From dilapidation to academic springboard

Built in the colonial days, condemned buildings meant that pupils of Namahindi Primary School needed urgent intervention for classrooms

The beaming faces of learners usher us into the compound of Namahindi Primary School, an institution tucked in the sleepy hills of Nambale, Busia County.

Before the Foundation’s crew vehicle could even pull over, they were surrounded by about 40 students donning green tunics and white shirts.

There is something inviting about Namahindi. Gradually, the old is giving way to the new.

An outdated block comprising four classrooms was recently brought down to pave way for modern structures. The old bricks are still strewn in the field.

Mr Peter Inganga, the head teacher, explains that it was one of the condemned buildings. “It had developed glaring cracks, posing imminent risk to the innocent learners who are out to quench their thirst for knowledge,” he says.

Safaricom Foundation stepped in to put up a new building as part of a programme to brighten the future of learners from poor backgrounds.

The project was implemented in partnership with Tinga Tinga Tales Foundation and Coca Cola Central, East and West Africa. The three organisations formed a partnership in 2011 that aimed at improving learning environment in primary schools countrywide.

This was one of the projects under the Know and Grow programme, an Education Partnership Programme, which aims to improve the learning standards among the poorest communities in Kenya while paying special focus on Early Childhood Development Education and general sanitation standards in primary schools.

There are 46 schools benefiting from Know and Grow initiative which is also impacting 7,700 beneficiaries.

The programme identifies beneficiary primary schools using the National Poverty Index report (2009), drawing on the analysis indicating that poverty and limited education opportunities are correlated.

Learners from upper primary Namahindi have had a ring-side seat to the transformation.

“We are not able to pay back the good that safaricom foundation has bestowed us.”

“We are not able to pay back the good that Safaricom Foundation has bestowed on us. We can only offer our prayers to God almighty to make the Foundation and the parent company flourish,” Amina Hassan, the school president and Class Seven pupil said.

Her classmate Brian Aringo echoed the sentiment. “The transformation has been real. The only way to appreciate Safaricom Foundation is by excelling in exams,” he said.

Anastasia Milka, who is among those using the new building said they are no longer worried about jigger infestation that she said was rampant before.

Established in 1938 by the Church Mission Society (CMS) in the colonial period, Namahindi has for long been the laughing stock among her peers.

Other than having a consistent reputation of being an academic dwarf, a place for social ills and truant children, there is talk that teachers who have been rejected by other schools for slothfulness found their way here. The trend is changing.

“Discipline is at the core of success of any learning institution. On this, there is no compromise,” the head teacher said.

The school has in the past faced the threat of being closed down by the education and health ministries on account of lacking essential amenities like toilets. The state of affairs back then occasioned a mass exodus to neighbouring schools such as Kisoko and Mungatsi.

But the investment by Safaricom Foundation is already paying off. At the height of the crisis, it had less than 150 students.

Today, the school has a population of 404 pupils excluding 100 from Early Childhood department.

“Last year, we were the second most improved school in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examinations in the county,” Mr George Wandera, the Deputy Head teacher said.

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