Education, in its entirety, is one of the fundamental pillars of a progressive society. An educated population is in many cases perceived as not only developmental but also enlightened in the ways of the modern world. It is fair to say that formal education has become a basic need in our present world.
Since March 2014, Education Effect Africa has been working with the schools in the semi-arid areas of Mbita in Homa Bay County to ensure that young children in the region have access to quality early childhood education and care. The activities initiated have revolved around but not limited to creating awareness on the importance of Early Childhood Education and why parents and the community need to embrace this as an important step towards accessing quality education.
Education Effect Africa, through the project: "ECD CHANUKA!" has made tremendous effort toward addressing the problem of truancy that is affecting access to quality education in the area. Children start school but drop out or are not able to continue due to various reasons. The modal reason for this is lack of funds to cater for the children's academic needs that is instigated by high poverty levels.
'Bamba Kumi' initiative at Kirambo
'Bamba kumi' is a Swahili phrase that means 'take ten'. The essence of this initiative is to have parents contribute to a pool of funds that would pay the fee of most disadvantaged children in the community. In this scheme, each of the parents was to contribute KES 10 every week towards the pool. In this way, it was expected that the treasurer- Mrs Bosibori- would receive at least
KES 320 at the end of every week. This would be enough to pay the termly fee of two children in need.
A teacher's confession
I had an opportunity to talk to the two ECDE teachers; Mrs Mary Orwa and Madam Carren Bosibori. Both teachers are exuberant about the scheme and confess that it is slowly but surely picking up. Madam Bosibori, who is the treasurer, confesses that the kitty has been able to pay fee for five children already who are now regularly attending school.
Average school attendance has shot from the regular 11 pupils to 34 pupils in the second part of the second term. The teachers are optimistic that through this scheme, they will be able to employ an assistant teacher to help them as they are only two in the school currently. This will go a long way towards boosting the quality of education and care in the school so as to ensure that the children are nurtured into healthy, literate and responsible members of the Kirambo community.
Most importantly, the scheme has boosted the feeding program in the school that was slowly starting to diminish. The monies received through the initiative have been used to buy cereals and sugar that are used to prepare porridge for the ECD children during their long break. Through this feeding program, the children have become encouraged to stay in school as they do not remain hungry.
What better way to exploit the spirit of Ubuntu that the parents possess in order to improve access to education?