As a teacher who is currently not teaching, I have a lot of pent up teacher energy that needs to go somewhere productive!
This is why I am volunteering with a local school called Acacia Hill Academy. The school is located in the local village just outside the conservancy, only about 20 minuted drive away.
Locally owned and run
The school is privately owned by a local Maasai called Johnson he had donated some of his land for the school to be located, hired teachers, built classrooms and is overseeing the running of the school.
There are currently 4 classrooms and 4 teachers. Each year as the school grows there will be a new classroom built. The school is quite new and are still finding its feet but it is a great start. The school was built out of the frustrations of parents and their wish for smaller classes and higher quality education. The school aims to keep the numbers of students low so that the quality of one to one tuition can remain high. Currently, there are only 21 children attending the school. The problem with this, however, is that means there are not a lot of school fees coming in to be able to pay for teachers salaries and accommodation, food for the students, textbooks etc.
Aims and objectives
The academy only hires local teachers from the same village and aims to educate the children, not just in traditional education but also in issues regarding conservation, wildlife and tourism. Given their proximity to the Wildlife Conservancy, these children are likely to be the next generation of rangers, guides, managers, waiters, house keekers etc in the tourism and conservation industry so it is important to teach them the value and importance of these industries from an early age.
How am I helping?
My aims are to support the school in reaching its objectives. This for a start has been in a simple way of helping to decorate the new classrooms. I have been painting educational content on the classroom walls to aid in their teaching. I am also helping to support the teachers with their teaching methods and just supporting them in their delivery in particular in the delivery of physical education which is not always a priority in local schools.
Goals for the future
We have many goals for the future and of course, the wish list is great, but the number one priority is to make the school sustainable. At the moment the school is relying on donors to help build the classrooms and pay the teachers salaries but this is not sustainable in the long run. Many parents cannot afford to pay the school fees for their children. This means there is not enough money to pay the teaches salaries, for food for the students or to build further classrooms, by textbooks etc.
As you see providing high-quality education is not as simple as building a new school, there are many and far-reaching consequences and of course benefits. Without also educating and providing opportunities for the adults they will not be able to pay for the education for their children. The priority, therefore, is finding a way to provide opportunities for the parents, thus enabling them to pay school fees and therefore teachers salaries etc. Thus securing the future of the school for the next generations.
In the future, the school wishes to add more classrooms and of course, teachers as the needs increase. They also wish to erect a security fence around the school to ensure the safety of the children.
As a PE teacher myself, I understand the importance of physical education and I aim to be able to create a football and netball pitch on the property to give the students and the surrounding community somewhere to safely play sport, be active and stay healthy. I also wish to provide the adults with further education by running evening classes, this should help increase their employment chances and lead to a better future for their children also.
How can you help?
If you have a trip planned to Kenya and have extra room in your luggage, one of the easiest ways you can help is by bringing over provisions. The following are always of use
- clothes, shoes, trainers
- school supplies – textbooks, exercise books, stationery, educational posters etc
- sports equipment footballs, netballs, nets, rackets etc
- sports kits, particularly football and netball
- toys, educational resources
Maybe you are coming on a trip and have a particular skill you are willing to spend time sharing and educating others about. Maybe you wish to organise a trip specifically to help and volunteer, if so get in contact and I can help organise that for you. Can you hold a fundraising event or collect donations from your community? Maybe you are in charge of the charitable arm of your business and are looking for a charity to support. Does your school wish to partner with Acacia Hill Academy as pen pals to learn about their culture, traditions and way of life? Maybe you have been involved in projects like this before and have some advice?
If there is any way you can help please do not hesitate to reach out and get in contact and we can discuss further.
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