction of the 196 pupils, who were playing during break time. The excited pupils ran around the school in a frenzied cacophony of joy, abandoning the makeshift balls they were kicking and throwing, to welcome the white Toyota pick-up whose carrier protruded with brown, polished, wooden desks.
It was a historic moment that was punctuated by a heavy downpour that incidentally engulfed only Ropheropheni village, leaving out the neighbouring Kilimangodo and Mangulu areas dry and dusty. The joy and happiness in the faces of pupils, teachers and school management committee was real. “What you’ve done shows just how unity of purpose can take this community to higher heights of development,” said Salim Tsuma Ngao, parent and village chairman. For close to a decade, pupils of Maropheropheni Primary School in Lunga-Lunga Constituency, Kwale County have been learning in dilapidated, unfurnished mud-walled structures. A good number of them, especially those in the lower primary sit under the trees on stones and a slab for a writing wall. The floors are dusty and may easily turn into breeding ground for jiggers. But according to the head teacher, Salim Rashid Charo, the problem of jigger infestation has never been experienced at the institution. But what happened today in the school may just be the beginning of a significant change in the lives of the 196 pupils of the school. For the first time since the school was established in 2006, 30 pupils will abandon the stones and make-shift desks to sit on real desks. This is following an on-line campaign that culminated in a funds-drive after which cash was raised to purchase fifteen desks and transported to the school by well-wishers comprising social media users. The informal group operating under the facebook group names of Kwale County Government Information Centre and Kwale County Youth Forum raised more than Ksh 40,000 in the month of March 2014 after the issue was highlighted by Mahmoud Barroh, a human rights activist known by his facebook friends as Jaz C Pytone. The initiative was taken up by Swaleh Mambeya who mobilized facebook users in the two groups. Located forty kilometers from Kenya Loma- a tiny trading centre on the Ramisi- Lunga-Lunga highway, the school is tucked away in an out-of-place end of the vast Mwereni Ward having started as a feeder school for the nearby Mtumwa and Magombani Primary schools.

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Why Schools In Coast Posted Poor Exam Results

The 2011 K.C.P.E results sent shockwaves with the placement of five out of six coastal counties at the bottom of the list. And as has been the trend, public schools in Coast region were once again caught napping. Despite the dismal performance by the entire region except Mombasa, it would only be fair to appreciate that each county has its own peculiar challenges and that such challenges can only be addressed by the leaders and residents of the affected county.

Take KwalePoor Exam Results in Kwale county for example. The county boasts of enormous natural wealth, some of which are either known, recently discovered or still hidden beneath the earth. Tourism—one of the major economic activities which earns Kenya a substantial share of foreign income is concentrated in Kwale’s Tiwi, Diani, Galu Kinondo, Chale, Funzi and Wasini islands, to name but a few.

A recent study carried out in the vast county presents mouth-watering revelations. In Poverty in the midst of wealth: The Case of Natural Resources in Coast Province, Ilishe Trust—a Mombasa based civil society organization, identifies Kwale as the second wealthiest county in terms of natural resources in the entire coast province after Taita Taveta. Some of such resources are concealed in land, water, wildlife, fishery, mining and forestry. Whether these resources are managed with the bias to improving the livelihood of the Kwale communities and how their availability affects the education development of potential beneficiaries is a story for another day.

Early in the year, Uwezo Kenya—a non governmental organization, conducted a national survey to assess the literacy and numeracy levels of children aged between 6 to 16 years. The study had damning revelations. Released in the second half of 2011, the report bears a very close relationship with this year’s KCPE results in the manner of ranking.

For example, Kirinyaga County which topped in this year’s national ranking appeared third nationally in the Uwezo-Kenya report after Nairobi and Mombasa in that order. At number 7 out of 47 counties, Taita Taveta came second in coast, followed by Lamu (13), Kilifi (18), Tana River (29), while Kwale held the tail end at position 36. The ranking was based on class 3 pupils who could do class 2 English, Kiswahili and Mathematics.

According to the report, nine out of ten children in class 3 cannot read a class 2 story written in English in Kwale; neither can 3 out of 4 children in class 3 do class 2 divisions. The report also indicates that the proportion of out of school children in Kwale is higher than the national average.

“Learning levels are very low. Only 1 out of 10 class 3 children can read class 2 story,” reveals the report. Learner absenteeism, says the report, is also very high. “Nearly half of the children are missing school daily,” says the report. The report titled: Are our children learning also indicates that the percentage of girls and boys aged between six and sixteen years who can do class two work is 41% and 48% respectively. While the Ilishe report advocates empowering the communities and establishing effective structures to safeguard ownership and exploitation of natural resources in the region, the Uwezo report urges all stakeholders to read, get informed, discuss, take action and make the difference.

Whereas the recommendations of the two organizations may not be the panacea to the challenges Kwale and Coast in general is facing, there is need to start from somewhere. One fact must not be taken for granted: Some of the most highly educated Kenyans hail from Kwale’s three constituencies of Matuga, Kinango and Msambweni. This challenge should therefore be taken up by Kwale professionals caucus whose membership comprises respected men and women both in the public and private sector.

As stake-holders in various parts of the country ponder on what steps to take after the not very good results nationally, all leaders in Coast region should perhaps start by addressing issues raised in the Uwezo-Kenya report as one way of enhancing education standard in the six counties.

Political and religious leaders must take the initiative of restoring confidence of the coastal residents that their children are no different from the others in the rest of Kenya. As much as it is important to advocate for land rights, it is equally imperative to look at the education sector. Let the parents, seek explanations from the schools about why things are the way they are. Let there be a consultative relationship between all parties. Otherwise, with its vast wealth of natural resources, the region needs an educated population more than it needs anything else.