The Secondary School
Almost exactly 10 years have passed since I last visited Got Matar to discuss with the Community Development Group their plans for opening up new educational opportunities for their children, many of whom had been orphaned by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. It was agreed that the priority was to construct a secondary school for 600 pupils, building one block of 3 classrooms, each with space for 50 students, in each of the coming 4 years. Each block would include an extra room, to be used as school office, a library, a science laboratory and a computer training laboratory.
Thanks to a lot of hard work by the community and the school staff as well as to the generosity of our supporters, all went according to plan. There is now a thriving school on what was once a bare hill-top (for that is what Got Matar means). Apart from the main classroom block, the government has funded a large science laboratory and teachers’ housing, and Bricks and Cartwheels, an Australian charity, has designed and financed the first phase of the girls’ dormitory. The main donor support for the school is now for 160 bursaries to enable well-qualified children, mostly orphans from very poor families, to attend the school.
The school is now operating at almost full capacity. Results in final school leaving exams have been steadily climbing, making it one of the best performers in the district. Many of the school’s first batch of pupils who left in 2010 have already graduated from universities, teacher training colleges and nursing training institutions! Others are working in the community.
Patrick Drummond, a leading British photographer, who recently visited Got Matar with our friends in Ace Africa, wrote “I was extremely impressed with the Got Matar Secondary School, its students and environs and resources. A truly rare thing in rural Kenya. It will undoubtedly be instrumental in significantly changing lives for many young people.”
Patrick has kindly let us use his photos to help to bring this letter to life. See more photos here.
Here is a picture by him of the girls in their new dormitory! Their bunks were made by the metalwork students of the Institute of Technology (below).
The Institute of Technology
From the outset, the community wanted to create opportunities for young people to be trained in practical skills. Once the secondary school was up to full speed, the community created the Institute of Technology (IoT), initially using rented buildings for its classrooms and workshops. Given a fairly tight funding situation, development has been slower than intended, but now the IoT offers training in dress-making and garment manufacture (2 courses), food and beverage, computer use, woodwork, metalwork, masonry, car mechanics and beauty therapy/hairdressing. Right now there are 99 students, of whom 56 are girls. New purpose-built workshop/class-rooms are nearly complete for 3 of the courses (awaiting electricity connection).
The IoT is a community-run enterprise, aiming to meet its operating costs from a combination of tuition fees and sale of goods and services. The priority is to increase enrolment to 200 students early in 2017 so as to improve the staff-student ratio and thereby reach a financially sustainable situation.
During the year, Ace Africa (Kenya) staff have been working closely with the community to improve its planning and management systems. The community is also collaborating with Teach-a-Man-to-Fish which specialises in helping schools become self-sustaining. We continue to benefit from the engagement of Associazione SONIA in Italy.
For the secondary school, the priorities are to sustain the bursary programme, and to build a second phase of the girls’ dormitory (£30,000).
The IoT aims to move forward as fast as funds permit with building and equipping new workshops. The cost will vary but is expected to average £20,000 each, or a total of £100,000 for 5 new buildings.
We hope very much that our long-term supporters will continue to help this project move forward, and that other people will join us. You can take pride in the knowledge that in just 10 years we have not just constructed buildings but have opened up amazing new opportunities in life for so many young people who have been born into one of the poorest rural districts in Kenya.
If you would like to support education in Got Matar. please download and use the donation forms for Ace Africa (http://www.ace-africa.org/donate/) or SONIA (http://www.associazionesonia.org/en/make-a-donation.html). In either case, please indicate that the donation is for Got Matar. If you want more information, please email me at email@example.com.
The Got Matar Community Development Group badly needs your assistance if it is to achieve its educational goals. Their track record shows that they make good use of your gifts!
With many thanks for all your help and our very best wishes,
Andrew & Roberta MacMillan