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2018

HABARI NEWS: FEBRUARY 2018

HABARI NEWS: FEBRUARY 2018

The month of February has been reported to have gone on well in Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School. It was reported that students were well focused in learning and other school activities. In the first place they may have realized that the changes with the New Year are there, they are new grades where text books and teachers have changed and class work as well has moved to a higher level. The teachers on their part made sure they are familiar with the workload for the semester and that they have the course books and learning materials required for them to teach. Father Ntaiyia School is in an area that has well equipped book shops that have all that is needed in schools and we have never had any problems purchasing what we need. I know from my (Fr. Ntaiyia) teaching in the past that Lesson preparation and working on schemes of work calls teachers’ attention to what they need.

One of the official activities during this time of the school year is computer registration of the end of the year public examination candidates and it is reported that all our students for this exam this year were successfully registered thanks to our competent teachers who can use computers.

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DROUGHT IN KENYA

As I write this report, rains have been reported in some parts of Kenya. The President of Kenya has declared the current drought a national disaster last February. Last week, Kenya Red Cross started a campaign to raise money to feed 3.4 million Kenyans faced with hunger across the country. “We need to move first to tame the current situation as some of the counties have already crossed to the alarming stage,” he said. Kenya depends mainly on rain-fed agriculture. When poor seasonal rainfall is recorded throughout the year, the country struggles to feed its people.

More than three million Kenyans are facing hunger across the country and the Kenya Red Cross organization has already appealed for money in aid of the affected families.  Children remain the most affected by the drought as they are forced to leave school in search of food and water. One million children are expected to drop out of school this year should the situation remain the same.

The lack of potable water also raises the occurrence of water-borne diseases such as cholera and diarrhea. Donor agencies such as the United Nations are calling on the international community to help alleviate the drought effects. Urgent support in terms of food supplies and water are required for hundreds of villagers across the county. Our Head Teacher wrote, “There are reports that the rivers are almost drying up completely and this is really a serious problem that only nature can solve. In fact, if the situation continues, many people and institutions like ours will find it hard to get water for use. Even the suppliers of clean water in town have also shared the same concern.”

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POLITICALLY it appears the country has not gone back to normal after the last elections. The government and the opposition seem to be at a rift on some minor issues and even though it may not affect learning in schools directly, communities are and so the students in a way are. We have a proverb:  When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. Meaning: elephants are so tough, that when they fight they can hardly hurt each other, as the grass that is being trampled by them is harmed greatly. Same as when two large entities battle, it is the smaller entities that suffer. In other words, when some leaders fight they might not be hurting each other but others around them are hurting just seeing them fighting.

NEW CURRICULUM

I trust our readers and especially Friends of Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School are already familiar with the on-going information on the change of education curriculum in Kenya.

Implementation of the new curriculum in Kenya continued to be discussed and the results of piloting does not seem to be very clear. For the first time we have been asked to buy text books for third graders in line with the new curriculum. We have ordered the books and the teachers are going to start using them. The current system has been criticized for being heavily loaded in terms of content and exam oriented.

The new system presents a standard shift on how the learning process should take place. It places more emphasis on learners’ mental ability to process issues and proposes a practical framework that nurtures competencies of learners based on their passions and talents. A lot of emphasis is put on what they are calling Continuous Assessment Tests over one-off examinations that has been proven to be an inadequate tool to assess a learner. Therefore, at the point of transition to secondary (High) school there shall be no national examination to sift the candidates. The challenges are, the path to its implementation does not seem to be well paved. First, it is believed that the most challenging aspect would be the cost factor. The new curriculum is meant to ensure all the children transition to secondary education. This means as it stands in Kenya now, more than a million more vacancies in secondary schools, thus increasing the demand for the secondary education five- fold in the country. This will require more teachers, more classrooms, and other facilities. That this will be possible, is another question without an immediate answer but fear that completion of elementary school level could be the end of education for most children. I must say it is a concern that has persisted in my mind (Father Ntaiyia) as I continue dreaming of a High School especially for girls. When the current curriculum was introduced the expectation was to prepare children for the job market. The question now is whether the new system – with all the good plans- leads to a repeat of the challenges brought about by the current system.

VISITING DAY:

3-20183_2018bThe highlight for the month of February was the parents visiting day that was on Saturday 24th, a day parents come to visit their children in school. A week before the visiting day the students take their midterm examinations that are graded, and the results are among the reasons for parents to meet with the class teacher and share on the progress of their child. Some parents may want to meet with the Head Teacher and some if need be meet with the School Matron who mainly deals with the health welfare of the students.

From the Head Teacher briefing “The last visiting day, 24th February, was quite successful. We had ample time to interact with the parents. As expected this day brought with it a lot of excitement especially to those who joined boarding for the very first time. Most parents appreciated the good learning environment at Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School and such comments always take my mind to all friends of Father Ntaiyia School over the years who have made it possible. Some parents requested we may also consider giving the students a mid-term break.”  Such a break allows the children to go home for a few days. I (Fr. Ntaiyia) would like to have further discussion with parents on this because the first two trimesters are longer now than two years ago. However, we need to consider transport cost and that such a break will not interfere with guidelines of syllabus outline and finally the schools now have two months’ break at the end of the year in Kenya.

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After meeting and sharing with teachers on their children the parents, guardians or those visiting on their behalf have time to share with their children. They bring food to share and some of them come with siblings who are always eager to see their sister or brother. They also bring some supplies such as soaps, shoe polish, for the rest of the trimester.  For some parents it is the first visit if they have not had their child in a boarding school before and would be looking forward to seeing and hearing how their child has settled in and progressing. Most of the children like it and have stories to tell on their new school, friends and activities. Although all parents may attempt to make it on this day, we allow parents to briefly visit when they are in town so long as they do not interrupt their child’s school activities.

I commend our teaching staff and other workers in the school for the efforts they make to take care of the students. I spoke with five parents by phone on the visiting day and generally hearing from them that they are happy with the school.

Fr. Symon Ntaiyia

HABARI NEWS : JANUARY 2018

HABARI NEWS: JANUARY 2018

The school re-opened in the first week of January for the first trimester of the school year as per the timetable given by the Ministry of Education in Kenya for all schools. The school activities are expected to run for 14 weeks that will end in the first week of April this year marking the end of the first semester of an academic year. During this period the students are expected to cover syllabus and extracurricular programs for all students in the country in respect to their grades and age. Greetings from us here in school.

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The Headteacher has reported that the pupils are going on with the studies as required and registration of our candidates this year for the public examination has started with the Ministry of Education. This exercise goes on in all the schools’ final classes in the country.

He has also reported that government has also launched a digital platform for registration of all learners and staff in all schools. National Education Management Information System (NEMIS) Every learner will be given a unique personal identification number which will be used in all levels (grades) of student’s learning. Each School will be given a code and password for logging in the system.

The Ministry of Education has also released a list of approved books for the new curriculum and this will start with 3rd graders this year. Father Ntaiyia has discussed it with the Headteacher and instructed that the new books be ordered from Bookshop and teachers are to start using them with students as directed by the Ministry of Education in Kenya.

2017 EXAM AND RESULTS:

Public examinations were done, and the results were out while the ongoing students had gone home for a long holiday. They resumed learning with excitement of the performance of yester year candidates whom they left in school waiting for the exams and who will not return to our school for they (candidates) have left for High Schools. For the first week parents brought the students back as the former students who took final examinations were coming to school to see to the documents regarding their examination results and invitation letters to High School that sometimes are communicated through the school. There have been a few days of congratulations and well wishes by all.

 

NEW SCHOOL YEAR:

The beginning of every school year comes with a few changes in each school. With graduating class gone there is expectation of new students to join our lowest grade and sometimes other grades. Some parents for various reasons may decide to transfer their children from Father Ntaiyia School to other schools.

The school has received and enrolled new students in grades 3 through 6 and by end of January we have 252 pupils in school. We do not enroll new students in grades 7 and 8. The teachers have reported that the new students have settled well even though it is never easy for the small ones who are away from home for the first time in a boarding school environment.

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New students regardless of the grade they come in, experience change, new teachers, school mates and classmates. The environment as well can be challenging to them as well as weather for those who come from high altitude areas. Class teachers must find out how prepared the new students in their class are to be in that grade and make sure they are up to date in syllabus and are able to move along in the grade courses. They have what they call tune up examination that they give as soon as the students are back form the Holidays, and this helps them to find out how the new students stand as well as having the ongoing students back to class.

 

FATHER NTAIYIA SCHOOL PERSONNEL:

Each year we have made sure we have the personnel we need in the school and this makes things easier for the life of the students in our school. We have three people in the building and maintenance / driver. Four in the domestic meaning kitchen and food services. The Matron, Librarian, two in the accounts and banking and twelve teachers. All our teachers are trained in the required standard by the Ministry of Education in Kenya for the job they are employed to do.

OUR FORMER GRADUATES:

We try to be in touch with some of our past graduates. We have news that practically all the students who completed with us last year got to High School. We have students from Father Ntaiyia School who are in Universities now after completing their High School studies and a few who went to two-year colleges after High School are working already. Our past students feel very free to come back to our school when they are in town, some even stay over night and I always feel happy to hear they feel very much at home there. Recently, Sister Pauline who headed Father Ntaiyia School visited a High School about 100 miles from Narok only to find three of her past students in our school there learning. It was a very pleasant surprising meeting.

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SCHOOL ENROLMENT AS AT 20TH JAN 2018   

 

Total  Boys 136  Girls 128 Total 264

 

CLASS BOYS GIRLS TOTAL
3 8 6 14
4 12 13 25
5 34 23 57
6E 13 22 35
6W 14 20 34
7 28 23 51
8E 13 11 24
8W 14 10 24
TOTALS 136 128 264

3      5         BOD MEETING:  We held our Friends of Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School (Charity) organizational BOD meeting on January 19 and deliberated on agendas that the members felt were essential such as an update on my trip to the School in October / November, welfare of the students and staff, the repair and maintenance that I supervised during my visit in Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School last in 2017. We also did a review of donations that come mainly with Christmas greetings as well as a financial report and projecting for the New Year. Through Friends of Father Ntaiyia Charity we pay school fees for some students with money that is given by people who mention that their donation should help with tuition for children.

During this trip I transferred the Title Deed of the five acres lot on which Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School is built from my name on which it has been since I bought it in 2004 to the name of the School. The new Title Deed was issued before I left Kenya for the US.

KENYA

Although the elections ended in what appeared peaceful there is still fear that politically things are not going well. However, people are going about their daily lives as they should. Learning resumed well in January and the trimester is going well. The weather is reported to be dry in some part of the country, but this is not unusual for this time of the year although some farmers have lost some of the crops due to dry weather.

EDUCATION CONCERN IN NAROK COUNTY KENYA

Sunday January 28, 2018 daily papers carried a report that, Narok County Governor has ordered the formation of an education taskforce to establish why schools in the county perform poorly in national examinations. The governor is said to have expressed his displeasure with the public examination results posted in 2017 for both elementary and High Schools across the county. Most of the schools are public schools. The decision to form the taskforce was reached during a one-day education stakeholders’ meeting with leading practitioners in the education sector who agreed to improve performance (of learning) in the county.

The Governor is reported to have said: “The future of our children depends on education, so we cannot take chances with academic excellence.” He added that the results point to a major problem in the sector because even those schools that used to be academic giants have sharply declined in performance. Narok Senator who was also in the meeting called on all stakeholders in the education sector to help transform students and pupils in the County. “We are worried by the high percentage of failures in our villages.”

To friends of Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School: I sometimes share such report and there are many of them in Kenya, to point out the reason for such a school as Father Ntaiyia where for the last five years our efforts and especially dedication of the teachers and staff have practically made it possible for all our students to make it in public examinations. Parents see the need to bring their children in a private school where they must pay school fees rather than to free public schools where learning and teaching is not taken seriously. The children in Father Ntaiyia School transfer from some of those public schools. Thank you all for your continued support that allows Father Ntaiyia School to keep school fees affordable for families who bring children there.

Fr. Symon Peter Ntaiyia

 

 

 


2017

HABARI NEWS: NOVEMBER 2017

HABARI NEWS: NOVEMBER 2017

My visit to Kenya this year was between October 15th, returning November 27th. I am still claiming the days of my holidays for when I was called back from Rome in 2014. Hopefully I will still have ten more days in 2018. Kenya has been a tense country because of nullified presidential elections in August and campaigns for the repeat election with a lot of uncertainty created by the opposition. Because of this, business as usual in Kenya had been affected from August and had not returned to normal. Learning in schools was also affected as trimesters had to be shortened meaning students went home early to allow for the elections to take place and in fear that some clashes could occur and find students in schools. Like every year I had very warm welcome by students and staff in the school.

 

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MEETING THE STUDENTS

As in the past they already knew I was coming and the little ones or new students whom I have not seen were eager to see me as I was as well looking forward to meeting them. After a cheering welcome by children I took some time with them in the dining area and after about 40 minutes I went greeting the staff and other members of the school community. The next two days I felt I needed to rest from the long flights and long layover, but this was not to be, for I felt I should go to school each day and be with the children. This time students were busy taking their end of year examinations because they had to leave on Oct. 24, two days before the repeat presidential election. The teachers graded the exams and were ready in time. The morning of Oct. 24, parents started coming to take the children early in the morning. The last student was taken at about 2 PM. I had the opportunity of saying hello to most of the parents as they picked up their children on this day.

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Those preparing for the public examinations this year had to be in school for two weeks after the others left before they also leave Father Ntaiyia School for good after their public examination. We had Mass for our graduating class (often I use our final class) with the rest of the school before they left; it was emotional for all of us because after Mass the students gave short speeches and songs for their departure after being in this school for six years.  This is the occasion when I wish to remember all the friends who have walked with us in the journey of establishing this school and I will never cease to say thank you on behalf of my people. There is indescribable joy in visiting Father Ntaiyia School again this year.

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PUBLIC EXAMINATION:

After the continuing students left for their long break it was clear that the candidates were in examination disposition. Teachers kept them busy in what needed to be done and samples of past examinations. I also had time with them twice each week, I generally encouraged them to face the future after their studies in my school. Most of the time they had questions about America. My instruction to them on their examination was to read and understand the questions, to write with clear and neat readable hand writing. When the examination days arrived they were conducted well by officers appointed by the Ministry of Education and a security officer who came to school before 8 AM after picking the examinations papers from the custody where heads of all schools had to go as early as 4 AM. The last paper was done at about 12 Noon on the last day of Exams. We shared a farewell lunch party with the students. They then had time to return all school books and other items that were in their hands and those who could, left that afternoon while the others waited for their parents the following day.

EXAMINATION RESULTS:

This year the examination results were out in three weeks, the fastest ever in Kenya and this is because most of the papers were for the first time being marked by electronic machines. When it was announced they were out, we all got eager to know how our students may have done. Although there is possibility for each candidate getting their results online, it was almost impossible to get on, maybe because every family with a candidate was trying to get online. The following day we were able to get online and to download our students’ results. This year we had 62 candidates but three of our students did not make the passing grade. The rest made it and we can feel a good job was done. The three who did not make it can still go to private high schools if parents want them to. This was our largest class in our five years of examination. We always had less than 32 candidates. My expectation thought was a little higher than our score that did not go above 80% for any of our students.

 

MAINTENANCE WORK IN THE SCHOOL:

Most of the school buildings are ten years old now and there are indications that there will occasionally be repairs. Before I left the US, I had asked our school and a mason who works for me in Kenya and school’s maintenance team to inspect the buildings and see what needed repair. Swahili people have a saying, “ Usipo ziba ufa utajenga Ukuta,” that is  if you do not fill up a crack, you will have to build a wall.  In other words it means, “A stich in time saves nine.”  Occasionally there will be repairs and maintenance of School buildings and furniture.

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I had discussed with Friends of Father Ntaiyia Charity – BOD that there may be repair work when I visit the school and that I was going to let them know what repairs need to be done in the school while I was visiting Kenya.

I started working without delay on my arrival to save time. I called two masons who worked for me before and they were available. We also got people for casual labor plus our maintenance people.

  1. Our new offices started being used for the first time last January and they are using the furniture that was in the improvised class room office. Gradually we shall need in the future more equipment for offices. The first thing I had to start working on are the administration building convenience rest rooms that were bringing in bad odor in the corridors and my quick reaction was to move the restrooms though still inside the building. The way I worked it out after consulting with the architect is to move the restrooms under the base of the library emergency stairs that are behind the building. This will still have a door to them from inside the building. The original restrooms have been converted into a small kitchenette.
  2. We chipped off the floor of the boys’ dormitory and one of the classrooms and the new floor was done and other minor repairs on building entrances and walls that needed repairs. There are also potholes in some buildings that we repaired.
  3. The floor at the entrance of students’ kitchen and dining room needed replacing too and this was done, and the walls plastered (were not plastered before) and will be painted. This is where students pass daily three times to be served meals.
  4. I saw the need to paint the walls of the corridors of the administration block and staff room with a lighter color (a light brown color) about a third height from the floor because of children holding on it as they walk in the building and repainting some inside office wall.
  5. The Sister in charge of the students’ kitchen had informed me that there was a need to have a deep freezer. I purchased one of about 45 gallons and I left it working very well.
  6. In the Sisters’ house they asked to move their chapel to another room in the same building and because of this we had to do some work of placing a sink in the room that was a chapel for the sister who will move in there.
  7. Students’ stoves needed repair and replacing of chimneys; we called the company that installed them, and they have been done ready for next year.

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2017 has been an expensive year in the school budget mainly because there was a prolonged drought and as a result prices of many staple commodities we use in school went up while at the same time the parents were not able to pay school fees in time or only could pay part of it. It was also an election year in Kenya and this added to the same because of uncertainty of stability. Learning was also disrupted because of the election and the children had to go home twice earlier than usual.

I wish to thank all friends of Father Ntaiyia Jubilee Primary School for your gifts especially at the end of the year (Christmas) that help us to go through such a tough year without increasing school fees.

School website:  http://frntaiyiajubileeschool.org

Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!

Fr. Symon Ntaiyia

HABARI NEWS: SEPTEMBER 2017

HABARI: NEWS SEPTEMBER 2017

Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School like other Schools in Kenya re-opened for third trimester on August 28 after almost four weeks for break. Students and staff had traveled well to and from their homes for this break. During this school break, general elections were held in Kenya. We are glad that things went on well and are calm even though the presidential elections were nullified and are currently scheduled to be repeated next month. Reporting back to School for students was a little slow this time probably because it was about the end of the month which dictates availability of cash money for those who depend on salaries and even those who depend on selling their produce to have cash for use and fees for students. In a few days, however, most of the students were back and learning and other school activities were resumed without delay. Generally, for both staff and students life was as usual at their home areas during the break. Although drought had been reported in most parts of Kenya for the last few months there was no unusual report on this but for ordinary challenges that people face with life.

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ACADEMIC REPORT:

Before going home for August break, the teachers had compiled a very encouraging report on how the students had been doing in learning per outcome of interschools end of second trimester divisional examinations. All grades (classes) had an area of progress and success. Such same examinations with other schools show that our teachers are following required syllabus and mode of teaching expected of all schools and using the right books and materials and keeping the students in the appropriate pace of learning. This is very good for our students and teachers.           I had called to congratulate the teachers through Deputy Head teacher for their efforts and especially for encouraging the students. We know students vary in ability to learn but each one of them needs to have hope that they will move on well in the next grade and year. Our teachers and students are grateful that we have equipped the school with what is required for teaching and learning. We have text books needed for use by all students and teachers at all levels. We also provide any supplementary books and materials for teachers.

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HIGHLIGHT DURING THIS TRIMESTER

Parents visiting day has always been a highpoint in every trimester in our school, a day in the middle of the term when parents come to visit their children and the school in general. From last year however, the Ministry of Education in Kenya prohibited the practice of visiting day during the third trimester of school year. This is because it is short, about nine weeks or one month shorter than first and second trimesters and has preparation for final public examinations for graduating classes all over the country. Those not graduating are also having their final trimester in the grades they are in and are preparing to join upper grade in the coming year.  In Fr. Ntaiyia School we have encouraged having a one-day educational trip for our final class during this trimester before their final examinations and last days in our School. This happened successfully last year and we also had it this month.  This year the teachers planned again for a route where children can learn as they travel and visit places that may enlighten them, some of them see things they have learned about. This year was a one-day trip by bus to a City called Kisumu at the shores of Lake Victoria which is the source of river Nile that flows for about 4,250 miles north to Egypt into the Mediterranean Sea. Such a trip is amazing for students from Maasai land, especially those who have not travelled much. They see how other communities live in small farms and keep their few cows and sheep in a small area; they see plantations of various food crops; they see tea, coffee and sugar cane plantations. Headed by Deputy Head teacher, final class teacher, two more teachers and the matron of the school, the students visited and saw an Irrigation Scheme at a place called Ahero. An international airport where they saw planes land and take off, a weather station, a Museum and the landmark of East Africa, the Lake Victoria. The students returned to a waiting and welcoming community of staff and fellow students and you can be sure those who made the trip will have endless stories to tell. I thank all those who were involved in planning for such a successful trip. The parents are also happy that the staff took good care of the students during the trip and especially in making sure that the transportation was reliable and the trip was very educational.

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SHORT TRIMESTER:

The government has adjusted the academic calendar for the third term to make room for the repeat presidential poll scheduled for October 26. The third trimester, which also happens to be the shortest term in the school calendar, was supposed to run for nine weeks. Schools opened on August 28 and the initial plans were to have all schools close on October 29 ahead of start of public examinations in School.  The Kenya Certificate of Primary Examination (KCPE) dates have not, however, been affected and will run as scheduled from October 30 to November 3. This is the public examination that all the students take before they proceed to High School.   Although it is still debated we are hoping that the repeat presidential election will not interfere with preparations for these examinations, and that it will be peaceful so that the students will not be taking examinations during a chaotic time in the country. Elections in Kenya have ended in a messy way in the past and we still have sad memories of loss of life and instability that persists.

THE NEW CURRICULUM IN KENYA

The pilot for the new education system was launched in April this year and the plan is to have it up and running in January. According to the Ministry of Education information in the daily papers on April 20, participating private and public schools were selected scientifically with rural and urban representation. It was mentioned that a report on the exercise will be presented to the Cabinet for adoption before being submitted to Parliament for approval by the end of this year. This may be the reason why not much has been said about the exercise because the country has been busty with elections that are not over yet as repeat elections for president are on the way. Hopefully we shall know what we need to do in preparation and implementation.

As reported in my last blog letter of July, in the meeting of BOD for Friends of Father Ntaiyia School Charity we felt the need to reserve some funds that may be at hand for implementation of the new curriculum. We would like to be ready to equip the school with whatever will be essential for the changes that the new curriculum will bring to the teachers and students.

To all our friends and well-wishers, thank you for your support.

http://frntaiyiajubileeschool.org
Fr. Symon Peter Ntaiyia

HABARI NEWS: JULY 2017

HABARI NEWS: JULY 2017

 

SCHOOL VISITORS: The month of July started with unexpected excitement in Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School as Mr. Adam E. Jablonski and his family from USA visited the School. Adam had invited Father Ntaiyia for lunch about two weeks before leaving for Kenya. He and his friends have a mission in Kenya and are working among my people the Maasai community and a tribe called Luo community promoting education and health services. I got to know Adam through one of my parishioners and we have met about three time here in Ontario / Webster NY. The school community was happy to see him and his family and to know that we know each other. The school appreciated and thank them for the gifts they brought for students. Adam and family, you are always welcome to Father Ntaiyia School.school assmb

END OF SECOND TRIMESTER

2017 July is the last month of the second trimester in the Kenya school calendar. Teachers and students work towards their end of trimester exams that attest their three months academic work to be carried in report form to parents among other reports in the report form. Teachers have reported that the trimester went on well in a much better way because the new students and teachers are used to the environment of Father Ntaiyia School. The students left for their August break on July 28.

The opening and closing term dates of school trimesters in Kenya are directed by the Ministry or Department of Education as they apply to the Basic institutions pursuing National Curriculum in preparation for National Exams. The first and second terms (trimester) for pre-primary and primary schools runs for 14 weeks each, while third term lasts 9 weeks to allow for the national examinations both for Elementary and High Schools all over the Country.

Closing the schools at the end of July, however, was very much anticipated because the 2017 general elections will be held during schools’ holidays as many polling centers are in public schools. It is our hope and prayer that the elections will be safe and that our school community will have restful and peaceful breaks at home.

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THE NEW CURRICULUM IN KENYA

There are questions that arise as I read more on the literature being released by the Ministry of Education on the new curriculum in Kenya.

First, currently going by the old system we have 8 classrooms that are supposed to cater for grades1 through 8. In the new system, we are well placed for primary (elementary) education but since we cannot bring below third grader children to a boarding school, we have been planning to start recruiting from 4th graders and making double classes (in each grade) to make use of our facilities.

Second, what will be required of teachers’ skills for the new system –  will they need more training, what about textbooks and other learning facilities that would be required by students such as the proposed electronics?

Third, in the old system transition of students from primary school to high school went by merits of passing the public examination. Children could move from any Elementary School to a High School of their choice or to private High Schools. In the new system, all children will be expected to continue with education past primary. It is not clear how children will be assimilated into high schools especially given that there are more primary schools than high schools.

Fourth, parents chose to take their children to private school and pay school fees despite free education in public schools. This is because they believed there will be better learning in private schools and a chance that their child would pass the public examination and go to High School. In the new system, there will be no factor of public examinations. Might this make many parents feel no need to take their child to a school where they must pay school fees?  On the other hand, it is inevitable that many schools and especially public schools not be quickly equipped with necessities for the new curriculum and parents who will notice this, will see the need to have their children join a private school that will be equipped? We must also admit that there are many challenges facing implementation of computer education in Kenya and it is not easy to visualize how they will be uniformly addressed.

 

BOARD OF DIRECTORS:

During the deliberations of BOD meeting of July 17, 2017, after Father Symon explained the initial steps regarding the new Kenyan Education Curriculum to members, we felt the need to reserve some funds that may be at hand for implementation of the new curriculum. We would like to be ready to equip the school with whatever will be essential for the changes that the new curriculum will bring to the teachers and students.

 

AUGUST BREAK

It was reported that students and staff went home for August break on July 28. As it can be imagined, children hardly sleep the night before the leave for home, they wait for the morning with a lot of excitement for parents to come for them. Some days away from the school bell and schedule. They will be with their families and neighbors and have a lot of stories to tell about their life in the school and their friends in the school.

They will be home for a month and hopefully general election will be peaceful and will not have clashes that may prevent schools resuming for the third trimester that is critical for public examination.

We celebrate the life of children in Friends of Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School with all our friends and well-wishers.

 

http://frntaiyiajubileeschool.org
Fr. Symon Peter Ntaiyia

 

 

HABARI NEWS: JUNE 2017

HABARI NEWS: JUNE 2017

 

The Head teacher and teachers have given a very encouraging report on school in the month of June. Things have been going on reasonably well as both students and staff continue with their duties in focusing on the education of the students; teachers, teaching and involving students in other activities besides class work and students taking their role seriously. This helps the teachers to position the students in their right place and to know those who may need more help in various activities. There are clear indications that new students are used to the school environment and there are less cases of common ailments that usually affect new students because of the climate. The non-teaching staff also play their roles as expected of them for success of each child.

 

VISITING DAY:

This day is usually announced when students go for holidays so that the parents may know when they can come for a visit because it only happens once in a trimester. This time the visiting day was on Saturday June 24. Saturday allows parents who are working and who can only come on such a day to come. The weather was very good for transportation as most of the parents use public means and some may come from as far as over 80 miles (120km).

Apart from visiting the children the parents meet with the teachers who are ready to discuss with them their children’s progress both in academics referring to internal exams and school life in general. Some parents may want or wanted to meet with the Head teacher for some reason and these also get the opportunity on this day.

Unlike the visiting day of the first trimester when some parents of children who were enrolled in January come to school for the first time, visiting in the second semester is more relaxed, everyone know what to expect. The use of cell phones allows parents to be informed on what their child needs for provisions for the rest of the trimester.

The Head teacher informed me that parents’ visiting day was very successful and that teachers and students were happy to welcome many parents. Practically all the students were visited.

 

NEW CURRICULUM IN KENYA

A few times in the past I have mentioned in my blog letters that Kenyan government has been working on changing what is known as 8-4-4 (eight years of elementary school, four of high school and four of university) system of education which has been in operation for the last 31 years and its replacement with a 2:6:6:3 system. With the new system, the Government proposes that learners should spend two years in nursery, six years in primary, another six years at secondary (high school), and at least three years at the university.

The proposal for this change is that pre-primary and lower primary education should form the first tier of education called ‘early years education’ and the focus will be on fundamental skills.

Primary education will be divided into the lower and upper levels while secondary learning will be split into the junior and senior grades.

 

TESTING THE NEW EDUCATION CURRICULUM:  Before the month of May 2017 four hundred and seventy (470) primary schools had been selected across the country for pilot project testing the new education curriculum to start on May 29, 2017.  A total of 10 schools – five pre-primaries and another five primary schools – have been selected in every county. In each county, the schools were selected based on five criteria – rural public, rural private, urban private, urban public and special needs schools. It is said that the findings of the pilot would inform the next stage of the process.

No doubt such a strategy or any change is expected to give schooling a new concern in Kenya. Although the Government has stated through the education cabinet secretary that the new curriculum will not be too expensive to implement, some professionals say that could only be true at the lower grades of the new education system. Currently schools have limited facilities to offer most of the suggested courses in senior school, some of the new courses that in the past had never been offered in the current secondary schooling segment.

 

I would like to let all Friends and well-wishers of Father Ntaiyia School know that we are following the situation as much as we can. Father Ntaiyia School is not alone on these changes because there are other schools that are private and are also marking time on these changes. I will inform and discuss with Friends of Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School Charity BOD so that we may all be aware that funds will be needed to implement these changes for they cannot be without financial implication that any change may bring to our School. I have also developed a few questions that help our teachers to find out what is going on and the consequence involved.

 

DROUGHT IN KENYA: While drought is not over in some part of Kenya, recovery will still take longer and this keeps the prices of many things up. As much as the prices are high we are also experiencing unavailability of the staple foodstuff that we usually buy in bulk.  Our employees like any other persons are undergoing the same both at the place of work and back at their families.

 

ELECTION YEAR IN KENYA: Kenyans go to the polls next month in national elections. The vote comes a decade after the worst electoral clashes in Kenyan history when more than one thousand people were killed in politically motivated ethnic violence. Since then every national election brings fear that it could happen again. This time the European Union has warned against possible violence in the forthcoming elections, while an advocacy group said it had documented cases of intimidation and threats.

Schools will be on August break that begins a few days before the polls day. It is our hope and prayer that it will all be peaceful so that families may have their children back to school in time.

 

My people will always be grateful for the support of many Friends of Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School.

 

http://frntaiyiajubileeschool.org
Fr. Symon Peter Ntaiyia

HABARI NEWS: MAY 2017

HABARI NEWS: MAY 2017

The Head teacher and all teaching staff have evaluated the school activities for the month of May and the Deputy Head teacher has compiled a very encouraging report.
They have reported that the (trimester) term started well early in May. Students reported fine except for the usual delay of some students for different reasons ranging from transportation and sometimes weather. The teachers and other school staff are always at the school on the opening day to welcome the students back and to meet with any parent/guardian who may need to talk with them. Like in any other school all experience little encounters that are common in all learning institutions.

Teachers have reported generally on each class (grade) on academic development, wellbeing of students, and involvement in extra-curricular and things that need attention during this trimester such as items for activities like music.
Teachers have further reported that Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School has the required teaching materials for them to use in every grade (class) as required by the Ministry of Education. This goes along with the report that they are able to cover their class work in time and follow the syllabus as it is required. Students’ common exams with other neighboring schools help the teachers on how they are up to date with the syllabus and development of the learners. Through the same exams they are able to find out some of those students who may be slow learners and who may need extra help to catch up with the others.

This year we have two large classes that may need consideration of splitting into two. I (Fr. Ntaiyia) am in discussion with the Head teacher and those involved to work this out for it involves need for class rooms and extra teachers.
This brings us to another development I had mentioned before. For the last two years we have enrolled a small number each year in class three (third graders). This year we have 10 only and it is clear to parents and to us as well that the children at this grade are very small to be in a boarding school and take care of themselves. We have realized more applicants for class 4 (fourth graders) in boarding. We may want to be recruiting initially for enrolment in class 4 (4th graders).

Teachers and other staff who have been working in our school for a while have mentioned that there is better security in the school compound with the construction of the stone perimeter wall and gate. Parents who visit the school are happy as well that this wall has been constructed.
Teaching staff have commended and been thankful for the availability of teaching and learning materials in Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School. They know that in some schools teaching tools are not available despite the Government providing a lot of money for them.

Clean water for use in our School has been boosted by the new water tanks for harvesting rain water. Although Narok town is still working on public water supply that is being used in various parts of the town, it may take a while before this water gets connected to our school and the neighborhood. I recently talked over the phone with the local leader for this water and he sounded promising although he did not give a time limit for it.
On general life in the school there are usual health cases such as common cold, and others that need attention. We take our students to a local public hospital and if things have to go further than that then the parents are involved.

KENYA:
Drought and its effects are still a major concern in part of the country especially in our area. Food costs are still very high and not available in bulk which makes retail prices still more expensive. Rains have been reported in some places but may not benefit crop farmers’ areas that it has come late.
2017 is an election year for civil government leaders starting with the Head of State. The election will be in the Month of August. Sometimes in the past such elections ended in a lot of bloodshed and loss of life. School will be home for August break after the second trimester and it is our hope and prayer that there will be peace.
Our School community tells me to say thank you to all Friends of Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School.

http://frntaiyiajubileeschool.org
Fr. Symon Peter Ntaiyia

HABARI NEWS: MARCH AND APRIL 2017

HABARI NEWS: MARCH AND APRIL 2017

 

After my last blog letter on Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School, the school first trimester had one month left before breaking for the first school holidays of the year or as we like to know them in Kenya, Easter Holidays. There were many activities taking place during the month of March besides academic.

One of the extra curriculum activity that takes place during this first trimester is ball game. The school trains their teams and then at a given date assigned by the Education office, local schools in a given area compete and form a strong team to the next level.  Father Ntaiyia School had over sixty-three participants in Soccer boys and girls, Volley ball boys and girls and Net ball girls. After the local competition we were able to have 32 pupils from Father Ntaiyia going to represent our school at the next level and these were 15 girls and 17 boys.

 

END OF FIRST TRIMESTER 2017

While the ball games were at their peak the students were also preparing for end of the trimester examinations. Prior to the end of trimester our final class had an interschool’s examination for the same grade and out of five schools I was told they ranked number two. This year we have a large class of 61 candidates and this is challenging for the teachers because marking or (grading) course assignment for all students takes a lot of time. It is my hope that all of them will make it in the final examination while at the same time we all have to admit that there are always slow learners.

End of trimester examinations went on well and were ranked before the students went home so that the academic report for each student is recorded in their report form along with other information to be taken by each pupil to parents.  Parents /guardians are expected to review the report form and if they are not able they may discuss it with the class teacher when they bring their child back to school after the holidays. Father Ntaiyia School makes every effort to involve the parents in the progress of their children, even those parents who cannot read and write are informed on what is going on.

Every first trimester of the school year brings new students to the school and our teachers understand that the new students come from different parts of the county or Maasai land; some may have been learning well and others may not. Teachers feel it is their duty to work hard and bring all the new students to the required standard of education for their age and grade and this is not usually easy.

 

SCHOOL LIFE:

Generally, school life has been going well during the first trimester and student population this year is more than we ever had before. We have enough conveniences we need for the 282 students thanks to friends of the school. The staff though has to be extra focused on supporting students through their journey in academic and other school activities.

Students reported back to school reasonably well starting May 2nd after their Easter break and learning started well as expected except for students who were still on the way back to school. Sixty students have already been involved in music practice for extra curricula activities that takes place this second trimester of the year. This took them to local competitions that form a strong team with other schools for further competitions. I am not keen for students travelling  from the school because of the political campaign going on during this election year.

Teachers have reported that their review of the end trimester examination indicated that a good number of new children who joined various grades in our school this year who needed to be tutored to catch up with those who have been here already did well. As I have mentioned before in other letters, our new students at times come from remote schools where some of them may not have completed the expected syllabus for their grade and so find it challenging to move on at our school. Our teachers quickly find out the new students who need to be coached in order to catch up.

 

DROUGHT IN KENYA:

In my February letter I mentioned that the President of Kenya had declared the current drought in Kenya a national disaster. Most of our students’ home areas are affected by this drought which has killed some livestock and caused crop failure – creating food shortages. Without livestock and crops, farmers and pastoralists (Nomads) lose their livelihoods.  Most of the parents, however, have reported they are still managing with what they have left. In the School we continue to experience the effect of this drought not only by changes of weather but by the fact that prices of food have gone up more than 30% and is not very available. Some families have lost the source of their income but for those who may be employed, many of them have not paid for their first trimester school fees and some still owe for last year. National news report on deteriorating food situation, and that yearly inflation, or the general rise in prices of goods and services, rose to a five-year high in April this year. Cities and towns that depend on food from rural areas are experiencing high prices of staple food. I hope to discuss this situation with the School’s Charity BOD in our next meeting.

A latest report in local papers states that due to the prolonged drought and soaring food prices, the locals from pastoral community (Maasai) have been worst hit by food crisis and people living not far from our School are being given relief food. Many Kenyans are being forced to cut down on essentials.  Local papers however, have reported that 4 out of 10 citizens have in the last three months gone without food due to lack of money. A teacher is reported to have said. “At the moment, I can’t afford to buy bread, milk or sugar and we eat meat on rare occasions. If I spend on meat, my kids will drop out of school,” he says.

 

ELECTION YEAR IN KENYA

This year is election year in Kenya and with past experience it brings worries about the danger of a violent campaign. According to local polls, 70 percent of Kenyans say they are worried about a repeat of that violence of the past. “The fear of widespread violence erupting cannot be ignored,” said one of the Catholic Bishops. It is said that people are already witnessing that communities are beginning to be suspicious of one another, investors are wary of investing in Kenya, foreign tourists and other visitors are canceling their visits to the country due to security uncertainties, lenders employ a wait-and-see attitude, and the general economy of the country has stalled. Religious leaders are urging politicians to lower the political temperatures and are preaching peace.

 

Fr. Symon Peter Ntaiyia

 

http://frntaiyiajubileeschool.org

 

HABARI NEWS: FEBRUARY 2017

February the second month of our first trimester finds already four weeks in school activities both in learning and curricular. Students have settled on the excitement of being in the New Year and new grade (class), new text books and some of them new teachers for some courses. There are also new students in various grades who are new to the other students, to teachers and other school workers and to the environment that has different rules for them that what they had been used to in the schools they came from to join Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School. This brings in many stories to be orally shared and joy to be expressed by those who have wanted to come to our school and have at last got a chance. However, teaching and learning calls for seriousness of being away from home.

TEACHING STAFF:

Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School experienced a big change as three more teachers had to leave the School since my last blog. As I have mentioned in the past most of the teachers we employed are trained hopeful of being employed by the government that gives better salary than private school can give as well as other allowances. For these reasons Father Ntaiyia is always clear that if a teacher or any other staff member gets a better paying job they are free to go. We had a setback though because our former deputy who had steered the school well for two trimesters in 2016 had to leave as well. Father Ntaiyia had expected him to be a great help to the new leadership in the school because of his experience.

Following the departure of these teachers we were able in consultation with Father Ntaiyia to recruit new teachers who came in time to continue with the teaching and learning of children without delay.

Besides students’ class work in the School that must be primary, the administration has to work on the 2017 (public examination) registration during this trimester. There are also extracurricular activities that include drama and ball games. According to the circular from the ministry of education, registration of examination candidates is to be done on- line. This process involved the candidates having to select their preferred secondary (High) verifying the details in their birth certificate and uploading the entries in the required website. The final report on registration has to be printed and signed by the candidates for the confirmation of the registration data. Candidates had to have their registration details confirmed by the end of February. We are glad to report that this exercise ended successfully under our new Head teacher and we are happy and thankful to Kenya government that has for the first time, decided to pay for all the examination fees required for every candidate in both public and private schools. The examination fees had for many years been paid by the parents, in both public and private schools.

VISITING DAY:

For readers who are familiar with your past report, this is once a trimester day when the school hosts parents to visit their children in school. The parents are allowed to bring food to share with their children as well as bring those supplies such as pens, copy books, soaps and other items that may be needed for a few weeks before this trimester ends. This is a busy day for students and staff as well. It is always picked to be on a Saturday in the second month of the trimester. If weather allows all students expect to be visited by at least a family member in case parents cannot make it. It is a day that is never less exciting for older students and young but it is always more thrilling for the new students and parents who are visiting for the first time, also parents who have never had their child away from home before. They enter the gate with their eyes looking all over and one cannot fail to notice the joy of them meeting their child. At times it gets emotional with mothers, those tears of love.

A week before visiting day the students take their midterm examinations which provides an opportunity for parents to meet with the class teacher and share on the progress of their child. Visiting day also gives our new staff members who are working among the Maasai people for the first time by coming to Father Ntaiyia School, a chance to meet them as they visit their children

KENYA: DROUGHT 2017

On 10 February the Government declared a national drought emergency, with 23 of 47 counties affected. The number of food insecure people more than doubled – from 1.3 million to 2.7 million. Some 357,285 children and pregnant and lactating mothers are acutely malnourished. Maize and beans (that form of staple food ) production in many areas is reported to have decreased by 99 per cent in some areas compared to the long term average. People have to travel three times longer than normal to access water. Pastoralist (nomadic) communities’ counties are losing their livestock. Data collected by UNICEF from 10 affected counties indicates that close to 175,000 children are not attending early pre-primary (elementary) and primary schools, primarily due to the drought’s impact. It is being reported that The World Food Program and the Government of Kenya continue to provide schools meals across the arid and semi-arid areas and in the poor informal settlements the Capital of Kenya and hard-to-reach areas, feeding about one and a half million. School meals protect vulnerable children from hunger and offer a regular source of nutrients essential for the mental and physical development of young children. A full stomach gives children an opportunity to focus on learning at school.

A daily school meal provides a strong incentive for families to send their children to school and keep them there.

NOTATION:

While public schools may benefit from such feeding programs, private schools like Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School do not get any help from the government even in such critical times because we charge school fees and for that reason we are expected to meet all our financial undertakings including salaries for teachers and workers.

In our normal situation the School buys staple food directly from the local farmers, but the problem we have now is that because of the drought the farmer’s crops have failed. Parents who depend on agriculture, therefore, have nothing to sell and animals are either dying for lack of grass and water or are too skinny to sell. This makes the available staple food in the markets expensive when many parents are not able to pay for school fees.

The record I have from School indicates that there are many parents who have not completed paying their last year’s fees which means the expected fees for this trimester have not been paid. At times we may want to send children home for fees collection but in such a situation of drought I advise that they remain in school because in some homes families might have no food. Rains are being reported but this does not mean there will be any change in the next 3 to 6 months.

FRIENDS OF FATHER NTAIYIA JUBILEE SCHOOL CHARITY

We have had our first meeting this year and felt we need another one soon to look into our development for last year and plan for what we need to do this year in the School. We are pleased to announce the realization of the rain water project after the rains came and the new tanks got a lot of clean water for children and staff in the school.

Kenya is hoping to change the system of Education and this has been talked about for some years but of late there has been a lot of discussion on it. Such a change may involve financial undertaking in a number of things such as text books and other learning materials, in-service courses/training for teachers, use of computers and other technologies. Kenya government has recently extended power to many remote places targeting the schools. I have shared with our BOD on these things so that when the time comes we shall be ready to fund some of these things with funds from our friends and well-wishers.

With loads of Thank You to Friends of Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School from the families that have Children in this school.

Fr. Symon Peter Ntaiyia

HABARI: NEWS JANUARY 2017

NEW YEAR AND SCHOOL RE-OPENING

Last year the school had a long end of the year school holidays, almost two months, November and December. Although there are many festivities at the end of the year people are always mindful of the ending year and the coming of a New Year. By tradition it is at this time of the year that results of public examinations are expected and this brings anxiety to both parents and the exam students. There is hope that this would go well and fear just in case the students did not make it. This is also the time for the parents to begin preparing their children to go back to school for the new year and new grade. Things that come to the mind of parents are like school fees as in the case of a school like Father Ntaiyia or other private schools where fees have to be paid; there may be need to replace school uniforms, stationeries and other necessities for life in a boarding school.

Schools in Kenya resumed studies January 2017 after celebration of New Year day at home. At Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School, when weather is good for public transportation most parents bring their children without much delay for beginning of each trimester and learning. As per our tradition our teachers and other staff members were ready to receive the students as their parents brought them. This is a welcome back to school that is very much appreciated. Learning begins as it is required by the curriculum and syllabus that aim at covering 14 weeks of school work during the first trimester that will end on 7th April 2017.

OUR 2016 FINAL CLASS EXAMINATION RESULTS

As was reported in our last blog, our students who graduated last year all made their final public examination known as Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE). Father Ntaiyia Jubilee school, over the last five years, has consistently had practically all the students pass making it possible for students to continue with studies in High Schools. We are glad and happy with parents and our benefactors that our efforts have brought hope to many children and their families. The results are very much appreciated by the parents. Father Ntaiyia, who always follows very closely every step geared towards the success of learning program in his School has informed us that he has shared the news with Friends of the School. We are informed that all our students got places in various government High Schools in our country. We wish them and their families well as they prepare for their promising future careers.

FIRST TRIMESTER SCHOOL ACTIVITIES

As we embark with our school life, this trimester has its outstanding activities. In the first place it is during this term that we register our candidates for the final public examinations. Each year the Ministry of Education gives the date when this exercise is to begin and end and for this year it was 18th January and will end on 28th March. Unlike in the past when this registration was done manually, we are doing it online. With all the information required for each candidate, they have a chance to select the High Schools, and that is how they end up being selected and sent an invitation letter if they qualify to go to the school they choose.

This year, unlike in the past where this registration fee was paid by the parents, the government is paying for every candidate who will take this examination in both public and private Schools. Registration fee will be paid by the government though processing fee may be charged by the schools. In Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School 62 candidates this year (8th graders) will also benefit from this government offer.

This trimester has its official extracurricular activities as well; ball games and drama have been scheduled for February and March before the students go for competitions, which begin with inter- school level. Teachers play a big role in involving and training students in various games so that we can pick the best to represent Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School in competitions. These trainings do not interfere with learning because they are taken after class work and during free time.

NEWS FROM FATHER SYMON NTAIYIA

To all our friends and well-wishers, as I mentioned last year, I am encouraging most of our monthly blog letters to come directly from the teachers in the school. In the past I use to ask them what is happening, then I would write the report. It is easier for me to edit the report they send to me, and ask them for clarification where it is needed. If any of our readers may have a question on any of the subjects in our blog letter, please call or e-mail me.

RELIGIOUS SISTERS: It will be remembered that I wrote on Sisters leaving the Father Ntaiyia School because their new Superior for some reason did not want to have another house in Narok. After they left I consulted with the Bishop of the Diocese where the School is and he was willing to welcome any other congregation that would agree to come and work in the School. I had to look for the Sisters, invite them and then inform him. I requested another congregation of Sisters and after initial correspondence with them I invited them to visit the school in Narok so that they may know where they are being invited to. They visited the school before my visit to Kenya. After their first visit we involved the Bishop of the Diocese where they are based and my home Diocese Bishop. The two Bishops communicated on the issue and graciously allowed the nuns to come to Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School. It was made very clear to them that the School is private and so Sisters contract and terms of work there have to be made with Fr. Ntaiyia and the School.

Sisters made another visits to the School when I was in Kenya. We looked at the house they were to occupy and things that needed to be done before they came. Before we had two teachers housed ready to be used by 3 sisters. We have 4 sisters now and there is room enough for them. I asked them to continue for a month and make a list of things they may need or to be done. Their congregation is working on a draft contract on terms of their work in school.

We have two teachers, a cateress (domestic) and an accountant and so far they have settled in well.

STUDENTS: As usual we have new students who have transferred to every grade even. We did not get the expected number of 3rd graders which is our primary intake class. We also experienced the same last year and it is clear now that most parents are now having their children start school at an early age such that they are still too young to leave home for a boarding school as 3rd graders. In the future we may have taken our boarders from class 4. This year we have 68 new students, a number that represents about 24%. We have 282 children in Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School now. I have also been informed that students who graduated from our school first who did their High School final examination last year, four of them will join University for Higher Studies.

DOUBLE CLASSES: Because of having large numbers of children we had to split 3 classes into two for easy learning and teacher attention to children. We have room for about 280 in the dormitories and the other facilities can accommodate the same number.

TEXT BOOKS: My initial plan when I started the School was to have about 35 children per grade and two children sharing one text book of each course taught in that class meaning: for English there would be 17 text books, same for mathematics. When a class therefore ends up having more students we have to buy new text books for each subject or course, this is not considering when there is change to a new book by the Ministry of Education and when we have to replace the old books (used for a long time).

TEACHERS: Two of our teachers were employed by the Government; we have recruited two more to replace them and are teaching already. The other staff members are as we had them last year but for a new employee.

NEW ADMINISTRATION OFFICES: We started using the new administration offices, and they have been allocated for the various departments of administration. Teachers have been using their new staff room for almost a year now and soon each will have own desk there.

             BOYS

           GIRLS

3

4

6

10

4

24

16

40

5

26

34

60

6

28

23

51

7E

18

12

30

7W

17

12

29

8E

18

13

31

8W

19

12

31

282

Fr. Ntaiyia


2016

HABARI NEWS: END OF 2016

OCTOBER 2016:

The month of October presented unusual weather characterized by a long spell of drought unlike in the past when the region usually received good rains from October through November and December. Temperatures remained high at day times. Dusts and strong winds became the order of the day. Cold drinks and cool shades during such periods are a welcome gift to everyone. The type of clothing matters and the activities for the day need to be carefully selected to avoid exposure to intensive heat which may lead to sunburns or dehydration. Physical education programs which are very essential for learning and healthy development especially in lower grades have to be scheduled for early or mid-mornings. However, our students seem acclimatized to this condition as they still remain active in various out door activities during their breaks or free times.

FATHER NTAIYIA’S VISIT

Having been away from Kenya for almost a year, news about our school proprietor, Fr Symon’s visit brought a lot of excitement not only among the students but also the school workers who kept inquiring about his arrival long before it was even confirmed. Fr Symon had hinted towards the end of the last trimester that he would be coming home, from US, before the end of the term. Expectations were high especially among the 3rd graders and some of our staff who joined the school community this year and had not met him.

The afternoon of Tuesday, 11th October, will remain in the minds of many. The students waited expectantly in their classes for his arrival and any sound of a passing vehicle made them peep through the windows to catch a glimpse of what was going on outside the classes. Then the long wait was over!
His Suzuki made its way into the school compound at around 5:15 pm and ululations rented the air as the students came running out of their classes leaving their teachers behind and began milling around the vehicle. Everyone was eager to catch the first sight of the man who has become a ‘father’ to many young people who have had an opportunity to learn and be mentored in Fr Ntaiyia Jubilee School, his brain-child, which has been in existence since the year 2009. With a big smile on his face, well calculated moves and open arms, he advanced towards the jubilant children, greeted them the Maasai way and took photos as he exchanged pleasantries with them. After briefly meeting the teachers and other staff, he left the school compound for his place of residence for a rest after a seemingly tiring journey. An indication of a hardworking man, he immediately settled down to prepare his work plan with a series of briefings / meetings with the administration, teachers as well as announcing the school development plans. His presence, especially at the time the candidates are undertaking the national examination, is a source of inspiration.

EDUCATIONAL REPORT

It will be remembered that this is the shortest trimester of the 2016 academic year comprising of 9 study weeks without co-curricular activities in all schools. The students have to be prepared adequately for learning activities before they write their assessment examinations which would also be used for promotion to the next grade at the beginning of next year.
The yearend examinations were scheduled for the 8th week before the schools’ closure to make way for national public examinations for the 8th graders. The examinations done jointly with other schools were then analyzed by the teachers in order to prepare academic reports which would be sent to the parents. These reports summarize the achievements made in the academic year and recommend policies and strategies to be employed in order to maintain academic progress next year. We are optimistic that the good results we have witnessed this year will continue to strengthen and motivate the learners as they prepare to join new grades.

The final public national examinations for our 8th graders mark the end of learning in Kenya elementary schools. This examination has over the years been rocked by rampant cases of cheating reported in some parts of the country. This year, however, the ministry of Education came up with very strict guidelines which brought an end to this perennial challenge of administering credible examinations. On our part, we have always prepared our candidates to face the examinations with honesty, emphasizing the need to value our students’ ability and Father Ntaiyia has always wanted all-around well given education.

As reported in our last September blog, the government of Kenya, through the ministry of education, is fast-tracking the educational reforms. A report tabled by educational researchers, stakeholders and government agencies have maintained their stand on the need to review the Kenyan education system and recommend ways and means to enable it to enhance national unity, mutual social responsibility and accelerated industrial and technological development. The government’s plan is to change the current structure of the present system of education. We, in Fr Ntaiyia Jubilee School, are keenly following the discussions and are aware that we shall not be left behind when changes come.

FROM FATHER NTAIYIA:
Our readers will have noted in the last blogs that I am encouraging the teachers or one of them to be writing the school report. I only go through it to make some things clear after consulting with the Head or Deputy Head Teacher.
Below however is my contribution to the letter covering my visit in Kenya in October and November.
Friends of Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School always give us a good end of year and beginning of each school year because their Christmas donations help us to plan for desirable needs in the school. I have mentioned in the past that in the spirit of “no gift is too small” such gifts help us to keep school fees low and affordable. Because of such gifts, this year, Friends of Father Jubilee School Charity BOD budgeted for some new text books for children, new benches for use at dining tables, new desks for children who needed them, construction of a 1,910 feet long and 8 feet high stone perimeter wall around five acres of school compound, two metal gates, relocating of long drop outdoors toilets for girls and one for boys. We were also able to carry out a ten-thousand-dollar rain water harvesting project that is placing gutters on the roof of our administration building from which we shall harvest the rain water, building a base for four large water tanks and purchasing the water tanks. The four tanks will hold about 23,000 gallons of clean water when full. We are also making individual desks for each teacher to be placed in the new staffroom. In some private schools to have such projects funded would mean increasing school fees or asking for development money from parents.
I was in Kenya for six weeks during October-November that I mostly spent in the school with the children as I was overseeing some of the works, especially the water project. My mind often came back to many friends who have made this school possible. Our final class this year took their public examinations while I was there and I visited them each day. These were some of my best days during this break. After their exams they left the school for good. I had three more weeks of work to go. About two weeks after my return to the US I received news that all our 31 candidates who took their public examinations this year have made it and will be going to High Schools. A girl was leading in my school and we are still waiting to know how we ranked among other schools. I called to thank the teachers and all the workers for the good job in spite of the change of leadership in the school after Sisters left early in the year.
Thanks to all our friends for by sharing your donations during Christmas you bring Christ the “Light of the World” to these children and their families and what a wonderful and grace-filled opportunity.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Fr. Ntaiyia

HABARI: NEWS SEPTEMBER 2016

To Friends of Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School and readers of Habari News, this month apart from editing to clarify and explain some terminologies this report is mainly written from reports by our teachers and compiled by our Deputy Head teacher Mr.Johnson Chepkowny who has been in charge of the school since May this year.

BACK TO SCHOOL AFTER A SHORT BREAK
Schools in Kenya resumed on Monday 29th August 2016 from a two week break and started the third and last academic trimester of our school year. Those readers who are familiar with the blog report will realize that there is change as it had been mentioned in the past on how the school trimesters were divided. Schools are expected to be in compliance with the new directive from Ministry of Educations as per new dates determining the length of each trimester (term) and school holidays. The Administration in Fr. Ntaiyia School makes sure we comply with such directive so that our school remains in the main stream for the good of our learners. As usual our teachers and other school staff were already in school as we welcomed 80 students who were accompanied by their parents on the first day. There was good spirit pointing out that we all prepared to begin the trimester’s activities. As expected, during the first few days after opening it was possible for our teachers to meet with the parents who kept bringing the students who were not able to report on the first day. Beginning this last trimester of the year has feelings of ending the school year, examinations and hope that next year students will be in other grades of class. Parents return home after bringing their children back to school promising us their prayers and wishing us well.
Keeping to our tradition here at Father Ntaiyia School, we give our students their first internal examination, which we usually referred to as ` Tune-Up` (or wake up we are back to school) soon after they are back from home. It is aimed at bringing our learners back to books and school work after their holidays. The results of the examinations are then analyzed and in many cases help us to identify the areas that may need attention before the teachers gets deep in trimester’s work.

OUR EFFORTS AND HOPE
Before we go home for holidays we end the term with standardized examinations that our students and those of other schools in our area take. We have 50 schools involved and in each school each grade (class) takes the same examination. These examinations are given extraordinary attention by both teachers, students and education officer as they are used to gauge the development of performance not only by the students but also the teachers and educational managers. Schools and individual students are usually ranked and official reports are prepared by the local education officers.
Since the results of these examinations are released at the beginning of the trimester, each party expects challenges that require energy and determination for better results in academics and other school activities. Father Ntaiyia always tells us that there must be room for improvement always in life.
Within the first week of our returning from holidays, as trimester’s examination results were released, we are proud to say that Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School, once again posted a very remarkable performance in all the grades. All grades were ranked among the top three (3) out of 50 schools and a good number of students featured in overall top ten positions in all subjects. Our 8th graders, who are the graduating class this year, were in position 3 out of 59 schools and emerged the best school in Science, 2nd in English and 3rd in Mathematics. This good performance is attributed to the commitment by teachers, students and all those involved in their learning.
The education officers have commended Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School for determinations to provide quality education for our learners. The parents, too, are pleased with these reports of their children. It is hoped that our students will continue to do well and give us hope for their further education and a bright future.

PROBABLE CHANGES IN KENYA EDUCATION SYSTEM
The current education system in Kenya is being reviewed by National Education Ministry in consultations with various educationists, government agencies, teachers and parents’ associations. Last August the head teachers’ conference, which was held in Mombasa, one of the Kenya’s cities, provided a platform for the government to receive the views of the stakeholders on what should be incorporated into the curriculum. The proposed curriculum which is expected to be effected in the near future, will do away with some “subjects’’ (courses) being taught now that do not seem to be useful in preparing the learners in Kenya for their future. It is hoped that the content of proposed curriculum will address the perennial challenges facing the Kenya’s education sector and that the learners will have better foundation to shape their future as expected of productive citizens.
The government has also announced plans to waive national examination registration fees beginning January 2017 for all Kenyan children, both in public and private schools. These fees are always paid by all parents even those of public schools where education is free. The candidates have to meet these fees on the year of their public examination and when the deadline is not met some students are sent home and may miss learning for a while before they pay these fees. At times it may take long for some parents to get the money. In Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School, however, Father Symon instructed that we pay for the fees for every child who is late when the time comes and wait for when the parents will get the money.
Next year is an election year in Kenya and we are used to promises that we believe once they are implemented and are in place.

EDUCATIONAL TRIP TO NAIROBI
It has become our tradition here at Father Ntaiyia School to plan for an educational trip every other year for some of our students. The expenses of such a tour are met by parents of the students who go. After the teaching staff has deliberated on the tour and where to go and made estimates of the cost per students, each student takes a letter home during the holidays before the trip. The parents who are willing and can afford will pay for their child. Priority is always given to graduating for final class. Towards the end of the last trimester, we planned to take our students for an educational trip to Nairobi, the Kenya’s Capital. The objective of this trip was to expose learners to some places and situations they may have heard of or read about while learning. It is like an opportunity for supplementary learning resources given that some of them may never have opportunity to go to these places.
This year we began the preparation after we officially made a request to our proprietor, Fr. Symon Ntaiyia, who whole heartedly accepted and took a step to guide us on when and how to go about it. The message was communicated to the parents who also responded positively by meeting the cost of the trip. By the end of the second week of the term, we had about 50 students in the booking list.
This necessitated official notification of our local education officers as required by the ministry’s guidelines on educational trips. These include transport and safety arrangements for the learners. A pre-visit was then made to the places we wanted to visit, The Animal Orphanage and the National Assembly. This is usually done to familiarize us with the places and authorities in charge in order to make arrangements for the visit.
There was a lot of excitement among the pupils when the journey began in the morning of Friday 23rd September 2016. The bus carrying the 59 learners and 3 teachers left the school compound at 6am. Though they were somehow inconvenienced by morning traffic jam as they entered the City of Nairobi, they managed to arrive on time. They then visited the airport, national park and the national assembly. The report from the teachers who accompanied the students shows that the students stole the show in the National Assembly by the way they responded to the questions they were asked by the clerks who welcomed them to the public galleries. The administration was in constant communication with who were on the trip while Father Symon called a few times from the US asking that all is well with the children and the teachers who were on the trip. Those who remained in the School went on with usual daily activities but as the day was spent we were eager to receive the others back. The trip was very well planned and supervised making it very successful and a learning trip for all.
I wish to congratulate our staff and our parents for making it possible. To our students, well done for your cooperation and good behavior.

DEVELOPMENT: (Report by Fr. Symon) As I mentioned in my last blog July / August, development in the school continued as per Friends of Fr. Ntaiyia Jubilee School BOD plans on our ongoing little projects in the School. During the school holidays however, the mason and our maintenance team had to do little repairs that were necessary in various buildings that needed to be done when the children are away. During each school break the buildings, the beds, and the furniture that children use are inspected. Usually after such inspection things that may need repair are taken care of. Our workers have to suspend any other ongoing work and pay attention to such repairs before the children return. There may come a need to repair something immediately and there are those that may wait until the children are on holidays.
Meanwhile the boys’ latrine is almost complete; this had to take a little longer because there is a urinal to be constructed along with it. The construction of the stone perimeter wall is in good progress in spite of being put on and off to give way for other works in the school. The total length of the perimeter stone wall under construction is 1910 feet, we have already constructed 1347 feet and is still remaining 563 feet. We have also started making desks for each individual teacher in their new staff room. They moved in their new staff room about six months ago and are still using some office desks and ordinary tables.
I will be visiting Kenya and hope to see to completion of the ongoing projects especially installing more plastic water tanks for harvest rain water from the Administration /Library building. We thank our generous donors, a priest and a friend of his from Rochester for this water project. This will increase clean drinking water for the students and staff.
I am in new discussion with another congregation of Sisters who have visited my school and are interested in working there. I will have a talk with the Bishop of the area on this when I am in Kenya.
Thank you to all who made it possible and those who still keep us going.

“I am because we are” = African proverb

Fr. Symon Ntaiyia

HABARI NEWS JULY / AUGUST 2016

To our readers, you will notice as you read through that this is in the form of a report by our Deputy Head Teacher who is responsible for the administration of Father Ntaiyia School. We edit the report together to make it easier for readers in Kenya and those outside who may not be familiar with some terminologies used in the Kenyan system of Education.

The month of July inherited June’s cold weather which is well understood here as the Sun is in North giving summer to Northern hemisphere during this time of the year. Such change of weather brings common cold and other related minor health concerns not only to Father Ntaiyia School but to other schools and institutions in the area as well. We make sure that students are taken care of and those who need to visit the Hospital are taken in time in order to avoid anything becoming chronic. Students, especially the little ones, are seen to keep warm and indoors. The cooks try to serve warm meals and a cup of hot tea is always appreciated by all. Most learning activities are usually indoors. As a result of these interventions, our students are able to cope with such weather changes.

SCHOOL LIFE
Fr. Ntaiyia School is not just a learning institution but also a social institution that has for years brought together students, teachers and other workers into one unified family. Our backgrounds are diverse but we uphold unity and teamwork despite our cultural differences. This unity of purpose has not only strengthened our school but also provided a peaceful coexistence which has been transmitted to our students as well. We now boast of students who treat others with dignity and respect. To be able to do this, all those in charge of the various departments have a duty to provide good role models for our students to emulate.

This school environment has made it easier for those joining our institution, especially the third graders to cope with school life as it has become “another home’’ away from home, as they are integrated into the boarding life. Most of our students who are now in their final year have shared their life experiences in school since they were enrolled in the year 2009. They have expressed their gratitude to all those who have supported them materially, morally and spiritually through the years. One of our students, Moses Rinka a Maasai, (now 8th grader), who was enrolled to 3rd Grade 6 years ago has narrated how Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School has prepared him to be a hopeful student who wishes to exploit his academic potentiality. This is the case for many of our past students who are now in high schools. Whenever they visit us here in School, they always have a good story to tell about their life and preparation they got at Fr. Ntaiyia Jubilee School.

ACADEMIC
As expected of any learning institution, Fr. Ntaiyia School pays a lot of attention to the academic development of our students. It is through education that we prepare our children to face the future with confidence. It has always been our staffs’ core responsibility to approach and pursue this goal with undivided commitment. This month provided another chance for our students and teachers to fully utilize the teaching and learning materials made available through the assistance of our school proprietor, Fr. Ntaiyia and many friends and well-wishers he has always talked about saying, “without whom development of the school would have been a long journey.” This communal duty is gradually bearing fruits as evident by the results of the various assessment tests done internally and also jointly with our neighboring Schools in which our students performed exceptionally well. We recently had a joint examination (commonly known as Round Test) for 8th graders with 9 other schools; an exercise which brought together 170 students preparing for the final national examinations in November. Once again the results of the examinations ranked Father Ntaiyia School in position 2 and also produced the best candidate overall. This has greatly motivated our students, teachers and parents to continue working towards attaining the highest level of academic achievement.

As we approach the end of this trimester all students will sit for end-term examinations before they go on a two-week holiday from 12th August to 29th August according to the Ministry of Education Trimester dates.

It is our hope as teachers and other school staff and indeed our benefactors and parents that Fr. Ntaiyia Jubilee School will continue to inspire the present and future students through provision of quality education.

RELIGION
Although it is clear that the founder and proprietor of Fr. Ntaiyia School has very much stressed that no child should be discriminated against their faith during recruitment, we uphold the values of our Nation that Kenya allows for freedom of worship and the wish of the parents that the children be instructed in religion as allowed by the Ministry of Education in Kenya.

We strongly believe that an institution that upholds moral uprightness thrives in its mission. To develop this, we have regular sessions of gatherings every day as permitted, beginning with morning assemblies where we share in scriptures and their applications in real life situations. We also have an official program for religion instructions (PPI) for Christian faith every Wednesday morning. The catechist from our Parish and teachers usually handle these programs. There is also a Catholic Mass celebrated every Saturday evening to allow students to go to Sacrament. These spiritual teachings have enabled the students to know and practice their faith and it our hope that positively shape their characters as expected by their parents.

STUDENT LEADERSHIP
Our students’ leadership composition is an annual event that involves identifying students who can provide leadership in the various sections. The process usually begins at the beginning of the 2nd trimester and ends just before the school closes for August holidays.
The administration announces the openings and the aspiring students submit their written applications to the school administration within the given period. This is then followed by a vetting exercise where teachers play a big role. This is done by conducting interviews to test on their suitability for the applied posts.

To ensure that the rest of the students have a say in the selection of their leaders, we also provide a chance for them to give their views concerning those who have applied. This will ensure a cordial relationship between the student leaders and the other students. Once the council is properly constituted, the leaders are given an orientation on what is expected of them for the good of the School.

EDUCATIONAL TRIPS
These are meant to take learning out of the usual classroom situations. They enable the students to access supplementary methods of learning by visiting places of interest. This year, the students, especially the 8th graders, have requested an educational trip to Nairobi, the Kenya’s capital. They are interested in visiting an animal orphanage that is there, the national museum, the airport and some industrial firms. In the event of such visits our Local Education authority is informed and the place intended to be visited are informed early enough in order that they may prepare to meet and talk to the students and teachers as well as showing them whatever needs to be shown. The parents of each student are expected to meet the calculated cost of transport, meals and other little charges. Father Ntaiyia School anticipates taking the students sometime in September 2016 if all the arrangements are successful.

END OF TRIMESTER AND SCHOOL’S CLOSURE
As the trimester ends, Father Ntaiyia School community looks forward to joining their families back at home. To our students, this means going to be with their families and resting after being in school for a long trimester. Although they will be away for only two weeks, this time will give them a chance to be away from books and school bell.

DEVELOPMENT: In the second week of July excavation of a new boys’ long drop toilet was completed 22 feet deep. I asked the Mason and his team to move from construction of ongoing stone wall to construction of the walls of this toilet. Things seem to have been moving very well and the boys will use their new toilet when they return from August break. Meanwhile a meeting with the Friends of Fr. Ntaiyia Jubilee School BOD meeting deliberated on our ongoing little projects in the School. After relocation of the girls’ and boys’ toilet the perimeter wall will continue as we prepare to construct water tanks base next to the new building (Administration and Library). We hope to harvest rain water from this building by placing plastic water tanks next to it. We thank our generous donors on this water project, a priest and a friend of his from Rochester. This will increase clean drinking water for the students and staff.

The congregation that had Sisters working in Father Ntaiyia School for three years has withdrawn them. The new superior felt it is the right thing to do. I am in discussion with the Bishop of the Diocese Ngong who has to allow a religious order to work in his Diocese that I may look for another congregation. Such a situation is not unusual and must not raise any anxiety regarding the leadership in Fr. Ntaiyia School. The children have had a very successful trimester under the leadership of our Deputy Head Teacher Mr. Chepkowny, teachers and other staff members and as you read this they will be having their August break at home with their families.

Thank you all for supporting my Jubilee School,

Fr. Symon Peter Ntaiyia

HABARI: NEWS JUNE 2016

June is the second month of the second trimester in Kenya’s School year trimester. It has been a busy month of uninterrupted learning as there were no extracurricular activities in the way. In Kenya this month starts with a public holiday June 1st, the day when we commemorated attainment of our internal self-rule in 1963 from British colonizers. Father Ntaiyia School, like any other school, takes leave to join other Kenyans in the celebrations that are led by the Head of State at national level while he is represented by leaders at local level. Our students and staff assemble with the other Kenyans at public stadiums where after entertainments of all kinds and from all walks of life and institutions, the celebration is marked by the Head of State speech to the Nation that is read on his behalf by his representative. For our students it is a day out and an occasion to hear more on the history of our country that encourages sense of patriotism which is expected of every Citizen.

Academic
Teachers have reported that this trimester students have placed more attention on learning and class work and this may have been brought about by academic reports at the end of last trimester. These reports are always in the first term of the new academic year and children get to learn their position and may want to work hard. It is also encouraging that the teachers give children some tests which they call tune up soon after they come from holidays. These tests bring the children to learning disposition placing them back to books. At the end of first trimester all prospective candidates for public examinations at the end take a joined sub county examination with other schools, and the results were out last month. Mr. Chepkwony who is our deputy Head teacher has informed me that Father Ntaiyia School was among 47 other schools with candidates for this examination and was ranked number 2 (two) in overall results. This is good news for children, their parents and friends of the school and gives us hope that we might have good results again this year.
Our teachers and other staff members are happy with the learning environment and have commended the perimeter wall that takes the outside distractions away from children. The School is also able to provide learning materials, especially text books, and what teachers need to do their work for education of children. “We ensure that the academic input needs of our students are given a special attention. This is done through a collective effort by all who assist Father Ntaiyia School including our benefactors,” reported the deputy head teacher.

School Year Calendar
The government of Kenya through the ministry of education has announced a raft of changes in the school academic calendar. Our academic year has been comprised of 39 weeks divided into three trimesters of 13 weeks each. However, this calendar was reorganized into 14, 15 and 10 weeks respectively. The current term will therefore run from 2nd May to 12th August. In addition to these changes, the government has also banned all social activities including annual candidates’ prayer days and parents’ visiting days in third term. This, according to the ministry, is aimed at giving the candidates uninterrupted time to prepare for national examinations as well as trying to stop public examinations irregularities that are reported each ear in various parts of the Country. The third trimester will end on 29th October 2016 when all the other students will go home leaving the candidates to take their examinations before going home.

Parents’ visiting day
Parents’ visiting days attract a large number of visitors in school, parents, guardians and friends. Father Ntaiyia School gives this day respectable attention as we welcome those who have entrusted us with the care of their children. We always want them to be at home in this school even if it is for one day or some hours. There is always joy and tears of joy, and we all understand it is not easy for parents to have their children away from home for one or two months. Father Ntaiyia says that this is the only way now as he recalls his boarding school life as a first grader in 1958. This term’s visiting day was on Saturday June 18th. About 180 visitors came to school though many were inconvenienced by rains experienced in the region. Rains cause transportation problems especially in public means. However, parents and students had a good time sharing learning experiences with the teachers who were ready to receive them and share the report on their children.

Co-curricular activities
This trimester usually has athletics and music festivals, activities which require time for preparation. This involves identifying children who have talents and training them as directed by the Ministry so that they may become participants. Teachers play a big role in identifying the student contestants who may have taken part previously or who have shown interest. They are then taken through practice sessions in the late afternoons after academic classes. This must be done to avoid interruption of learning. The office in charge of sports in the county has the responsibility of drawing the programs for these events.
Music festivals began early June and were to proceed through July and the beginning of August. Father Ntaiyia School was well represented in most of the competitions and our 26 students have proceeded to Provincial level that is the second highest level of these competitions. This level usually draws participants from the best performing schools in the counties.

Sisters: The sisters who for the last three years have provided a Head teacher for my school were called back by their new superior. For the three years they were in the school we had no contract between the school and their congregation. Their superiors were to see the Bishop of the area who may allow them to have a third house in Narok where the school is. The Deputy Head teacher is acting as the Head teacher as required by the system of Education in Kenya.

Development: As I mentioned in the last blog letter, excavation for construction of a new toilet for boys is going on and may take a few more days before the actual construction because of the hard rock they are chipping now. The masons have also resumed construction of the perimeter stone wall and by the first week of July the front border of the school that has a public road will be complete. Visiting parents were pleased that we were building this wall to keep the children away from the growing habitation by plot owners around the school. Now traffic of people, animals and vehicles especially motorbikes.

Thank you all for supporting my Jubilee School

Fr. Symon Peter Ntaiyia

HABARI: NEWS MAY 2016

In Kenya, elementary (primary) education, calendar year starts in January and ends in November. The academic year is divided into a trimester system that divides the academic year into three terms of about 14 weeks each, the time during which an educational institution holds classes. April, August and December are usually school holidays.

I am informed that the parents brought their children back to school in the first week of May without weather difficulties. There was no rain during the first few days of May and this means travelling was easy from remote places to where the school is. There are few children who can walk from home to school but most of them can make it to school in one day. Often the opening day is on a Monday unless it falls on a public holiday. Monday however, is not the easiest day for parents; some of them may need someone to be at home with the rest of the children or may have more than one child to take to a school away from home.

On arrival at school parents are expected to have done a little shopping for essential items such as soaps, pencils, pens and copy books and such as their child may need during the three months they are going to be in school. Some children may need a new pair of shoes or uniform. There is also a visiting day after about seven weeks and parents will come to visit their children in school.

At school the teachers and other staff wait and welcome the children as they arrive back from holidays. They make sure the children report to the Head teacher’s office for registration which shows they are back, as well as parents who must report on their fees payment which is expected to be paid directly into the school account at a bank and then submit the payment receipt to the school. They may as well use this opportunity to discuss with the Head teacher or class teacher any report that may have been carried by their child’s report form. Learning and other school activities started well and are going on as expected.

Generally it is reported that children had good holidays, climate was good and no harsh drought or famine. There has been reasonable harvests of stable food and animals are healthy in most of the Country. This means that apart from ordinary ups and downs in life, people are generally happy with life and it is good to have children visit homes in this kind of atmosphere.

Teachers have reported that children have made good progress in the past few months and I have encouraged the teachers and other staff members to continue taking their duties seriously because that is why they are there with the children. There have been rains since the school resumed and common cold is unavoidable during such weather. Malaria can attack as well during such weather if there is a lot of stagnant water in the compound.

Two Sisters (nuns) who had been working in the school did not resume their duties when the school opened in early May. I have no information to share about this other than I communicated with their superior in April regarding having a contract between the school and her congregation regarding their services in school.

DEVELOPMENT: Friends of Fr. Ntaiyia Jubilee School Board of Directors (BOD) has had two meetings this year, to firstly write acknowledgement and ‘Thank You’ letters to our friends/ donors and secondly to deliberate on the ongoing and required development in the school using the donations we received in 2015, especially around Christmas time when in the spirit of no gift is too small our friends share season’s joy by a donation /gift to Fr. Ntaiyia School. We first and foremost sort out the donations that have been given for a specific purpose such as to pay school fees / tuition for needy children or buy learning materials such as text books in respect with the intention of the donor.

After designating the school fees money, we have bought new text books for 7th graders because they are a double class now. We have made 10 more desks each for 3 children, we have made 10 benches for use in the dining room and we have replaced part of an electricity cable to carry 3- phase power because our original one was for single phase as we were then using a generator. We have also bought 100 chairs and 24 tables for use in the Library and computer room with money left over from the dissolution of the cooperation that initially supported the building of the school.

CONSTRUCTIONS: Other ongoing development in Fr. Ntaiyia Jubilee School is relocating of the original two pit latrines one for girls and one for boys. This is because after construction of the Administration block and Library, the original latrines became far too near these buildings. The work involves excavation of a pit 3 by 6 feet to 22 feet deep and constructing the base, and walls subdividing the base to six lavatories. At the moment a new toilet for girls is ready and they are using it and excavation for construction of a new one for boys is going on now, hopefully will be ready by August.

The Board of Directors (BOD) has also discussed the construction of the stone perimeter wall project which covers about 1736 feet of which only 263 feet had been done last November while Fr. Symon was in Kenya. We are also considering purchasing essential tools for schools maintenance workshop.

This year we have a total of 267 children in school as indicated by the chart below. You will note that we have a double class seven meaning we shall have seventy-three (73) examination candidates in the year 2017. Our double class started three years ago when I felt we needed to have them in order to make use of the room we have in the Dormitories and two class rooms that are usually not used for learning because we do not have first and second graders which leaves us with two free class rooms in the school. First and second graders are far too small to be boarding in school.

GRADE / CLASS BOYS GIRLS
3 13 8 21
4 22 30 52
5 21 21 42
6 25 23 48
7 West 22 14 36
7 East 22 15 37
8 19 12 31
144 123 267

I am because we are

Fr. Symon Ntaiyia

 

HABARI NEWS MARCH 2016

REPORT ON THE SCHOOL’S MAJOR ACTIVITIES: TERM 1 2016

A well-known African proverb states that “it takes a whole village to raise a child” meaning that a child’s upbringing is a communal effort or that a child has the best ability to become a healthy adult if the entire community takes an active role in contributing to the rearing of the child. In application to our situation on this proverb we want to uphold that it is the responsibility of parents and the school community to bring up the children in Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School. We all have a role and duty to cooperate in this duty. This is certainly projected in the idea that this school has been set up to soundly give students a strong foundation for proper education in order to prepare them to reach their fullest potential and for success in what they ought to be. We the teaching staff and other school staff can affirm this as we have seen it in the efforts of the parents and all of us year after year since this school was started.

It has indeed been ten years of an enriching journey since its inception up to date. The Institution’s Mission through the years has been to provide education as the tool that will take our people forward to embrace changes to modern life and promote literacy and prosperity that benefits community’s collective purpose. Once again the above mentioned proverb is at home here.

Guided by the above insights, we have realized in Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School, promising academic standards along with co-curricular activities that give us hope for the future for our learners. We provide education as the tool that will take our people forward to embrace changes to modern life and promote literacy and prosperity that benefits community’s collective purpose. This is so because we believe we have provided a platform to our students to showcase their talents and discover a new facet of their personality.

Our students actively support social issues like environmental conservation; we teach them how to plant and take care of trees and other planting on our compound. Unfortunately goats and other plant-eating animals come in and destroy but we hope that the new perimeter stone wall being built by Father Ntaiyia will keep the animals off. We also teach our students how to keep the compound clean and free of garbage. Our students learn peaceful co-existence regardless of where they come from or what tribe they may belong to. Our endeavor is also to encourage leadership qualities in our students. As a result of this we have a responsible students’ leadership body or council of prefects.

Our approach to education that is geared not only to academics is seen and reported alongside positive reports we are getting regarding our increasing list of alumni who have made good names for themselves and Father Ntaiyia School in the high schools they joined after our School. We value any available opportunity that may benefit us in developing our students into accomplished members of the society.

JANUARY 2016: NEW YEAR AND CHANGES

January 4, 2016 was schools official opening day for the New Year. This comes a few days after ushering in a new year and usually comes with a lot of excitement such as the beginning of another academic term. Students had been out for their long November – December holiday marked with a lot of festivities.

Most teachers and subordinates reported to school earlier in order to receive the pupils with their parents and as our tradition, a staff meeting was held to officially launch the kick -off of the term’s activities. This was also a forum where teachers were allocated their teaching responsibilities for students’ academic progress and co-curricular programs.

By the end of the first week, most of the pupils had reported and learning had begun. Our former class 8 candidates (graduates), who had just received their Kenya Certificate of Primary School Education or KCPE (public examination) results, started coming to collect their results that are usually mailed to the School. They expressed their joy and appreciation for the good work done by all involved in ensuring that their stay in school was a success that has promised to take them to their future. They looked forward to securing places in high schools for their further education.

In the first and second weeks of the school year we at Father Ntaiyia School experienced changes in the student and staff body. With regards to the students we witnessed an increase in the enrollment with new students being admitted to various classes (grades) but mainly in third which is our first intake. The school office was busy from morning to late in the evening with parents bringing in the new students and the office making sure that the needed requirements detailed in the invitation letter have been met. By the end of the second week, the student population was 264 and this was 10 students more than we had last year.

We also received new members of staff who replaced those who had taken employment with the Government.

On 19th January 2016, our head teacher, Sr. Pauline informed the school community that she had been transferred by her superior to another school and that we were getting another Sister to head our school. This was highly unexpected but as they say some changes in life are inevitable. We held a meeting that brought together all the school employees to express our thanks and wish her well in her new appointment. In the meeting she asked the community to continue working together as the school prepared to embrace the new changes. Both students and staff felt we were going to miss her presence and leadership but as an African saying has it, “one knows where you are coming from but you do not know where you are going” we walk in hope that the future has some blessings for us.

In the afternoon of 21st accompanied by three religious sisters and four gentlemen our new head teacher Sister Angela paid us a visit and later we learned that those who were in her company were teachers and support staff from the school she had been heading. After their brief time in our school office, they were given a guided tour of the school and thereafter left. Our new head teacher was expected to begin her administrative duties on 28th January.

FEBRUARY 2016: BUSY MONTH

With the new head teacher in the school we embarked on a vigorous process on the term’s (trimester’s) activities. On top of the list included 2016 KCPE (public examination) Registration for our final class, ball games, and parents’ visiting day. According to the circular from the ministry of education, registration of candidates was to be online as it has been in the past years. This process required the candidates to select their preferred (High Schools) secondary school choices following the Ministry of Education guidelines, verifying the details in their birth certificates and uploading the entries in the directed website. The final report on registration is an online nominal roll which has to be printed and signed by the candidates to confirm the registration data. Towards the end of the month, 31 candidates had their registration details confirmed. The exercise was to officially end not later than 31st March 2016 when registration fees would have been paid to the Ministry for every candidate.

PARENTS’ VISITING DAY: Visiting day comes once a trimester and welcomes most if not all parents/guardians accompanied by some relatives who come to visit students here in the school; little sisters and brothers also come. It has been our tradition to have visiting days on the 2nd Saturday of the second month of every term (trimester). This term’s visiting day was on 20th February. A week before this day, the students sit for mid-term examinations so that the results of each child would be shared with his/her visiting parents. This term’s visiting day recorded the highest number (more than 300) of visitors. Teachers got enough time to discuss the progress of the students with their parents/guardians. On this day the parents bring food to share with their children and some photographers are allowed to come and take pictures of parents with their children for future memories. At the end of the day everyone had an interesting story to tell when they get back home.

MARCH: EVENTFUL MONTH OF FIRST TERM OF THE YEAR

Co-curricular activities have been earmarked for the better part of March in the first semester of the school year in Kenya. Our staff in charge of the sports event has been training the students preparing them by organizing inter-classes competitions to enable the students to reveal their abilities and talents in various games. This helps the trainers in motivating and nurturing sportsmanship and team work in the students.

Once the schedule for the co-curricular activities (ball games) is released by the County Education Office, it paves the way for the schools to present their participants in the competitions. The schedule indicated that the schools were to meet at the inter-school level (clusters); bringing together schools within their respective zones.

Our school was represented by 63 players for football (soccer), volleyball and netball, both boys and girls. The players posted very impressive performance by winning soccer boys, volleyball boys and volleyball girls and a good number was selected to participate in the zonal games competitions. This motivated the students and they displayed strong determination to improve on their skills in various games. Indeed, they proved that our school has potential for games. Towards the end of the month, the ball games were being concluded at the County level where 8 of our students had been selected to represent the sub-county.

Besides official school life activities, Father Ntaiyia has allowed those students whose parents give permission, to be instructed in spiritual matters and this is done under the supervision of the priests of our local Parish in whose area the School is situated. The students who take instruction and are willing with permission of their parents are received in the Church. On 13th March 2016, our 31 students received the Sacrament of Confirmation at our local Parish. This was during a very colorful ceremonial Mass presided over by the Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Ngong. This and other liturgical sessions are available for students whose parents permit and want their children to be nourished.

On academics, learning continued on and as it should be, uninterrupted by the co-curricular activities. As usual teachers covered their trimester work as required. In this school our teachers are always in class as they are supposed to be without fail and for this reason they have time to pay attention to all learners. The end of trimester examinations done by all schools within the sub-county began a few weeks before the official closing date on 8th April 2016.

The beginning of April holidays marked the end of the first trimester and the students went home for three-week holiday. As this happens, the students are already informed about the second term’s activities including athletics and music festivals which are expected to kick off in the middle of next term.

To all our benefactors and friends: This report which covers our three months school life, has been compiled with information from Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School Log book by teachers and the Deputy Head teacher Mr. Johnstone Chepkuony. I have edited and most of it may bear minor clarification on areas that may be known to Kenyans and not to our other readers (Term = Semester = Trimester) (Class =grade)

I will be writing on other development on infrastructure and what is going on this year.

http://frntaiyiajubileeschool.org/. or Google: Friends of Father Ntaiyia School.

Always thanking Friends of Father Ntaiyia.

Fr. Symon

HABARI: NEWS JAN. AND FEB. 2016

Dear Friends of Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School

Beginning of the new school year in Kenya and especially the month of January had exciting moments. As students return to school from their long December break they look forward to hearing the news of the previous year’s examination results. They also get eager to join higher or next grade, how the classes will be during the new year and what teacher or teachers will be involved in teaching them what subjects.

Some years it happens that there may be a change of teaching staff members who may wish to go to other places or take a job with the government and in their place we employ new teachers. Early in January this year the superior to the religious sisters who work in my school decided to move our head teacher and replaced her with another sister and also move a teaching sister but did not replace her. At the moment we have two religious sisters in the school on heading it and the other in the domestic section. Our new head teacher is Sister Angela who has been a teacher for twelve years and a head teacher for eight years and with so many years in the teaching profession it does not take long for her to get used to her administrative job in the school, new environment, new staff and students. She brings very welcome computer skills and experience that will benefit Father Ntaiyia Jubilee school community. Sister Angela and the other new staff members Karibuni = welcome to Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School.

NEW STUDENTS 2016
The arrival of our new students, the third graders this year went well even though the head teacher who had recruited them was leaving by the time they were reporting, but she had plenty of time to get the school going for the start of the year before she handed over to her successor.
On coming to join Father Ntaiyia School for the first time the children find themselves in a new physical environment. The classroom is new, most of the classmates are strangers, and the center of authority (the head teacher and the class teacher) is a stranger too. The structured way of learning is also new. If, in addition to these things, there is an abrupt change in the language of interaction, then the situation can get quite complicated but each year the new students familiarize quickly with the help of the older students and our school staff. Generally we recruit most of our students to join class 3 or third graders; this year however, we had 70 new students distributed in all the grades but 7 and 8. This year in the second week of February we had 262 enrolled children in the school and this is about 20 children more than we had last year.

EXTRA CURRICULUM: January through March is the first trimester of the school year in Kenya. Apart from the obvious academic undertaking students have ball games and drama for extra curriculum. The ball games football or soccer, hand ball and volley ball are played by both boys and girls. Competitions start at inter local schools level and will end at County level. And by the time they will be competing at the last levels the trimester will he coming to the end. Another co-curricular activity that goes on during this trimester in Kenya school is Drama festivals. The goal of the festivals is to tap and nurture creative talent of the Kenyan child. Its objective is to promote a sense of nationalism and to provide a forum for the Kenyan learners to interact and co-exist peacefully as members of one cohesive Kenyan family. The National Drama festivals draw participation among others from institutions like Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School and that is why our students train to compete in Play and Cultural Creative Dance.

PARENTS’ VISITING DAY: Many schools in Kenya break each trimester for what they call half-term break. During the few days of this break, normally less than a week, students go home for a short visit and return to school with some of the needed items. For students to go home from a school like Fr. Ntaiyia Jubilee School it involves parents coming to take the children and return them at the end of the break that may come six weeks after the beginning of the trimester. For some families such trips are expensive and time consuming. Sometimes it is not easy to travel especially in bad rainy weather. I very much recall such happenings to us when I was in a boarding school. Sometimes we had to walk for many hours. Because of this I encouraged parents visiting day during the half-term break. During this day parents come to visit their children and bring them the supplies needed such as soaps. Depending on what time they arrive parents get an opportunity to meet their child’s class teacher and discuss the performance of their child.
Parents of children who are in Fr. Ntaiyia School for the first time become eager to know how their children are doing in their new School in comparison with where they transferred from. In many cases children from other schools indicate being behind the syllabus or are not ready for the new grade and teachers have to work hard to bring them to the expected standard.
Saturday February 20, was parents’ visiting day and it was reported it was very well done; parents came in time and they had plenty of time to visit and share the food they bring to share with their children. Some take chairs and gather at some place in the compound, others in the schools large dining room where many families can take a table for themselves. At about 3pm some parents start leaving for their homes and gradually things start going back to normal but this being Saturday the following day is also aftermath of parents visit and excitement remains high.

DIRECTORS OF SCHOOL CHARITY
You will recall that in the last newsletter, I mentioned we formed a cooperation known as Friends of Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School, Inc. that has been given Public Charity Status – 501 (c) (3) that allows donors to deduct contributions they make to the school. We realized some donations around Christmas from well-wishers as it has been in the past few years. I am thankful to friends who have continued this support. The Directors of this charity have had meetings to look into things that the school may need to be done in the line of development. It is my hope we shall continue with perimeter stone fence which I started and which many parents of our school children have very much praise.

Fr. Symon


2015

HABARI: NEWS DECEMBER 2015

Dear Friends,

The year of 2015 has been as normal as any other year in my ministry doing all the things that I normally do.  Those things that especially keep me active year by year are:  Weekend and weekday liturgies mostly in our two churches and with help of other priests we have ten Sundays during summer in one of our mission churches I had a year with many meetings because of our Parish Jubilee.
One of the most beautiful events this year in our parish is entering our Jubilee year whose inauguration was graced by our Bishop in September with a Holy Mass. The Jubilee year goes through September 2016. We are celebrating fifty years since our Church St. Mary’s of the Lake one of the three Churches of St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish relocated to our present site. The Jubilee year is full of activities and so far our four months events for Jubilee have been very successful.

FATHER NTAIYIA JUBILEE SCHOOL KENYA
Many friends and well-wishers of my school will remember that Friends of Father Symon Jubilee School 501 (c) (3) Charity has been in the process of being dissolved by friends who helped to register it some years back. It has been clear over the years that I had aimed at setting the School to be self-sustaining; however, I must say that gifts and donations from well-wishers have been helping the school to meet some expenditures such as purchase of text books, learning material and some repairs. This makes it possible to keep school fees affordable for parents and without increasing it to cater for such expenses. For the last four years we have been charging about $100 per trimester (3 months or 90 days) per student, this is about $1.11 a day per student in my school. Most of the schools in our neighborhood charge almost twice our fees. So far we have been able to manage despite challenging increases of prices of food and learning materials.
Because of the great assistance realized by donations through 501 (c) (3) Charity for education of children in this school, I discussed the need for 501 (c) (3) status for the school with our parishioners who know and have donated to the school in the past and we formed a cooperation known as Friends of Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School. Inc. that was registered and by June 2015 we were given Public Charity Status – 501 (c) (3) that allows donors to deduct contributions they make to us. The document also indicated we are also qualified to receive tax deductible bequests, devises, transfers and others as stated in the IRS letter to us. It is my hope that through this charity status we shall realize donations that will keep our school fees affordable for the poor families who bring their children to Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School.

MY VISIT TO KENYA THIS YEAR: Another highlight was my trip to Kenya this year. You will recall I did not go to Kenya as I had planned after my sabbatical in Rome at the end of 2014 because the Bishop called me back for fear of Ebola that was in West Africa. My trip this year was well calculated for me to be in my school before the children ended the school year and to be with the examination candidates as they had their examinations and ending their six years stay in my school. Generally the students, teachers and other staff are well and in good spirits which is very encouraging. Students are happy, the compound is clean, and activities are well organized. Student leaders have a good sense of responsibility. I had three meetings with the teachers and a general meeting with all staff. We twice had a visit from officers from the county office of education and I can report that things are going along well at the school.
As I was occasionally meeting members of my family and being with the students in the school, I went about doing a few things I had intended to do during this visit. I ordered 100 students’ chairs to be made in a local Parish workshop. Fifty chairs will go to the computer lab and fifty to the Library. All the chairs were ready and delivered to the school in the second week of November.

STONE PERIMETER WALL FOR SCHOOL: When I acquired the lot for constructing my school in 2004 the location had very few people or families living there. In a very short time the land owners started subdividing land and selling to people who were being attracted by cheap prices. Gradually many people bought land around the school, some later sold it to others and others built whatever structure they could afford and settled there. Some locals bring cows, goats and sheep to graze around. Within the first few days of my visit I noticed that there are many animals that are coming to the school compound through broken places of our barb wire fence. Donkeys and stray dogs come in trying to scavenge around. One day during this visit as I was talking with one of the teachers outside the school office, a cow came running in wildly in the compound while our third graders were playing outside. The little ones went running in all directions as the teacher and I went to drive the cow out. Without much explanation of the potential danger I decided to start constructing a stone perimeter fence that will protect the five acre lot of the school where the buildings are and where children live most of the time. I had hoped to cover about a third of the perimeter before returning to the US but this was not possible financially; however the project will gradually continue.

OUR 2015 CLASS: The second week of November we had final examination for our graduating class. We had 39 candidates for this public examination which was our largest number since the school began taking this examination four years ago. We already had a prayer day for the candidates a week before and their parents had come for that prayer day that turned out to be like a visiting day. Students had a rehearsal on Monday, Nov. 9, followed by three days of examination. The last day of exams ended by lunch time and as they came out of the examination room the other students were there to congratulate them. We had lunch prepared for them which they shared with the staff. Then we gave them time to return to the school all the items such as text books they had been given and then packing their personal belongings ready for their last journey home from our school. It was emotional as they sang and told us they were leaving and it was clear that they will never be together as they have been as a class.
There were emotional intervals with the other students especially when parents came the following day to take those who were leaving our school for good. Most of them had been with us for six years and there was reason to feel that members of our school community were leaving us. The rest of the students had a week to go with end of year examination and after they left for their long break until early January, I also had a week before returning to the US. Each day in the school is a joy of its own; children are coming to school these days at a younger age, looking smaller each year. The little ones, third graders kept reminding me that they were waiting to see me to visit for one year. They had known that when Father Ntaiyia comes he welcomes the new comers and both students and all members of staff get a treat of a special meal together. This happened on Friday afternoon October 30. With indigenous African applaud, our celebration went on and was a happy afternoon for all of us.

Once again the joyous day is here in which we join our sisters and brothers all over the world in celebrating the Nativity of our Lord Jesus. As you gather with your family and friends, may Jesus grant you Joy and Peace

Fr. Symon

HABARI: NEWS SEPTEMBER 2015

For the whole month of September public schools teachers in Kenya have been on strike, meaning there has been no teaching and learning in public elementary schools and high schools. Learning in private schools (Fr. Ntaiyia Jubilee Primary School operates as a private school) was going on smoothly until a circular issued from the Ministry of Education ordered all public and private schools in the country to close on September 21. Many private schools ignored the order, but public schools had to comply. My school (Father Ntaiyia Jubilee Primary School) however, closed and the children were sent home as we monitored the situation. The children in the class that is waiting for public examination was left in school and their classes carried on as usual.
After one week it came out clearly argued that Private schools teachers have no issue with their employers and the children in private schools have no reason to be away from their classes and for this reason I asked that the students be called back to school after being home for a week. Our students are back and learning is continuing as usual. The decision to close the private schools was viewed as illegal and against the rights of the private school owners and the children. A lawyer for Kenya Private Schools Association argued that the directive was placing the owners of such schools in a dilemma over school fees paid for the trimester. He said that there was a binding agreement between parents and the Private Schools to have children in school until November 13 the last day of the third trimester of 2015, allowing the students to break for end of the year holidays.
However, on Saturday 3 October 2015 at noon, Teachers Strike was suspended and teachers resumed duty on Monday 5 October 2015. The union leaders said that the strike has not been called off but that it has been suspended for 90 days. The students in public schools returned to classes after missing learning due to the teachers’ strike that paralyzed learning in public primary and secondary schools for a month.
As examinations approach, it is normal for students to get anxious, and this anxiety could hurt their performance. Anxiety leads to panic and feelings of inadequacy. Teachers play a big role in preparing the candidates mentally for examinations. It is all psychological; teachers supervise and mark (grade) the examinations. The teachers’ strike has had a multitude of other effects, including creating major challenges to parents taking care of their children at home. But the more often cited impact in the crusade against any teachers’ right to strike is on student learning. The logic here is simple: students cannot learn if they are not in school.
Apart from the strike issue and the week that children in Fr. Ntaiyia School had a break, learning has been going on well and I am glad to report that communication with the teaching staff and the other school staff indicates that things have been going along well there. I have also been in steady communication with the head teacher and she assured me that things have been moving forward well. Our class of this year seems to be well prepared to face the examinations. I called and the head teacher had her phone on speaker and I talked to the class. They are happy to be in a school that was not interrupted by the strike. It is our prayer and hope that our students will do well and that there may not be general effects of teachers’ strike on public examinations.
TEACHERS: I mentioned in the past that the teachers we employ are trained in the system required by the Kenya Ministry of Education and we are usually employing those who may be looking for an opportunity to secure a job with the government because it is better paid, has other benefits and a better pension scheme. This month two of our teachers have secured a job with the government and they had to leave immediately after the teachers’ strike. We have been able to reach two teachers who applied for a teaching job and are able to come to school which means the students will not miss their classes.

VISITING KENYA: As I mentioned in my July blog letter, I was not able to make my planned visit to Kenya that was to follow my Sabbatical last November because I was called back to the US due to concern about Ebola which was being reported in West Africa. After I settled down to my work in the Parish after Rome, we have been busy preparing for a Golden Jubilee year, 50 years since our present St. Mary’s of the Lake Church was built relocating the Parish from Main Street of the village of Ontario, NY. After preparing for a year our Bishop Rt. Rev. Salvatore R. Matano officially opened our Jubilee year on September 13 with a Mass. This year I wanted to visit Kenya when our graduating class is taking their final and public examinations and the other students preparing to end their year of examinations. I will be in Kenya between October 24 and Thanksgiving Day. I will be able to meet for the first time the students who were enrolled early this year and during the year. I will also meet the parents when they will come to take their children home for December break. As usual, I hope to visit members of my family and intend to work in the school.
THE SCHOOL: Friends of Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School has a website and we have constructed the main pages on http://frntaiyiajubileeschool.org/. Friends of Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School have formed a nonprofit organization that is now a 501 (c) (3) so donations that may benefit the school are tax exempt. Hopefully we shall have possibility of receiving donations online.
Fr. Symon Peter Ntaiyia
5823 WALWORTH RD
ONTARIO NY 14519

HABARI: NEWS AUGUST 2015

PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Once again the Teachers in public schools have gone on strike just as the children are returning from a four weeks holiday to a very busy trimester that has public standardized examination to be done in about eight weeks. They are the examinations that determine the end of elementary education and the end of High School studies in Kenyan system of education. Teachers know very well that they and students have to take the time left seriously to cover the syllabus and do revision before the date of examination.
The boycott has been called to press the government to pay them higher salaries and the Union of Teachers has warned that they would only call off the strike if the new salaries are paid as directed by the court. Although all the schools opened on Monday, August 31, public school teachers have been on a go-slow, awaiting instructions from their union. Local papers in Kenya have reported that Parents have been instructed to keep the children at home as this fight for pay continues.
A Standard Eight (eighth grader) pupil at one of the primary schools said the strike hurt her preparations for national exams which start next month. “Our hopes of performing well in our Kenya Certificate of Primary Examination exams is shattered if the strike continues,” she said.
Two weeks after the strike started the public school teachers and the Government have not come to a settlement and the Ministry of Education is considering closing public schools due to the ongoing teachers’ strike. However, the minister ruled out postponement of national examinations scheduled to start next month. The Education minister admitted that a large number of students in public primary and secondary schools and other institutions had gone largely untaught since the term began on September 1 due to the strike which started the following day.
The minister has appealed to all teachers to return to work in the interest of parents and children, especially those who will be taking the national exams.
In a case like this many students will not have covered the expected syllabus for examinations which means they will not be well prepared for furthering their studies either in High School for the elementary school candidates and college studies for those who are completing their High School studies.

FATHER NTAIYIA JUBILEE SCHOOL: Like all private schools our teachers are not on strike because they are not under the country’s teachers’ union. But with general announcement that teachers are on strike there rises a degree of confusion and parents, especially those in remote places who have children in private schools, may not decide immediately to bring their children back to school in fear that after a long trip by public means they could return home with their children. However, with the help of cell phones services most of them can call the school and would be able to know that learning is going on in the School.
Report from Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School indicated that learning has been continuing and that all children’s activities for this trimester are moving along well. It is my hope that our candidates for the public examination this year will do well and that the general effects of the public schools teachers’ strike in the country will not affect their performance.

EDUCATION FOR ALL GLOBAL MONITORING: There is a disturbing report that one million children are still out of school in Kenya. While this is almost half the number in 1999 it is still the ninth highest of any country in the world. The report further says that primary education is not of sufficient quality to ensure that all children can learn the basics. Among young men aged 15-29 years who had left school after six years of schooling, 6% were illiterate and 26% were semi-illiterate. The figures are even worse for young women, with 9% illiterate and 30% semi-literate after being in school for six years.
The proportion of semi-literate or illiterate women after six years of schooling has worsened in recent years: In 2003 24% were in this situation compared with 39% in 2008. In many cases it has been found that less than a third of children enrolled in Grade 3 have basic Grade 2 level literacy and numeracy skills; a significant number of children do not possess foundational Grade 2 level skills even as they approach the end of the primary school cycle in some areas. The readers will recall that each year I have reported how teachers in Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School have to work hard to bring new children to the standard expected of them after they transfer to us from other schools.

It is reported that progress in education is not reaching the marginalized (nomadic – Maasai) people. The poor, and girls most of all have less chance of making it to school. In 2008, in Nairobi capital of Kenya almost all children from rich households had been to school, whether boy or girl. But a good percentage of poor girls and girls living in some Nomadic areas had never been to school. Secondary schools are also out of the reach for the poor because even after the abolition of school fees, it is said indirect costs are still twelve to twenty times as much as the monthly income of parents of rural areas, leaving secondary school out of reach for the poorest households.

Fr. Symon

HABARI: NEWS JULY 2015

Schools in Kenya have taken the second trimesters holidays or August holidays. It has been a busy time since the first week. We have a few new students who joined the school this trimester and this becomes those who transfer from other schools. All extra school activities went on well during the term and 27 of our students were able to travel outside the county for competitions with other schools. The teachers have reported that there is good progress in academic performance at the end of the trimester as children were going home for break. Some of our teachers are now able to work with computers in school and the local examination results are very clear. Looking at the report of our final class this year it seems as if we have able students.
There have been sad occasions in the last three months as two of your students lost their dads in different times and different places during the term. We had the school represented during the funerals. Our matron also lost her brother in a car accident and two weeks ago one of our former students died after a short illness. His home was not far from the school and he was in his third year in high school.

COST OF LIVING IN KENYA: Cost of living is to go up as shilling (Kenya currency) slides to down against the US dollar and this means petroleum prices  are likely to go up. This will further pile pressure on the cost of goods and services, including transport. If the cost of transporting beans maize, milk and other consumables goes up, this could lead to an increase in food prices.
Analysts attributed the weakening of the shilling to the strengthening of the dollar; as a result, the cost of living is likely to go up, because the country will spend more to import petroleum products. Since fuel prices are going up and there are no signs of a slowdown, the cost of living is expected to rise. This will make life harder for Schools trying to keep things going with the same amount of school fees that I set seven years ago.

VISIT TO KENYA: A few people have asked about my visiting Kenya and especially the school this year. As you all know I was not able to make my planned visit last year because I was called back to the US after my sabbatical in Rome. After some months I did not know whether the ban to go to Africa because of Ebola was lifted by our Bishop but I came to know that some priest had visited Kenya early in the year.
After reviewing how things have been going, I had to go through Easter season while a demanding activity had come our way in the Parish. St. Mary’s of the Lake Church that is one of St. Maximillian Parish that I serve is going to celebrate Golden Jubilee since the present Church was built relocating the Parish from Main street of the village of Ontario NY. I formed a committee to plan for a whole year of activities for this Jubilee that will be inaugurated by our Bishop in September this year.
This committee got other subcommittees and has been active since with meetings and many undertakings that should see us through a spiritual journey of one year before the closing of the Jubilee year in September 2016. My presence has been required in most of the planning and often I have to say what I had in mind when I thought of a one-year spiritual journey for our Jubilee. The planning has been a great success, thank God for people with gifts of leadership, those talents they did not want to bury in the ground or lamp that they did not want to cover under a vessel. I did not want to go before the inauguration of the Jubilee year.

EDUCATION AND POVERTY: Kenya has been ranked sixth among top 10 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa with large populations living in extreme poverty. And the country will not be able to combat poverty by 2030 unless radical measures are taken to rescue the 18 million people under the poverty line, says a study by the Institute of Security Studies.
The study, Reasonable Goals for Reducing Poverty in Africa, says, failure to reduce poverty is threatening Kenya’s economic success. The study further reveals that although Kenya and other Sub-Saharan countries have experienced reasonable economic growth, they have failed to translate this growth into poverty reduction. The reporters said: although Kenya and many other African countries hoped to end extreme poverty by 2030, many would miss the target.
It is reported that because Kenya was relatively unequal, with growth restricted to urban areas, the country still had a long way to go to end poverty. He said a high population increase, mismanagement of resources and setting of short term goals by politicians to win elections were also contributing to the slow elimination of poverty.
“Poverty will come down at a relatively quick rate but the country will not reach the goal of alleviating poverty by 2030,” he said. “Kenya needs to invest more in basic education, infrastructure and in finding a way to get to the poor.”

FREE EDUCATION AND LAPTOPS IN KENYA
Parents with children in public primary and secondary schools will not pay a single cent in the next three years, according to the President of Kenya. He said the government is keen to ensure learning at both levels is “truly free” which is why the government has raised the amount of money allocated to each learner this year. “The aim is to make primary and secondary education wholly free by 2018. This will be welcome news for parents who are still paying fees to supplement tuition fees the government pays.
The President of Kenya said he is determined to provide a laptop to each standard one (first grader) pupil. He said the ongoing school electrification program, which will see every primary school connected to electricity, will also enable our pupils to receive and make use of the laptops promised as part of our transformation program. He has also asked the Ministry of Education to ensure it provides a laptop to each of the 21,000 (public) schools while ensuring 6,000 teachers are trained.
I am not sure what this will mean to a school like Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School. If it will be successful it may mean that all learning institutions may have to provide some computer learning.
The schools are on August break and will be reporting back in the first week of September.

Fr. Symon Peter Ntaiyia

HABARI: NEWS MAY / JUNE 2015

Last Habari: News April 2015 covered the beginning of the second trimester and the children reporting after Easter break. The children gradually settled to school work even though they were curious of the flash floods that had swept through the town a few days before their return. Painful reports are still being shared by families on the damage, loss of property and uncertainty of recovery from the floods.

THIRD GRADERS: Our third graders are always new each year to Jubilee School because it is in this class that we receive our news students who come from different parts of the Maasai districts and from various schools, some very remote in every learning aspect such that some children do not know what they are expected to have learned at their age and school level. I had a telephone conversation with the class teacher who is also our deputy head teacher and he told me that about ten out of thirty third graders were not prepared for the school work in that grade as required. He had to work with the whole class in such a way that each child could be at the same level and this means going slowly while at the same time trying to cover the syllabus at the end of the trimester and keeping the rest of the students at the standard pace. Some parents were happy to know that their children were making progress and felt more will be done in order to give children confidence. This enabled the teachers to find out if the children had not had a good chance to develop well in their former schools.

FINAL CLASS THIS YEAR: Our head teacher Sr. Pauline and her deputy Mr. Mosonic have informed me that we have promising candidates in our final class this year. The class has more students this year than we had in the last two years and we have thirty-nine students who will take final examinations at the end of the year. Mock (imitating) examinations results with other schools indicated that our children are ranking well. I am hoping that the grades are going to improve in the remaining months before the public examinations at the end of the year.

SURPRISE TELEPHONE CALL: I called our head teacher on Saturday June 27, 2015 to catch up with school news and among other things she informed me that one of our girl pupils was admitted in a local hospital and that she had called her parents from a remote area to come and be with their child. It is one thing for children to be in a boarding school away from home and a different experience to be admitted in a hospital away from home. I asked whether the parents have a cell phone and if I could have their number. I made a phone call and got the parents who were at the bed side in the hospital with their child. It was a surprise, I said I am Father Ntaiyia and I am calling from America to wish their daughter a quick recovery. I also talked with the pupil who knows me and was very thrilled hearing me on phone. The parents told me that she will be discharged in two days. This call will be a talk of the year.

EXTRA-CURRICULUM: I have explained in the past that extra-curriculum plays a vital role in the development of students in the Kenyan system of Education like in many other countries. The training for various activities takes place during the first and second trimester. The third trimester is mostly occupied with academics as students prepare for public examinations and end of the year exams that prepare them for promotion to the next grade in the following year. This trimester the students are busy with Music and I was informed that some of our students are practicing verses or poetries and dramatized dance. Other activities are athletics that include long races and short races. Here we allow the children to take part without expecting much because most of them are very small these days for the level of grades they are. Our deputy head teacher Mr. Mosonik informed me that out of 9 activities that were assigned to every school in the county for competition Fr. Ntaiyia Jubilee School students were able to place in three of them and 29 of our students are going for competition with other schools outside the county.

GENERAL EDUCATION REPORTS

There have been remarkable reports on education by prominent people in Kenya carried by new papers. The Daily Nation reported on April 29 this year that some teachers do not understand the curriculum = (program of study) Syllabus = (course outline) they are required to teach, a study has revealed. This has been blamed on lack of support from the government and other training institutions. A Global Monitoring Education for All 2000-2015 report which was officially released by Kenyan Education Cabinet Secretary in April 2015 further reveals that older teachers in the country lose skills over time due to lack of in-service training and that most of the teachers who are furthering their education are doing so at their own costs.
The report notes that there was lack of innovative (inventive) teaching methods in private schools in Kenya, with public schools having more scope to be innovative with the curriculum. This is because it appears that most private schools are more devoted to parents’ demands for good examination results. This is where Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School initially did not want to go by name “academy” because this had been misinterpreted to mean only for academic without being all-inclusive or all around education for a child.

Comparisons between public and private schools in some developing countries suggest private schools have less teacher absenteeism rate. I can affirm the importance of this and that it makes a difference when a teacher is in the classroom when he /she is supposed to be there. When I was teaching in the Diocesan boys’ school and it happened that I was to be away from school for three days, even though I had less lessons to give in a week than other teachers, it was not easy to get time to cover the pending lessons while at the same time keeping the flow of the ongoing lessons as required for that week. I had to teach during evening study time and for that reason I do not see how a teacher who is absent from school for a week can easily cover the lost work.

The report further notes that living in a rural area or being poor and marginalized as some of the Maasai families are cuts a child’s chances of attending early learning. This becomes difficult among people like the Maasai whose children have to walk long distances to school and the little ones have no school nearby home for pre-primary education. For that reason the parents have to wait until a child can be able to walk to school and this would be at the age of being in class one (first grader) without having been to pre-school.

Fr. Ntaiyia

School website: http://frntaiyiajubileeschool.org/ or Friends of Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School

HABARI: NEWS APRIL 2015

The schools in Kenya reported back for 2015 second trimester on May 5. About 97% of the students of Friends of Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School had reported back to school in the first four days.
Most parents and friends anticipated the return of the students in Narok Schools with a lot of anxiety and fear. I had requested our parishioners here in Ontario to join me in praying for the people of Narok town where the school is and for the families and our students. This is because five days before children returned to school from April Holidays, flash floods struck Narok town with such a force sweeping away residents, domestic animals and cars. A one-story building in the town also collapsed with an unknown number of people feared trapped inside and a witness said the floods swept away more than ten vehicles. Damage assessments are still going on and exact figures are unlikely to be available for some time. Narok has a history of flash floods but in recent years they have increased and it is being noted that the main cause is loss of forest cover in the outlaying water catchments, coupled with the closing up of waterways in the town due to some structures done on the water ways. I have communicated with teachers and other school staff and so far there is no report to indicate that any of our school families were affected by the floods in any way.

STUDENTS AND STAFF: I am informed that the students and staff reported back to school well. Even though there were reports of heavy rains in some parts of the county, travelling was possible back to school. Children are always brought back by parents and for that reason I feel it is safe for the children. It could however have been catastrophic if the said flood found parents and children shopping in the town.
Generally the students were said to have had restful time at home although this differs with families and places. There has been no rain in most parts of Kenya prior to start of school holidays which means the children were going to homes that had experienced dry season, maybe not much water and food. I often become aware quickly when people are experiencing hard times because within the first few days of the children’s returning, school fee payments are delayed and goes slower than expected which may indicate that parents do not have their normal cash flow.
It is very obvious this trimester because parents have paid less than expected in the first week and this is attributed to prolonged drought that was reported in areas where children come from. This means the crop farmers did not have produce to sell and those who keep animals, their animals did not have much to graze on and so were not healthy to fetch good auction. Such a situation points out that things and stable food will be expensive since there will not be much of it in the open market. When people have little to bring to the market, they probably need what they harvest for sustaining themselves at home.

SECURITY: Many friends and well-wishers of Jubilee School have asked me questions regarding the safety of the School’s Community with regards to the reports of Al-Shabaab attacks that are being reported in some parts of Kenya. Distance wise Friends of Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School is far from troubled areas and we do not expect our area to have any attentions that may make it a target of Al-Shabaab; however we cannot rule out that family members and friends of our students and staff could be caught up in troubled areas. We also have our past students who have gone to High Schools in various parts of the Country.
Some schools in some parts of Kenya live in constant fear of a terrorist attack because of what may be going on in their areas.

SCHOOL WEBSITE: As I had mentioned in the February 2015 News that I was working on a new website for the school bearing the official registration name of the school that is Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School, I wish to say that it is now in place. I am working on the pictures to be posted according to three headings: Activities, Development and School life as shown in the Photo Albums. Please visit the website and give me any feedback you may have that can improve it. http://frntaiyiajubileeschool.org/.

HABARI: NEWS – MARCH 2015

First school trimester in Kenya ended on April 10, 2015 with students going home for April break that will end on May 5th when they will return for the second trimester.

Generally learning and other school activities went on well in Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School. Newcomers who enrolled in the school this year became used to the new environment and as I had reported in the February news, with unusually warm weather in the first three months of this year in Kenya, the children’s health was reasonably good because there was not much of common cold and Malaria that comes with wet and cold weather.

We had enough teachers during the trimester who took care of all the classes (grades) and made sure that all the subjects were taught according to the curriculum and syllabus as required by the Ministry of Education in Kenya.

SCHOOL BREAK:

The day and especially the night before leaving for holidays the children get very excited about it and hardly sleep that night. They wake up early in the morning to tidy up and have breakfast and assemble briefly before each gets ready for parents to come. Some parents arrive as early as seven in the morning so that they may get the earliest vehicle (Bus) that goes their way. For some there may be limited means to their homes because of the distance and bad roads. Because of this parents come and stay in the township ready for an early departure with their children. There are others who have no problem with means to their homes, and others may have to walk part of the journey. Friendly weather is very much welcome on such a day.

CONCERN OF A PARENT:

All parents were able to come for their children on the closing day and end of trimester and report forms were handed over to them while teachers were all ready to explain to any parent who needed any clarification on the report. I was informed that one of the parents, a Maasai man who has three children in Jubilee school, reacted furiously when he was informed that his son an eighth grader was in position 27 out of 40. The man who never went to school was happy that his other two children were in higher positions but decided not to take the one he thought was not smart (bright) with him home. He told the teachers that his father did not take him to school and that he was doing all he could to have his children go to school so that they would not become like himself without education. After leaving his son in the school with the teachers, the matron had to telephone call another parent who knew this man to intervene and the two men caught up with each other in the town and went back to school. One of the teachers explained to him that his son had made progress and had gone up in points in comparison with past trimesters and on top of that he was informed that his son had passed in every subject. With this understanding he accepted that his son had made some progress and being in position 27 was better than his previous position.

This happening points out that the Maasai have understood the value of education, and are ready if able to take their children to schools where they will have a better chance of being educated. A man who never went to school wants his son to be in a higher position in class and knows that this means his son will continue with further education if he passes his examinations. This is very encouraging. I had wished to talk to this man but I was unable to reach him by telephone after I was told about him.

TEACHERS:

One of our founding teachers, however had to leave after she was offered a job by the government. Elizabeth Mwinzi has been with us from the beginning. Kenya has many trained teachers who are not employed by the main teachers’ employer, the Government. These are the teachers we employ in private schools but they keep longing for government employment because it has many benefits and better pension scheme which private schools cannot afford. These teachers therefore apply for government jobs when recruitment is announced, and we cannot stop them from going when the opportunity arises. We end up recruiting new teachers once the government takes teachers from us. We have been lucky in Fr. Ntaiyia School that this does not happen often because it is not good for students to change teachers now and then.

ACTIVITIES:

Each trimester schools in Kenya have different extracurricular activities. During the trimester that has just ended the children are involved in ball games. Volleyball for boys and girls, football (soccer) for boys and girls and net ball for girls. At the first state the local schools, about ten compete locally (sub-zonal level) after each school has been given time to practice. The best three schools out of ten proceed on to compete with other schools at the second stage at zonal level. Jubilee school had ten girls competing at zonal level and a team of boys at the same level.

NATIONAL EDUCATION NEWS:

There has been a concern of poor performance of public primary schools in examinations. Former President Daniel Moi was reported by a Kenya local newspaper on March 22, 2015 as he attributed the poor performance of public primary schools to inadequate attention by the government. He challenged the government to help improve standards in public primary schools, including those in rural areas, by deploying more resources and manpower. He said it was unfair for the Ministry of Education to pay attention to public schools in urban areas and ignore those in the rural areas, yet they are expected to compete in national examinations. “These schools have less teachers, poor infrastructure and pupils going without meals. The poor performance and the poor grading associated with them should be blamed on the government.” He asked the government to focus on improving the learning environment in all public schools. “All children, regardless of where they come from, must be provided with equal learning opportunities. They must learn without being interrupted by anybody or any circumstances throughout their time in school.”
Fr. Symon

HABARI: NEWS – FEBRUARY 2015

School year in Kenya started with difficulties because the public school teachers went on strike. Parents and school children who had been gearing up for the start of the 2015 school year were disappointed on Monday, January 5, 2015 after teachers failed to show up for the first day of class. Although private schools’ teachers did not go on strike, the parents with children in those schools get confused regarding their children having to report in schools while the other schools are not operating. This is especially for those who live far and in remote places. Communication is better now with cell phones almost in all places and parents were informed to bring their children. The pupils reported well but more gradually than expected. First the old students came while those small third grade newcomers reported a few days later. Because of this confusion some of the children who had applied to come to our school preferred to stick to their former schools as there were not head teachers in the schools they were transferring from to officially clear them to come to our school. This was one of the reasons and also, because a few children transfer from our school to other schools, our population dropped from 274 children to 253 during this trimester. The head teacher has informed me that some parents who had applied, have called and may bring their children at the beginning of a new trimester or early next year.
This year the schools opened on the 5th of January which is my Birthday and the day when the first children were enrolled in the school in 2009. The 2015 school calendar in Kenya has been approved and this school year will take 39 weeks. The first two terms will contain 14 weeks each, while the third, traditionally the shortest, will have 11 weeks. The new students started well in the grades they came to and the teachers have been experiencing the usual initial complications of bringing the newcomers to adjust in the new environment, especially those who are coming to a boarding school for the first time in their life. The students who have been in the school longer are always a great help to the newcomers. This has become a good healthy tradition especially as I made it very clear from day one that there is not bullying in this school. January and February were unusually warm months and this made it healthier for the new children because there was not much common cold and malaria that come with cold weather.

PARENTS’ VISITING DAY:

Boarding Schools mark a day each trimester for parents to come to see their children who are away from home. On this visiting day as I have mentioned in the past, both parents may come and may bring their other children to visit. Relatives such as uncles, aunts or guardians may visit as well. They may bring food to share with their child and may also bring supplies such as soaps, pens and pencils, copy books and any other items that are allowed for use in school. Most of the parents arrive between 11 and 12.30 Noon, weather permitting. After meeting individually with class teachers where they are briefed on the progress of their child, and if they do not need to meet the head teacher (which is optional and only for the those who may be requested to do so), they may go and look for a favorable place to share a meal and visit with their child and may stay until they are ready to go home. Some parents leave earlier than others because of the distances they have to go by public means.
Visiting day is one of my favorite days in the school as it happens when I am there. I get an opportunity to meet the parents whom I have not seen before, especially those who have since brought new students to us. February 21 was the visiting day for this trimester and all reports about it indicates that it was a wonderful day weather-wise bringing a crowd of almost 600 parents and children in the school. Our new students – the little ones were being visited for the first time and for some parents it becomes emotional seeing their child who has never been away from home so long. The children are, however, proud to be in a school away from home, and will have stories of the new friends they have, their teachers and school life.

TEACHERS’ STRIKES IN PUBLIC SCHOOL – KENYA:

There is a long line of strikes that have interfered with the Kenyan education sector in recent years, highlighting the country’s education challenges. Experts say these challenges can be traced back to 2003, when free primary school education was introduced. While the move was lauded the world over for increasing access to education for millions of Kenya’s poorest children, it also resulted in a severe strain on the country’s already inadequate school infrastructure and facilities. Non-existent or poor public school infrastructure has, along with teacher shortages, been a major barrier to improving access to public primary and secondary education in Kenya.
As one teacher mentioned in a public school, some schools’ structures are poorly maintained due to lack of resources and this affects the concentration of learners and ultimately, their performance in exams. There is also need for more teachers to cater adequately to all the students. It is said that Kenya’s public schools have an average of 50 students for every teacher, though some classes have only one teacher for 100 pupils.
There is another report that highlighted widespread teacher absenteeism as a major problem and analysts warn that an education system that produces illiterate and semi-literate children will have dire socio-economic consequences. The report further states that vibrant economies and creative democracies (that are chorused by some Nations) cannot be built in East Africa when the majority of our children cannot read and count well.

BUILDING:

I have no report on any physical development going on in the school for now. There are however ordinary things that need to be done such as buying furniture for both Library and computer rooms, working on students’ walkways connecting to each building and some landscaping that has been pending completion of the constructions.

SCHOOL WEBSITE:

Following the dissolution of Friends of Father Symon Jubilee School nonprofit organization that raised funds for the benefit of the construction and establishment of the school, it is appropriate to have a new website for the school bearing the official registration name of the school that is Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School. Most of the work has been done but some pages are still under construction. http://frntaiyiajubileeschool.org/.

HABARI: NEWS JANUARY 2015

 Dear friends and well-wishers of Father Symon Jubilee School, belated Happy New Year. It has been a while since my last Habari News and for that reason I wish to mention that 2014 has truly been an historic year with successes and challenges that were possible but not an easy journey during the year. As usual it is not easy to try and summarize activities of one school year into a one or two page report but there are those highlights that are outstanding and may also shine a light on directions that may encourage us as we look ahead to 2015. While the end of 2015 will mark the 10th anniversary of Jubilee School groundbreaking, 2014 marked the 10th anniversary of the preparation year when I visited Kenya after being in the US for three years. It was then I looked for and bought a plot where the school stands in preparation for marking my Jubilee year that began with the groundbreaking for the construction of the school buildings on December 7, 2005.

As time went by I gradually introduced friends and well-wishers to this School project which I had hoped to develop as I continued to do my priestly ministry in the US. At some stage some friends viewed my efforts as a great charity to my people in Kenya and so they advised that it was better to form an American Charitable organization, established under the laws of the State of New York and registered as a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization, with a federal tax ID number so that well-wishers may easily extend their donations as charity to the school. We were able to form this organization following the legal registration and we named this organization, Friends of Fr. Symon Jubilee School and it was given a Federal EIN number. Its aim is very well stated in the first few lines of its web home page (schoolfornomads.org). “Our purpose is to support an elementary school for grades 1 through 8, recently built in Narok, Kenya by Fr. Symon Ntaiyia, for the benefit of children, both of the Maasai tribe (who primarily reside in the region)” and from other tribes. With the majority of contributions through this charitable organization the school has developed as a learning institution for the Maasai children and the results have been realized, with all the graduating students in the last three years’ classes making it in public examinations for High School. I must mention that the school has been receiving substantial donations from contributors in Austria-Europe but not through the Friends of Fr. Symon Jubilee School organization in the US.

The friends who were involved in registration of the Charitable Organization have found it fitting to dissolve it with the understanding that the aim of it was for capital campaign and the goal has been achieved or “The goals and capital campaign that we set out to achieve in 2005 have been accomplished” as stated in the letter dated August 29, 2014 that was delivered by the President and Secretary /Treasurer of the organization on behalf of Directors, to all of the donors who have generously given to the friends of Fr. Symon School for Nomads over the years. This letter can also be found in the Blog page of the Website “schoolfornomads.org.”

With the dissolution of Friends of Fr. Symon Jubilee School for Nomads Charitable Organization, I would like to make clear that Father Ntaiyia Jubilee Primary Boarding School (as it is officially registered in Kenya) will continue as a non-profit, private, primary boarding school in Narok, Kenya whose mission will be to educate the children of the nomadic tribes of the region with special emphasis and outreach to the Maasai. This was projected as my legacy before I started the school and has been my firm persuasion with the donors. However, it must be understood that parents have to pay school fees to meet education for their children.

There has certainly been a number of questions, sent to me via email or phone regarding the dissolution of the organization. We all will agree that it feels great to have reached our goals which confirmed just how generous all friends of Jubilee school have been with their donations having in mind that no donation is too small. My people in Kenya will always be thankful to those who kept connecting with the people who made it all happen. Thank you to everyone who participated, sponsored, and otherwise helped make it such a successful and memorable accomplishment.

Even though I set up the School to be self-sustaining, gifts and donations from well-wishers will always help the School to meet some expenditures such as purchase of text books, learning material and some repairs. This makes it possible to keep school fees affordable for parents and without increasing it to cater for such expenses. I hope a new possibility will come our way that can lawfully allow the school to accept tax exempt donations in the future.

The 2014 school year went on very well as reported in occasional “Habari” News in the blog of the school’s website and with many activities in the year. The remarkable one this time is that once again we had successful candidates in the graduating class – out of 25 students who took the final examinations 24 passed and will go to High School. I have been in touch with the parents of the one girl who did not make it well and they are looking for the possibility of her joining a private High School, and it is possible. The government has reported that only half of all the candidates had made it in this examination. We can say that 80% of our candidates did make it this year. With the dissolution of the organization stated above, the school has a new website that is already active even though it is still being organized: http://frntaiyiajubileeschool.org/.

Fr. Symon


2014

HABARI: NEWS JUNE 2014

Parents’ visiting day went very well on 21 June even though it is dry in most parts of the country where the students come from. I was informed that all the children were visited and the parents who did not come had members of their families visiting their children. The country is generally dry and there has been no rain in some areas for several months now. During visiting day most parents were able to meet with teachers and talk about their children’s progress and life in the school. The Head teacher is always available for any outstanding issue that may need her attention with parents. As I have mentioned before this is always a joyful day that brings parents from many parts of the county and District to the school and even though they may not know each other, there is always a sensation of a family, made possible by the fact that they all have a child in the school. It becomes like one celebration for all and yet each family keeps to its own company. Some families bring the little ones or brothers and sisters to visit whoever is in school and they come ready to meet their brother or sister who is in the boarding school. Some mothers shed tears when they come and when they leave but are happy that their child is in school. Generally the parents are happy with the way their children are taken care of in the school and I personally confirm that it is to my expectation. It should always be remembered that it is through the generosity of many benefactors and donors that such an environment has become possible.
As I mentioned in the last letter the school was competing with others in music festivals that take place this trimester and each school, depending on what they choose to do, may go alone on an activity or at a certain level, the best form a team with other schools in their region. This year for the first time our students managed to perform well at a district level and 13 of our students are going to compete at National level which is the top most level in the country. They will join another school in a Kenyan coastal city – Mombasa, about five hundred miles from Narok (where the school is situated) and will compete with other schools. This ends the extracurricular for music in the year and the best teams will have the privilege of going to perform for the head of state at state house Nairobi. Sister Pauline the Head teacher had informed me that our children were doing well on this but I did not expect that they would do this well. The schools in Kenya have three weeks to go before a four-week August break .
I had two phone call meetings with the school teaching staff and one with teachers and non-teaching staff since May and from our conversations it sounds things are going on well. How this happens is that one of the cell phones there is put on speakers and they all assemble near it and I am able to talk to them and they have an opportunity to ask questions. In the future we shall find a better way, even skype, but at the moment we have no power in the school for a computer and sometimes the connection becomes impossible. I also speak with the Head teacher very often and I call any employee who may wish to speak with me on a personal level.
The World Bank has revised downwards its growth projections for Kenya this year noting that the major downsides include the deteriorating security situation in the country and inadequate and erratic rainfall. According to the report, the drought that began in the last quarter of last year and delayed rain in the first half of this year have increased the prices of almost everything from maize (corn) flour, petrol (gas) to bus fares and life is becoming very difficult. So far we have been lucky because we buy our staple foods in bulk at the beginning of the trimester when most of the fees are paid.
Local Kenya papers have repeatedly reported that the country aims to introduce free secondary education in 2017 to boost transition rates from public primary schools, which have not been charging fees since 2003 when the free primary education program was introduced. Free primary school education is said to have seen the number of students enrolling in secondary schools rise 64 percent to 77 percent. The government intends to use the free secondary education to raise the transition rate and increase equity because rising post-primary fees deny the poor access to quality education. Families of some bright students who secured admission in national public high schools early this year opted to have their children join low-ranked schools because they could not raise the annual fees that are very high in these schools.
The fear will be the same as when free education was introduced in elementary school; parents lost much of a say in the schools and the quality of education and other school activities in public schools worsened. As I mentioned in a letter some months back the school teaching items and text books become very expensive because all in public school is paid by the free education program sponsored by the international community and the government does not control much of the prices given by the dealers.
Readers will recall that sometimes I mentioned that I had bought 2 acres of property near a river less than a mile from the school. We have been growing vegetables there and by irrigation the children have been having fresh vegetables mainly kale and cabbage. This has been very helpful especially during the long dry season. In the past we use to get our vegetables from suppliers from highlands and there was not very much available or fresh during the dry seasons. I hope to use one third of the lot for whatever fruits that can grow well in this area such as oranges, melons and others. As for the Administration cum Library building I have not been in touch with the contractor for a while. Pictures indicated that the walls are dry for painting and fitting the window panes.

Fr. Symon

HABARI: NEWS MAY 2014

By end of May we have completed the first of three months of the second trimester that will end in the first week of August. I am informed that the children reported well from their April Break; each time there are a few who come late for some reason, such as school fees were not set or dad was not at home and other reasons which we do not get into once the child is back to school.
I have encouraged the head teacher to call the parents – thanks to the age of cell phones we can get them even when they are fetching water from the river far from home, or picking firewood in the forest or even looking after their goats, sheep and cows, and even those who may be working in agricultural fields. When I was in school in 1958 the nearest police signal (telephone like in my home area) was a thirteen mile walk from home. It was operated twice a day if the generator fuel was available and the police station was not a place people were tempted to visit even with a pressing need.
In the month of May the students and staff have been doing well in teaching and learning as well as activities that prepare students for music, athletics and ball games. These activities continue with the best going to higher phases before the best players from different schools form a combined team for their area.
There are many general reports on insecurity in Kenya at the moment. We have not heard of any incident with the school families but there is fear of it spreading and what twist it may take in the future.
DROUGHT: Elementary schools in some areas of Kenya have closed down due to hunger that has been caused by prolonged drought. Some schools were forced to close after children moved out of some areas with their parents in search of pasture and water. This has been reported in Northern Kenya among some nomads. Animal keepers (Maasai) in Kajiado, a neighboring District to Narok District where the Jubilee School is, have begun moving their livestock into the National Park near Kilimanjaro in search of water and pasture. One of the local leaders has reported that most animals have died due to the drought that has left seasonal rivers dry. Most farmers have now moved their remaining stocks to other areas in search of grass and water.
Distribution of food to drought-stricken families has been reported in some areas but enrollment in some schools has drastically dropped. In some places the leaders are asking the government to supply residents and the few schools that are operating with clean water to prevent water borne diseases and stop the closure of the remaining schools. Some places people are forced to walk over 10 miles to fetch water from a river. Many people may be facing starvation with women and children being the hardest hit. Most children in some nomadic areas are currently facing malnourishment since they are surviving on one meal per day as one leader said.
Such occurrences point out that boarding schools like the Jubilee School are still needed in nomadic areas so that the students can stay in school and learn as well as getting meals there, otherwise they too would be moving with their families away from school. I remember when I started introducing Father Symon Jubilee School to friends and asking for support there were questions regarding taking young children away from their homes and families to attend boarding school. Some people were even suggesting the possibility of a mobile school which practically would only be possible for very few children. I thank all the many friends and benefactors of Jubilee School for understanding as we now keep 174 children in school that also employs 20 people both in teaching and nonteaching staff. Droughts, however, have serious effects on the school because most of the stable food prices go up sometimes like this year by 43.4% and the only solution to this would be to increase school fees for parents who are already experiencing effects of the same drought. I have kept the same school fees for the last four years and hopefully we can go through the season without an increase.
In such situations when drought sets in, however, families even of those of students are affected. Old persons are also affected because they cannot move with the community and so sometimes are abandoned by their families, who have migrated to far off places in search of pastures and water. The aged are left behind by their families and with nothing to feed on. Sometimes it takes between five and ten years for people to recover from the effects of drought and this renders people to remain in poverty all their lives. Current data from the World Bank shows more than 15.4 million citizens in rural Kenya live in abject poverty.
EDUCATION IN KENYA: Despite the said successes of the extremely popular universal Free Primary Education scheme in Kenya, up to one million children remain out of school as recently as last year, according to a UNESCO report. This is still the ninth highest in the world. It is further reported that thousands more do not transit to higher levels of education. Another report that paints a bad picture of the Free Primary Education in Kenya is increased dropout rates and a rising proportion of boys and this warns over the rising neglect of the boy child. This is very surprising because for many years among some Kenyan people it was the girl child who was marginalized in education. The challenge now is to bring all these children back to school and retain them there. Also highlighted are the worrying trends of absenteeism, decline of parents’ involvement in their children’s education all of which threaten the quality of education in public primary schools.
LIBRARY CUM ADMINISTRATION BUILDING: Construction engineer and the architect made their routine inspection last week and have informed me that the work is going on well as we projected during my last visit in February. Since my last letter windows and doors have been fixed, walls have been plastered, floor complete and in the next one or two weeks the plaster will have dried for the workers to start painting inside.
Fr. Symon

HABARI: NEWS APRIL 2014

It is two months since I returned to the US after my last visit to Kenya. I had left for this visit a week earlier than I had expected because there came a necessity that needed my attention and presence with regards to the ongoing construction of Library cum Administration building.
The school was still excited about the success of our examination candidates last year and the arrival of the new students who joined the school this year. Some people have wanted to know what happens with the children after they graduate from Father Symon Jubilee School or Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School as it is known in Kenya. After the public examinations that are done by 8th Graders the parents take charge of their own children to make sure that they go to High Schools that have invited them or look for alternative High Schools (private) for their children to further their education. The school administration can only give a letter of recommendation for a student who is looking for a place in High School (Secondary School); the parents are responsible to follow up if their child has acquired a place by merits of points.
General assessment and analysis this year again indicates that there was improvement in points with last year’s examinations in the school. In comparison with some schools where some children came from, those who transferred to us did better than those who were left in their former school and we had about three cases of children who were moved from Jubilee school to other schools in the same grade. Those who were left in and were not as good as those who left did better.
My own general evaluation is that given the facilities we have, that allows children more time for studies. Unlike those who walk to school every day under any weather without much food and without enough books as we have, the students in Jubilee School should do much better. I however, had a discussion with the teaching staff during my visit and we agreed that they need to make a study of this situation and find out how we can improve.

MORE STUDENTS As usual in the beginning of the school year we get new pupils and this year we got more in upper grades because I want to make use of the room we have in the dormitories. We have a total of 274; a few more pupils came in since the last blog entry which recorded 268 pupils, a number I had given when I was in Kenya in February. The large number is not by any mistake, it is well calculated. I asked the Head teacher to fill the beds that were still empty in the Dormitories and this has made the school have a double class meaning we have two grade five class rooms.
The new students face challenges in some areas of their new life in a new school away from home, but we can be proud of school community that over the last few years has understood and easily helps the new students move forward to face these challenges. There are some children who come from schools that do not prepare them well for their next school year. Some schools or teachers mostly in public schools are not following and covering syllabus and teachers in Jubilee School find this out quickly through homework or class tests.
I must say that social life in the school is very adoptable because I made this very clear from the beginning that there is not bullying of new children so the newcomers make new friends and feel that they are in their school where they are entitled to what every student is allowed. One of the new experiences for new students is when they realize that they must be held accountable to doing their things and are not able to turn to parents to fend for them. The teachers and the matron initially pay attention to this and older students are a great source of support on this.

NEW STAFF I had to recruit and employ more teachers bringing the number to 9 including Sister Pauline who is heading the school. For non-teaching staff I employed a second cook and this has improved things under the leadership of Sister Emmy who is not responsible for domestic chores.
The first trimester of 2014 ends this week and the children have done their end of term examinations. There has been a lot of effort especially in bringing the new children to what the teachers may judge to be standard academic level for all the new and the old pupils in the school. This helps the teachers know that the lessons they give are understood by all. Some transfer students mostly are behind the syllabus. It is also not easy for new children becoming used to a different institution and for many being in boarding school for the first time. I was pleased to see how quickly they get used to the school and other students. The Schools in Kenya closed for Easter break on April 11 and I was informed that the trimester ended well and all the children left safely. I am sure the new students have loads of stories to tell to their parents, siblings and neighbors at home.
I also had to buy new text books for practically all the subjects and for all the classes. Prices of items especially Text books and food have been going up each year. Teaching and the related materials became very expensive after Kenya started giving free education in public Schools because the manufacturers and printers are paid with money coming from donors for free education and not from the Kenyan government budget or parents. Therefore they sell their items at undisputed or bargained prices. Private schools like Fr. Symon School for Nomads do not have the benefit of donations for free education and so have to budget all expenses with the fees they charge the students. Care is taken to cover the books and teachers help the children to learn how to take good care of the books as well.
The extracurricular for during the first trimester of the year in Kenya is ball game, and the children are trained in Football (soccer), Volley Ball and Hand ball for girls. Schools compete with their neighboring School and the best players form a team at the next level until there is a strong District team.
MEETING: It was a pleasure to meet with Mr. Heini, Sylvia and Ludwig who were passing by Narok. Doctor Maria Schiestl also from Austria whom they were visiting brought them to visit the School. I had the opportunity to show Heini the ongoing construction of the Library cum Administration building that I started with Funds from Heini for Africa left over after our rain water harvest project. I was also able to meet a few former students who are now in their second year in High School as they were home for their half-term break. It was like they were gone for ages, and each was ready to share on how things are going and were happy to be going on with studies. As the wise said long ago, “Mountains do not meet but people meet.”
Fr. Symon Ntaiyia