Abdul and KGSA realize that their performance as a high school is in part contingent on the health of the primary schools in Kibera. On Friday, Abdul and Clarice asked me to walk with them to a grade school that they have just begun to financially support. We walked down the railway tracks, with informal shops on either side every step of the way. About 30 minutes down the tracks, we took a right and wound our way through tin shacks. Abdul pointed out where the school used to be.The government had come in, bulldozed it down, and are building a high rise that only middle class Kenyans will be able to afford. Needing to continue with educating, the school put up a makeshift structure. Two of the grade school classes met outside, crammed on benches that slopped up hill. Three classes met inside, with no partition of any sort. When it rains, the two outdoor classes run inside and try to find a place on the floor to sit and learn. There are no books or pens. Each class has a tiny chalk board tied up with string.
“This can’t be. These kids can’t learn like this,” Abdul broke the silence. He has been such a successful social worker in Kibera, an organization has hired him to asses grade schools in the area. Once a school gets 200 students, the government will support them financially to help keep hidden cost down for kids. But there are many small schools that cannot find a big enough space to educate 200 students. Abdul comes in and financially supports them while they grow. It is easy to get overwhelmed, thinking of all the kids who are not set up to succeed in school. Abdul brings a calm focus to long term sustainable development.