Developed state of technology, good governance and quality education they say, is the perfect recipe for building strong and powerful nations.
Today we’re in the midst of witnessing big and powerful nations become even more indestructible and their secret weapon of choice are their talented and educated citizens who are contributing in large numbers to their GDPs.
In Economics, it is even said that the presence of the aforementioned three variables can help in making a developing nation, developed.
However, without one of these important variables it seems downright impossible to achieve the other two. And that oh-so-important variable is none other than education.
Located in the city of Nairobi in Kenya, is a dynamic organisation which is aiming towards educating 200 children from the slums of Nairobi. The organization is called Progressive Volunteers (www.progressivevolunteers.or.ke) and their goal is to not only help education reach the remotest corner of the city but to also help in the all round development of the children studying in their schools through ingenious community participation programmes and encouraging talents of the youngsters.
I came across this wonderful organisation in April of 2015 when I registered myself with the UN Online Volunteering Programme. Since then, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to speak to one of the members of the organization, Mr. Jeremiah Mzee, who is also coordinating the Education Project in Nairobi. His dedication for the cause is unparalleled. In his efforts to make education the epitome, he has reached out to volunteers and supporters all over the world and has managed to raise $6645 through combined efforts. He is still working hard on his objectives and is looking to raise $2855 additionally, to help the project gain a strong foundation.
The following is an excerpt of an enlightening conversation with Mr. Mzee:
1) Can you tell us what motivated you to initiate the Education Project in Nairobi? What are your thoughts on the current state of education in Nairobi?
I have lived in this community since 2006 and so many challenges facing the residents are brought by poor education of its people. There are few public primary and secondary schools in the informal settlements of Nairobi. Children who attend the Informal schools face many challenges in trying to get a quality education. The root of the problem is a lack of learning resources and large number of students in these schools with few teaching staff, which leads to poor quality education. This has partly been an unintended consequence of Kenya’s success in increasing primary and secondary school enrollment. These schools are severely under-resourced and understaffed. The teacher student ratio is 1:40. Most of the teachers are high school graduates who are looking for something to do as they wait to join colleges/university. The teacher student ratio shows that although the children have access to an education, it is substandard.
These non-formal schools also lack adequate facilities such as toilets and water for washing hands. This makes personal hygiene a very big issue. Most of the pupils lack school fees and essentials (uniform, textbooks, and writing materials) and this has brought about a high drop-out rate, especially at the beginning and at the end of the school term.
2) How would you say that the Education Project by Progressive Volunteers is going to help solve this problem?
To help solve the education problem in the informal settlements of Nairobi, Progressive Volunteers has come up with an educational program to address some of the challenges that these schools and students face. The organization has come up with a teaching and mentorship program that uses mentors and teaching assistants to teach and guide students towards improved education. Our teams of volunteers will provide additional support to over-stretched teaching staff providing teaching assistance, distributing reading materials, individually supporting the children in most need through mentorship, and organizing extra-curricular activities such as sports clubs, drama and edutainment.
The Mentoring Program is designed to provide the students with supplemental academic support while also building their self-esteem, life skills, and confidence. Some of the topics our mentorship program will include are; career and character education, personal hygiene, effects of early pregnancies, self empowerment, drugs and alcohol abuse, self-esteem, improving personal control and awareness issues on health, environment, gender among others.
3) In what manner, will raising of funds help in discharging the same?
Raising of funds will enable the project carry out the following activities;
Purchase 1000 books for the Ruaraka community library. This will benefit school children, youth out of school and general public.
Recruit 30 volunteer mentors to mentor in 20 schools with a total population of 5650 students.
Recruit 70 volunteer teachers/ teaching assistants for 20 schools with a total population of 5650 students.
Purchase school kits and essentials for 450 students
4) Can you tell us of an instance which has been your most inspiring moment throughout this journey?
The most inspiring moment throughout this journey of educating slum children is meeting people/volunteers with great passion in volunteering; always ready to help me meet the local needs of the deprived communities in Kenya. It reminds me that the importance of education is universally accepted.
Another inspiring moment is making a difference in the lives of young people in my community. To see them learning and growing is truly inspiring. They keep me motivated and sojourning on in life.
5) What is the current development of the Education Project? How many objectives has the Education Project been able to achieve?
Currently Progressive Volunteers have seven partner schools; 4 primary schools and 3 secondary schools and would like to increase the number of partner schools to 20.
Again, 125 school children have directly benefited from our services. Progressive Volunteers has individually supported school the children in this area who most need mentorship and training children. Some of the objectives met by the education project include:
Support to four non-formal schools; Emmaus Education Centre, Precious Kids Academy, Lucy Education Centre and Glorious Friends High School in Ruaraka with 352 reading books.
PV establishing a small community library in 2011 with over 2000 reading books.
Purchased school kits and classroom essentials for 125 children.
Mobilized 15 mentors and 36 volunteer teachers to teach and carry out targeted mentorship for children in seven non-formal schools.
Established 18 reading clubs in eight informal schools in Ruaraka.
6) Do you sense a heightened awareness about education since the project came into place? Can you share an instance with us?
There is still a considerable lack of awareness on the importance of the education of young people in my community. My country, Kenya, in particular lack relevant technologies and goodwill to do this. Through this education project, we have tried to create more awareness to the rest of the world through social media and online fundraising platforms. I am sure to date, our project has reached over 200,000 people with the information about the educational challenges we experience here in Kenya.
7) How can we help in advancing the cause of the Education Project? How can we donate towards the cause?
We would like to achieve the funding goal of the project by soliciting the help of supporters to market and advocate for the project funding through social media by virtue of sharing more information about the project.
We are currently looking to raise an additional $2855 and I believe that through the support of like minded people who believe in advancing the cause of Education – we will soon be able to see our dream come true.
If you would like to donate to our project, you can visit our project donation link at http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/educate-250-slum-children-in-kenya/
Jeremiah and other members, volunteers and supporters of Progressive Volunteers dream of a more developed future for the deprived communities of Kenya . They are leaving no stone unturned in their effort to make education an indispensable part of a child’s life. We wish them the very best in their endeavors and hope to see the children of Nairobi receive the Education they deserve.
To know more about Progressive Volunteers and the Education Project you can follow them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Progressive-Volunteers/211971952184794?ref=hl
Or on their Twitter