In late 2006, the Group decided to construct a Secondary School, adjacent to the Got Matar Primary School, on land provided by the community. The aim was to enable children who qualified for entry into secondary school to continue their studies, while staying at home. Because there was no suitable school within walking distance of their homes, most of the 400 children who had passed secondary school entrance exams each year had to drop out of education at the end of the primary school cycle. Only those from relatively well-off families could afford the costs of boarding at more distant schools – and, once qualified, they seldom returned to their communities, creating an effective “brain drain”.
The plan was to construct the school over 4 years – the length of the secondary education course – with an entry of 150 Form 1 students each year. Each year, a block consisting of 3 classrooms and one extra room was completed. In the first year, the “extra” room was a school office and teachers’ room; in the second, a library; the third, a small science laboratory, and the fourth, a computer training centre.
The Group, under the leadership of its founder and coordinator, Mrs. Grace Ochieng Andiki, displayed exceptional efficiency in getting the school up and running. Within 3 months of the decision to go ahead, the first building had been completed, teachers recruited and 112 children enrolled. Ninety-four of these students “graduated” in late 2010, and several have already gone on to university! Overall, the school’s academic performance is encouraging. In 2010, it ranked 15th amongst the 25 secondary schools in Bondo District in terms of Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education KCSE) exam scores, while it rose to 10th in 2011.
The school is managed by the Department of Education.
Since the completion of the core facilities in 2010, other buildings have been added. These include several teachers’ houses and a large science laboratory, financed with local resources. National sources have also paid for a mains electricity connection. The first phase of the girls’ dormitory was completed in 2015 with funding from the Australian NGO, Bricks & Cartwheels.
The school’s development plan gives priority to the construction of an administration block, including teachers’ rooms, a covered dining area and the second phase of the girls’ dormitory, bringing its capacity up to 180 pupils.
Institute of Technology
From the outset of the programme, it had been planned to provide training for students in practical skills. It did not prove possible, however, to integrate this with a very full secondary school curriculum, and so the Group eventually decided to create a separate Institute of Technology (IoT) to provide vocational training to school leavers and other adults in the community. Operating largely in rented buildings, it started offering a 2-year diploma course in sewing and tailoring in 2010. The IoT now also provides training in woodwork and furniture making, metalwork, masonry, cooking and catering, and computer use. It also manages a women’s centre at which short-term courses, as well as the computer training, are run. The aim is that the IoT should become self-financing from fees and the sale of goods and services, but this will take time, given the very low purchasing power of the local population and the very high product standards demanded in the international fair trade market.Institute of Technology Prospectus (pdf)
Currently over 100 students attend IoT courses. The plan is to broaden the range of training courses offered and to increase annual student intake to 100, resulting in a total of 200 students. A site of 6 acres, next to the secondary school, has been provided by the Community, where purpose-built workshops and classrooms will be built, as resources become available. The first phase of construction and equipment is estimated to cost Euro 260,000 of which Euro 10,000 has so far been spent on site development.
The IoT has been registered with the Ministry of Education, but will be run as private enterprise by the GMCDG. It is a member of Kenya Federation of Alternative Trade (KEFAT), the national network of fair trade businesses. It is envisaged that that the IoT would continue to provide design, procurement and marketing assistance services for graduates who set themselves in business.
Drinking Water Supply
Finally, the Group has begun to plan for a safe drinking water supply system for about 10,000 people living in East Yimbo. According to preliminary designs, the water would be pumped from Lake Victoria and distributed through “kiosks” in the main areas of concentration of population. The costs would be about Euro1,000,000. Preliminary discussions have been held with K-REP Bank, which finances community-run water projects, and meetings have been held with villagers throughout the area in order to confirm their interest and their capacity to meet water costs.
An immediate, less ambitious, option now being considered by the GMCDG is to provide mains water supplies to the hill-top site on which the primary and secondary schools, the IoT and the clinic are located. This would involve a pumping station and 3km pipeline.