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This is
the Oloo Children Centre

The nearly four hundred students at 'Oloo Children Centre' have in common that they live in Kibera. And the school is located in that (slum) district. The pupils can enter the Pre-Primary school from the age of four (compare with
junior high or the first two years of primary education). For children from the age of six, the real primary education starts, which then lasts another eight years. They complete this at the age of fourteen by obtaining the 'Kenya Certificate of Primary Education'.
There are also children who are older than six when they start. At school it is checked which class they can handle and they are placed there. The school tries to keep all children in at least up to and including the final exam. The certificate is an indispensable admission ticket for further education.

School starts for everyone at half past eight in the morning. The little ones from the Pre-Primary School go home at three o'clock. For children from six years, grade 1, there is school from 8.30 am to 5 pm.  Classes are held six days a week. There is no school on Saturday afternoon. In addition to the lessons, children at school also receive a 'warm' lunch and sometimes a snack. (Concentrating is difficult with a growling stomach.) There are also three cooks attached to the school to prepare lunch.

Introducing some of the school's students:

The students

Roses Shaniz

is a 12-year-old girl who is in seventh grade (seventh standard or grade); comparable to the bridge class with us. Rozen lives alone with her mother (Christien) and she has no brothers or sisters. Her grandmother, after whom she is named, lives with nieces and nephews outside Nairobi in the countryside. Very occasionally they visit there; big party. 

 

Her mother had a job as a hairdresser, but not anymore since corona. Now and then she earns some money from the odd jobs she does. The mother herself went to school for a few years but did not finish school. She can help Rozen with homework. 
Rozen is in the third year at the school and started in class five. Her favorite subject is arithmetic/mathematics. But 'learning' is her hobby anyway. If the school wasn't there she would do it too. A lot more difficult than because she herself does not have a telephone or books and then would have to borrow everything. The school is great because she can learn a lot and gets a lot of 'support' from the teachers and the director. She also needs that because she wants to be a neurosurgeon. To learn more about a hospital, she has already visited the hospital with a teacher from the school.

Mitchell Ouma

is fifteen and in the last year (8th grade) of school. She has been at this school since she was 7 years old so has attended all the years. Now she is preparing for the final exam (Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE)). That's hard work for her. 2020 was of course a difficult year because the school closes almost all year. She has studied as much as possible by watching a lot of an educational channel on TV. She likes world orientation subjects (science) the most and especially everything about the human body (biology). She wants to be a flight attendant for Kenya Airways. She visited the airport with a teacher from the school to see a plane up close. 
 

Mitchel lives next door to the school with her mother and a total of five brothers and sisters. She is the second oldest. Her father lives elsewhere. She knows him but because of domestic violence her parents have moved to live separately. Her youngest sister of ten also attends the school. Her mother is a day labourer. Sometimes there is work, more often not. 
School is great because of the support it gets from everyone and of course the fun things you learn there.

The teachers

The school employs 24 teachers who have completed their training at the Kenyan teacher training college (similar to the Dutch system). They are both group teacher and subject teacher. We introduce Billy Wasonga.

Billy Wasonga

has been working at this school for twelve years. When he started, the school had been in existence for three years. The fact that he started working there and also wants to continue working has a lot to do with the great leadership at the school. He feels seen and heard by director and initiator Judy Oloo. But especially because he finds colleagues and opportunities within the school who share his mission for the society in which he lives. The school can and must make a difference for the children growing up in Kibera. Within Oloo Children Center there are people and circumstances who together stand for that task: ensure that the children outgrow Kibera and can develop in such a way that they have a future that is different from that of their parents; usually from their mother. He wants to commit himself to that and that is worth more than a somewhat higher regular income and a permanent job at a public school.  An important part of Oloo Children Center is that they do more than what school theoretically stands for. Children from Kibera also need more because they receive very little from home. Even children who try very hard need extra help. The school tries to offer that and to support children as widely as possible in their development. Very practical means, for example, going on an excursion with children to places outside Kibera. Billy takes children to the park or to museums or to a location that suits the profession they want to pursue. Theory alone is not enough for that. That is precisely why drama and music are taught at school and a lot of sports. In addition, there are activities such as 'girls talk', 'health club' and a lot of manual labour. Children can also make their own choices for these 'non-exam subjects'. Not everyone likes sports or talking as much! 
Like his colleagues, Billy thinks it is especially important that girls receive education. The chance that they will become pregnant very young is smaller if they go to school. Corona has made that painfully clear once again. Precisely for this reason, there was as much contact as possible with students during the compulsory school closure (lock down). They got a meal and that made them come to school anyway. 
Students talk about respect for each other, but also for yourself and your own body. Conversations are about their (life) career and what they can achieve with education. The influence of the school is limited, but it is there and girls certainly feel supported by it. The influence is greater if there is a good and trusted relationship with the students. They need to feel seen, heard and missed.  
Pupils are helped in looking for a school for further education. In Kenya, a few years of further education (vocational or general education) is crucial for getting a permanent job. Cognitive capacities influence the choice that is made, but it is even more about making contact with schools for further education. If possible, that school outside Kibera will be sought so that children can also become acquainted with that other world for their daily activities. 
Continuing education is not free and requires a relatively large contribution from parents who are usually not there. Oloo Children Center saves for this and tries to support financially where possible. Schools within Kibera are cheaper than those outside it, so the financial options certainly influence the choice made. 
What is special is that he sees in individual pupils that the school has meant a lot to them. They return to school after their further education outside Kibera; to visit, but also to contribute in turn to education. Ultimately, those students will take over his assignment. He sees that they have become something, and that's why he does it.

History

More about the history of the foundation here soon.

Image by Virgyl Sowah
Image by bennett tobias

Kibera

Soon more information about Kibera here.

The education system

Soon here more information about the education system in Kenya.

Image by Aaron Burden
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