by Liz Townsend, on behalf of the Safe Inclusive Schools project
In March 2019, an FHF team of Carolyn Francis, Carolyn Thorne and Liz Townsend returned to Kenya to continue the Safe and Inclusive Schools project begun in 2017. In a follow-up evaluation of the first visit, Kenyan educators and community members had expressed strong support for the project to continue, and had asked for more information on positive discipline, learning strategies, and ways to increase inclusion and accessibility.
In response, the FHF team facilitated two-day workshops in two counties. The workshops drew a tremendous turnout, with 31 participants in Mukurwe-ini, and then 47 participants in Meru a week later. Every one of FHF’s 26 currently or previously twinned schools sent at least one participant, and over half of these participants had participated in the 2017 workshops. At the Meru workshop, the team also reconnected with Purity Ciomati and Virginiah Kwera, two early childhood teachers who had audited Holland College’s Early Childhood Learning Program during fall 2018 with support from Farmers Helping Farmers.
For two days, workshop participants shared strategies for positive discipline, learning approaches and inclusion and accessibility. As well, the 2019 workshops included a review of a draft Guidebook, Positive Learning for All, developed for educators by the SIS team. At the Meru workshop, valuable assistance was provided by the UPEI pre-service teachers, who were completing a six-week teaching practicum in schools twinned through FHF.
Evaluation shared with the facilitators on the two days was overwhelmingly positive, such as - “I wish all teachers were given the same workshop”, and “I will use a variety of instructional strategies to cater for all learners”. The Mukurwe-ini workshop also attracted interest from the District Education Officer, Mr. Joseph Wainin, who offered financial support to offer the workshop to more teachers. In Meru District, the Minister of Education stopped by to offer words of support.
Moving forward, the SIS team will update the draft Guidebook, given positive feedback such as “The Guide was an eye-opener.” Research on the project will continue. As the next step, Kenyan Research Assistants will carry out follow-up interviews with workshop participants in each of the two areas to gain their views in greater depth and help shape further work.
The SIS Team also saw the benefits firsthand of our donors’ generosity, as they joined with the UPEI Pre-Service Bachelor of Education students to hand out 211 Days for Girls kits and present soccer balls and mosquito bed nets purchased with FHF donations.
As well, funds donated to Make a School Disability-Friendly supported the SIS Team to present learning resources for Special Needs pupils at Mweru Primary (Mukurwe-ini) and Mitoone Primary (Meru) schools.