We have completed two days teaching at Irbann Primary School in Masailand. The school has 7 classes, one room for each Standard (grade). There are 60 students in Class 6, but Gail has reported they are all very well-behaved and focused on her lessons. The youngest class we are working with is Class 3 with 66 students and Jennifer is finding them equally intent on learning. Graham has it easy with only 24 students in Class 8. Our initial lessons are designed as a Compare and Contrast activity, for example Kenya and Canada, but with differing levels of detail and understanding expected according to age or development. Writing activities and oral reading has also been used in most classes by the Canadian teachers, giving us an initial glimpse into student performance. One of the Kenyan teachers declared “I can see what you’re doing. I can do this”, after a word-sort activity to introduce new vocabulary and using the Know-Wonder-Learn strategy. Another successful strategy we have used is Reader’s Theatre, which is a way to read a story orally with expression, giving students a voice like in a theatrical performance.
Irbann Primary School is a boarding school with many students coming a significant distance to attend, due to its reputation. It is a public school that has been well-served by its administrator and teachers. Donor groups, including A Better World, Canada, have made a significant contribution to this school’s infrastructure and resources. It us clear that such assistance is ‘a hand up’. A good example of this is the creation of the school garden two years ago. We saw older students working cooperatively to carry water from the nearby creek and hand it over the fence in buckets to water the parched soil. A wonderful crop of tomatoes, melons, eggplant, kale and other veggies filled the enclosure. Elephants and zebras have been a menace but an electric fence will soon be constructed.
Joseph has successfully introduced the Eneza Education program to Class 8 and Class 7. The challenge here is that we don’t yet have the government approved SIM cards and he must borrow SIMs from each of us and the teachers in order to get enough phones up and running. Some of the SIM cards don’t have enough money in their account (evidence of low paid teachers) but Joseph was able to use a really cool feature of the Safaricom Network to run a mini-network called ‘Sambaza’ from one of our phones loaded with enough in its account.