Life and the educational system in Kenya

In the afternoon, we visited with the headmaster of the secondary school. It was interesting to field questions towards him about the school system in Kenya and his school, the BLISS school. It seems that kids are required by the government to attend school through grade 12, but they have to pay for school starting in grade 9. This creates many problems for the families in Kenya. This BLISS secondary school has a student base of about 400 students, and they require 19 teachers. But the government only provides them with 9 teachers, so the headmaster has to choose between buying supplies, such as books, and hiring enough teachers. On top of that, he cannot pay a high wage to these extra teachers, so the turnover rate is high as teachers find better-paying jobs in other schools. Just as in the States, it all comes down to money. Luckily, this BLISS school has a strong relationship with Ann Arbor, and this relationship funds many of the curricular programs that BLISS is able to offer. Hopefully, the school will find ways to self-sustain, but in the meantime, the people here seem to genuinely accept the donations and charity work from the Americans.

As with many people my age, my first impressions of Africa where the emaciated kids with the big bellies in the commercials about Ethopia in the 1980s, and that vision stayed in my subconscious. I didn’t realize, until I got here, that I expected to find the worst of the worst at this school. It is true that the kids in the schools here don’t have the same comforts that the kids in Ann Arbor do, but they are not in a position where I need to feel sorry for them. They are indeed in a position where they need help from outsiders like us in order to change their living conditions. On the other hand, the people we have encountered enjoy their lives, and although they would enjoy the standard of living that we have at home, it seems they are content and happy with the cards they have been dealt.

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