How It Works
The mechanics of our sponsoring system are a bit difficult for people unfamiliar with the Africa’s education systems to understand without some basic information.
The Kenyan Children’s Home System
The Kenyan government orphanages are designed to separate children by age and gender. Nairobi Children’s Home receives both male and female children from all over Kenya who appear to be age six and below. Once the children are roughly six years old, they are separated by gender and transferred to the government homes for older children. The girls move to Machakos Girls Home. The boys move to Thika Boys Home.
The Kenyan School Year
The Kenyan school year is divided into three, three-month terms: January to March, May to July, and September to November. Between each term is a month-long break: April, August, and December. During breaks, students return home to be with families. For the Mugumo kids, “home” is their respective government orphanages. A large part of Charity’s responsibilities is to arrange for the children’s safe transportation from the school to the orphanages and vice versa at the start and end of each break.
In the middle of each term, boarding schools typically host a “Visiting Day,” which allows for parents and family members to come, bring lunch, and visit with their children. This is an opportunity for parents to assess the children’s progress, talk with teachers, walk the school grounds, and just generally check to make sure that everything is going well. For the Mugumo Project, Visiting Day is a massive affair, involving lots of preparation. Charity usually brings along a friend or two who assist her in serving the children a feast of great food, checking on their well being, and conferencing with teachers.
Why Boarding School?
Up until the last few years, education in Kenya was entirely private and, due to a lack of government resources, that has remained the norm for most families. Education is also highly competitive. Test scores at the end of primary school determine the caliber of secondary school a student attends, if he or she is accepted to one at all. The cumulative scoring of schools is published in the national newspapers increasing the competitive atmosphere. Therefore, boarding school is seen as the ideal education situation, providing the student with additional evening and weekend teaching sessions and total immersion in the learning environment. Unlike the elite reputation of boarding schools in the West, attending boarding school from primary to secondary school is very common in Kenya.