Beatrice had been out of school for two terms and was nervous about going back to school, she didn’t know any of the other kids at the school. Would she make friends?
The Class 4 students were bouncing with excitement waiting for Teacher Esther to call out the next item. “A red book!” she calls, and the children turn running, leaping down from the playground to search for a red book. A few minutes later, the winning child skidded to a halt on the dusty playground shouting ‘bingo!’ holding a red book high in the air.
Teacher Esther was trying out one of the new games she learnt in our latest team training in Accelerated Learning. ZiziAfrique developed the Accelerated Learning Programme for children who have fallen behind in reading and maths. They armed our teachers with new games and activities to keep the children engaged and learning.
Reflecting on the training, Teacher Esther shared how different concepts build upon each other, like climbing a ladder. Through the training, she gained new tools for assessing where children are on that ladder. The ZiziAfrique team showed us how we can use simple items like sticks, stones and chalk grids drawn on the floor to teach.
We work with children who have been out of school for a long time, some have been out of school for years. Catching up in reading and maths is the starting point for catching up in all other subjects. We’re excited to start using our new learning as we open the school and transition programme in January.
Turning Point has been returning out-of-school children to school in Kibera since 2004. Our School Transition Programme is a one-year programme that helps children to catch up on what they’ve missed so they can integrate back into the school system. The children we serve are out of school due to poverty, not forced to stay home by a global pandemic. Coronavirus school closures may only last a few months while some of the children we work with have been out of school for years. We’ve been working with kids on the margins, kids who slipped through the gaps. But now across the world, we find 9 out of 10 school kids are not in school. Out of school is the new norm, at least for a time. As more countries start to reopen schools or make plans to do so, perhaps we have something to share from the years we’ve spent returning children to school. We thought we would pull together some of the lessons we’ve learned from working with out-of-school kids over the last 17 years…
There are more children out of school in Kibera than in the rest of Nairobi. Why is this happening? Let’s hear a few stories to understand why.
There are so many people living in the slums that the nearby public schools are packed with kids. Brian shared a classroom with 50 other students, all vying for one teacher’s attention. This did not suit Brian at all. Brian is super high energy and gets bored easily. He often missed school, fell behind his peers and eventually dropped out of school. Brian’s worried mother brought him to Turning Point.
“Welcome, welcome! Please have a seat!” the mother excitedly greeted us as we squeezed through her half-open doorway. If we had opened it any further, it would have fallen off its hinges. I squashed onto a seat next to social worker Margaret, our knees touching the bed in front of us.
Once a year, Margaret and Daniel, our social workers, visit the home of every child in our programmes to conduct a home study. It is a chance to catch up on how the family are doing and see first-hand their home situation. Last week I joined them as they went house to house in Laini Saba.
You may well have seen the words ‘Back to School’ a lot recently as kids prepared for another year of reading, writing and arithmetic. New uniforms, new shoes, the all-important new pencil case! Well Globalgiving are giving us an opportunity to help send some more kids back to school this September. From the 24th to 28th of September they are running a campaign to match your first donation when you start a monthly donation to Turning Point through GlobalGiving.
The new year is always exciting for us at the transition school, we not only welcome new kids to the project but we also celebrate as the kids we had transition to formal primary education.
This year 27 kids out of the 30 chidren have successfully transitioned and Maria is among them. When you meet Maria along the corridors of her new school, Fountain of Hope Primary school, she exudes a gentle confidence. She’s calm yet has blended in with the rest despite her being the new kid in Class 5.
Caro is the prefect for Class 5 at the Fountains of Hope primary school. This twelve-year-old entertains no nonsense and her peers call her ‘the governor’. Caro is the youngest of four siblings who lost their parents when Caro was very young. They came to live in Kibera with an aunt who already had three children of her own. Her own children suffer with a skin condition that requires frequent treatment and she herself is diabetic. Caro’s aunt is a hero, caring as best she can for seven children in their tiny home in Kibera.
16-year-old Harrison* is the first born of five. Much of his childhood was spent on the Kenyan coast in Mombasa until his father died. His mother sought the help of their grandfather who lives in Kibera and now the five children live in Kibera with their grandad while their mother returned to Mombasa.
When our social workers visited their one-roomed home they found two beds covered in clothes as make-shift mattresses. There was little else in the room – no furniture, no cooking stove. The grandfather would buy food from small cafes and kiosks in the slum as they had nowhere to cook at home.