‘Matarajio’ project: Gender equality in Kenya

December 30, 2014

‘Matarajio’ project: Gender equality in Kenya.

Learning from our Grandparents

June 30, 2013

[32] Everbest - Lytchett Matravers

After John and Njeri’s visit we dried the corn that they brought us so that we could plant it in our vegetable garden. We then invited some grandparents into the setting to talk about growing food and the changes between now and when they were children. We wanted to know:
• Did they have a garden when they were little?
• What did he grow in his garden?
• What did they like to eat?
• Did they buy their food in the supermarket (Tesco!)?

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Oliver’s granddad Alf visited Monday afternoon and looked at the corn that John had brought in.  The children told Grandad Alf that we couldn’t eat it anymore because it had gone hard. Grandad Alf showed us how we could pull off the corn and that these were seeds that we could plant to grow more sweetcorn. He had brought some compost and pots from his allotment…

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Global Handwashing Day at Kangoro and Grove

March 30, 2013

[3] Kangoro-Grove

On the 15th October 2012 one of the Kenyan WASH project preschool classes shared their celebration of Global Handwashing Day with their OMEP partner preschool in Dorchester in the UK.The activities were co-ordinated between Kangoro preschool in Meru in the Eastern Province of Kenya and The Grove Preschool in Dorchester, England. Photographs and videos were taken and exchanged between the partners during these activities and these are continuing to stimulate regular communications between the children, their families and teachers. The preschool partners were brought together through a World OMEP initiative focused on efforts to provide Education for Sustainable Developmentin Early Childhood (ESDEC).

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The song

(sung to the tune of the old English classic: “Knees up Mother Brown”)

wash your dirty hands, (Sung as the children practice washing their hands well)

wash your dirty hands,

with a rub rub rub

and a scrub scrub scrub,

wash those…

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The first cuddly toys are on their way to Kenya

January 27, 2013

The Grove Dorchester, Lytchett Matravers and Maiden Newton are the first UK preschools to send cuddly toys to introduce themselves to their Kenyan partner. The packages also include picture story books, and crayons.
The children at Lytchett Matravers have sent Widget, Twinkle will be travelling for the children at Maiden Newton, and Cyril the Squirrel will be flying to Kenya for the children at the Grove. 

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Each of the toys are taking with them annotated photographs showing them with the children in the UK. These will represent significant learning resources in themselves for the children in Kenya.

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Itunze arthi vyema; hukupewa na wazazi; bali umekopeshwa na wazao wako

January 16, 2013

Translation from Swahili: You must treat the earth well. It was not given to you by your parents. It is loaned to you by your children.

In October 2012 Njeri, John, Simba and Joshua visited the first twelve UK-Kenya preschool partners. The Kenyan partners are currently being supported by a preschool development project managed and funded by the Salvation Army. The aim of the visits was to introduce each of the preschools to their new ‘partner’ preschool in the South of England. The Kenyan preschools were located in the Eastern and Central Province of Kenya, and around Nakuru in the Rift Valley.
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From left to right Njeri Kimani (OMEP Kenya), George Obondo (SA WASH in Schools Project Manager) Simba (Cuddly Lion), John Siraj-Blatchford (327Matters), and Joshua Kilundo (SA Preschool Project Manager)

Two of the preschools were in Kibera which is a slum only 5 kms from the centre of the Kenyan capital of  Nairobi that houses almost 1 million of people. Kibera occupies just 6% of the land of Nairobi but has 60% of the city population. The average size of a shack is 12ft x 12ft built with mud walls, screened with concrete, a corrugated tin roof, dirt or concrete floor. We collected a series of photographs from each of the Kenyan preschools that showed the Kenyan children taking “Simba” (a cuddly toy Lion) around their preschool and telling him (and us) three things that they really liked about their preschool, and three things that were a problem for their preschool. “Simba” was  then taken to their English partner preschool and reported (with the help of John and Njeri) to the children ( parents and teachers) on what it was like in the Kenyan partner’s preschool (with the support of the photographs and some video). A photograph of the English children with Simba was then sent back to Kenya and each of the English partner preschools is now choosing another cuddly toy of their own to send to Kenya with photographs of the children in the UK, showing the new toy and the three things that they are proud of, and those they consider problems to be solved.

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Communication between the preschools will initially be carried out directly using text messaging and occasionally email (where available). But each pair of preschools will also be provided with a secure (password protected) web page and the English preschools will be encouraged in the future to provide some help to their partners in getting online.  The OMEP partnership project team in the UK and Kenya will provide all the preschools with practical ideas on how they can support their partners and circulate information on joint projects e.g.  http://www.globalhandwashingday.org.uk/ and projects associated with water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).

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The Kenyan children told Simba they really liked Playing, reading, writing, drawing, eating, toys, their teachers, singing, painting, sleeping, swinging, pets and uniform. Perhaps only with the exception of the high priority placed on eating, sleeping and uniforms, these are also among  the most common things children in the UK like about their preschools.

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When Simba ‘asked’ the Kenyan children about problems in their preschool they talked about the lack of toys and play equipment, books, pencils, and crayons. In many of the settings preschools classroom furniture was non-existent and improvisations included the use of benches, adult tables and chairs and  church pews. In every preschool that we visited there were impressive  examples of the teachers efforts and  innovation. Every preschool classroom had many wall displays and posters many of which were made from recycled coffee sacks. There were painted seed ‘counters’, and bottle tops for counting and in one preschool even a improvised balance for weighing. A few toys were evident and some of these will have been made by the children’s parents.

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Many of the children also told Simba they would really like mattresses to sleep on and they didn’t have uniforms or enough water and porridge. Some were concerned that they didn’t have shoes or socks and were also aware of the problems their parents had in finding the fees for their preschool. All of the children assured us that they would remember Simba’s visit and they looked forward to seeing some photographs of Simba with the UK children in the partner preschool.

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In the past many other UK schools have developed  links or have provided support to schools in Africa  although few of these partnerships have extend to the preschool. Unfortunately these fundraising activities can sometimes reinforce negative stereotypes about Africans being “poor”, “helpless” and “needy.” In fact we found little evidence of any of this, we found high expectations, concern for the future, ingenuity, innovation and the will to succeed wherever we went.

The partnerships have been developed with a view to achieving social, economic and environmental sustainability through ‘carbon partnerships’  where both parties support each other in achieving convergence  in their environmental impact (measured through carbon emissions) to achieve their ‘fair earth share’  within global limits. Many resources are now available to support schools and other institutions in accounting for their carbon  footprints and in the UK and in many other nations a Government Minister has been appointed to provide leadership and direction in  encouraging such efforts.  Preschools seeking to reduce their footprint need to look at many different aspects of lives e.g. their  energy use, their use of transport, food, waste, what they buy, potential for recycling etc.  The partnerships will provide a means by which the children and wider preschool community can compare their situation to those commonly experienced in  Africa.

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The UK and Kenyan partners can provide mutual support to their partners by:

– Providing support in sustaining and developing the preschool provision 

– Developing resources and curriculum 

– Reducing (where appropriate) carbon footprints 

– Sharing knowledge and ideas

– Listening and learning from each other

– Gaining strength from the knowledge shared concerns

– Fund raising (when appropriate) for JUSTICE rather than CHARITY 

The Carbon Partners model turns the idea of fundraising “out of kindness” around by showing that, based on carbon usage, the school in the global North might initially be considered to be providing compensation to their partner school!