MUUTI-O-NTHUNGURI PRIMARY SCHOOL
by Salome Ntinyari
Farmers Helping Farmers Staff Kenya
Muuti-O-Nthunguri primary school is headed by Mr. Gikunda and located approximately 14 kms from Meru town and 5 kms from Kiirua market. This school has been twinned since 2013 with Mt. Stewart Consolidated.
In this school is a modern kitchen or cookhouse with energy saving cookers where their meals are prepared. These cookers use little firewood compared to the previously used open fire places thus conserving firewood which is the main source of fuel. There is also less smoke generated from these cookers as they have a door which can be closed when firewood is added. This gives the cooks a pleasanter and healthier place to work. The school also has a garden with a screen house where vegetables are grown for use in the student’s meals. It is always a joy to visit the school gardens and meet the excited children as they queue for their lunch time meal of githeri. Githeri is prepared using a mixture of maize and beans and includes vegetables such as sukuma wiki (kale), spinach and onions. Also recommended for inclusion are carrots, butternuts, or orange fleshed sweet potatoes. These latter yellow or orange coloured vegetables are grown in the school gardens and included to ensure pupils have a balanced diet.
This program by Farmers Helping Farmers (FHF) involves the working together of all parties i.e. the school, the pupils and the parents. Parents make a contribution to the feeding program where they contribute to the school a supply of maize and beans. The parents of this school have been very cooperative in supporting the growth of this program. It all began when a meeting was organized and parents informed of the twinning to their school and what it would entail. One of the components of the twinning program was establishing a school garden. However, the problem was that the school property assigned for the garden was very rocky. This resulted in the parents coming together to clear all the rocks from a portion of the school yard for the garden. Afterwards the school had and continue to have very productive land for the vegetable garden and one could no longer recognize just how rocky the garden used to be.
According to the Head Teacher Mr. Gikunda, since the school was twinned there has been great improvement in terms of infrastructure at the school which now includes the cook house, six pit latrines and water tanks to harvest rain water from the school roof. The school also received a fresh coat of paint which drastically changed the appearance of the school, the modern kitchen and the school garden.
This has brought about an increase in the number of pupils joining the school each year. In 2014 the school had an enrollment of 140 pupils from class one to class eight and 30 pupils in the ECDE, or preschool program. Since twinning they have noticed an increase in the number of students that enroll each year. Their current enrollment is 195 pupils from class one to class eight and 41 for the ECDE, a 28% and 27% increase, respectively. He also stated he believes the feeding program is a major contributing factor to the increase in the number of pupils.
"The welfare of the pupils has improved through provision of clean water for drinking from the water tanks provided by FHF and the balanced meals they receive, the sanitation block, the supplementary books have helped the children improve their reading skills, all this thanks to FHF," says Mr. Gikunda
The pupils in this school exchange letters with their twinned school in PEI. This has helped the pupils learn about Canada, their culture and much more from their twinned partners. This helps in opening up their young minds about what happens in other parts of the world. It's always a joyous day when they receive these letters.
In Kenya there is a national examination requirement for pupils in class 8. This is a common national exam which every student must sit for and results determine ones progression to high school. Once schools are twinned an improvement in the overall performance has been noted and Muuti-O-Nthunguri is no exception every year grade 8 pupils sit for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE). Over the years the Head Teacher says they have noted an upward trend in the school performance in national examinations. He attributes this trend to the proper nutrition children receive which increases their ability to concentrate in class as well as the improvement in general welfare of the children. Cases were noted initially where children would not carry anything to school for their meals because there was no food at home, but now they all receive balanced meals at school. Since the rural homes where the pupils come from has no electricity, all grade 8 pupils have received solar lights to enable them study at night, this also contributed to the improvement.
Whenever I visit this school and others that FHF partner with, I am full of gratitude for the improvement I see, the smiles on children’s faces, the energy they display, the joy of Head Teachers as they show the improved school performances, the warmth in their voices when they talk about how many more pupils have joined them, all because some wonderful people and organizations have made it happen. FHF has donated much to touch the lives of people they don't even know. THANK YOU.
Farmers Helping Farmers Staff Kenya