So They Can - Supporting children like Veronica
In 2009 So They Can negotiated a Memorandum of Understanding with the Kenyan Government to establish and operate the Aberdare Ranges Primary School as a private/public partnership; the first of its kind for the Kenyan Government. In April 2010, the school opened its doors to 120 wide eyed five year olds, it now has over 700 students who are receiving a quality education and will have 1080 students by 2017 when it will be at full capacity teaching ages 3 through to 13.
Veronica Wanjiru was one of these first students. She was born on 6 December 2003 and lives with her parents, three brothers and three sisters. Veronica thinks Aberdare Ranges Primary School is a beautiful school, and she really wants to learn English and be able to compose stories. When she grows up Veronica would like to be a pilot. Every morning she rushes to the library to start the day by praying then reading something interesting. Veronica is now in the Standard 5 class. In December 2013 the school’s Standard 5 children placed first out of 15 public schools in the district.
The school is located in the rural district of Nakuru, Kenya, 160km north west of Nairobi. It was initially established to meet the critical need for education for the children in the poverty stricken Pipeline Camp that was formed after the 2007 political violence that saw many die and 250,000 become homeless. Over the years as the school has grown it has widened it's scope and now caters to meet the needs of the wider Pipeline community.
Students are selected based on a set criteria designed to determine the poorest children. This includes factors such as their type of abode (i.e. condition of tent), number in their family, number of parents alive, estimated family income and disability issues. By providing a free quality education in partnership with the government and community, we are giving these children hope for a poverty-free, self-sufficient future.
The school currently comprises 19 classrooms, a well-stocked library, administrative office, early childhood playground, sports field, kitchen, toilet blocks, a borehole and rainwater harvest facilities.
So They Can run a nutritional program that provides all of the students with two hot meals a day designed to fulfil their daily nutritional requirements. For many, this is the only food they will receive. They also run a physical education program designed to build awareness of basic health issues and the importance of regular exercise. To ensure a high standard of education, class sizes are kept to 40 students with highly qualified teachers and volunteers. The average teacher to student ratio in other government schools is 54:1.
So They Can’s vision is to keep building the school’s capabilities and educational achievements so that once it is at full capacity in 2017 they can scale up the project and use it as a model school to support other public primary schools in the wider Nakuru district.
Written by Samantha Furey (So They Can - Marketing Communications Manager)