I wake up to prepare for the school day by 4am. As headteacher of Juja Road Primary School, in Nairobi, I must travel to the school compound about 9 miles from my house and arrive at 6.30am. I must receive a report from the night security guard. Our students start arriving at around this time, so I attend to any parents who would like to chat until around 8am.
On assembly days (Monday and Friday), I attend in order to remind the learners what is expected of them while they are at school. Today, we receive visitors from Kenya Water for Health Organisation (KWAHO), who have helped to regenerate our school toilets. The head of the delegation gives a brief talk to learners about maintaining their cleanliness.
I am then greeted in my office by five former students, who have come to find out if they can help with any challenges that the school is facing. I mention leaking classroom roofs, absenteeism, a lack of parental support in terms of providing basic needs to their children and a lack of desks to accommodate all 50 learners per class. Although the school board of management spends money on roof repairs, it is not normally enough because the government releases these funds with strict guidelines on how they are to be spent. The alumni promise to mobilize their peers to try to find ways of assisting.
It is then time for me to rush to a science lesson for the 8th grade. Students’ ages range from 12 to 19, due to some joining late and a few who repeat classes. My lesson goes well.
I check my emails – which I do using my mobile phone, since the school does not have any computers or an internet connection – and find that our partner school in the UK, Newlands Primary School in Hampshire, has been in touch. We have been in partnership since 2007, through the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms program. The benefits have been enormous. It has helped us improve our learners’ and teachers’ communication skills, as well as critical-thinking and problem-solving in maths. It has also helped combat stereotyping, as learners have embraced global citizenship.
Our school often relives the moment in June 2015 when we shared in the joy of our partner school receiving the International Award at the TES School Awards. This has given us renewed strength to soldier on to achieve quality education for our learners and to give them 21st-century skills such as creativity and imagination, critical thinking, collaboration, digital literacy and leadership.
In the afternoon, I attend a meeting with the district education officers. They remind us about the looming deadline for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examination registration for the 8th grade, and the government’s education policies. One of these is Free Primary Education, which means that I am now expected to admit learners on sight.
My day ends at around 6pm, but I reach home at 8.30pm owing to traffic – just in time for a chat with my family before bed.