Frequently Asked Questions
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What was your original plan to intake students?
My original plan was to have children in school by January 2008 but this did not materialize because of the December 2007 post-election violence in Kenya that affected many people and places. Since our first grade (class one ) children we had hoped to enroll had to walk daily from home to school, parents were anxious about letting their small children walk to school while there was still so much unrest.
These developments led the parents of children who we had recruited to enroll in established schools. The number of children who still wanted to come to our school was too small to conduct school that year as required by the education law in Kenya. For these reasons, my plans changed and called for the school to begin recruiting children in late 2008 to begin in January 2009.
This new plan gave me enough time to prepare for boarding facilities and projected to recruiting for the third, fourth and fifth grades in the first intake.
I aimed at having about 120 children in school January 2009; I succeeded in enrolling 115 children.
Boarding facilities was possible because as we approached the end of 2008, construction of 8 classrooms was completed and I planned to utilize them as follows for starting the School in January 2009:
a. Three classrooms were used as instruction rooms for classes 3, 4, and 5
b. Two classrooms were temporarily used as dormitories: one for boys and one for girls
c. One classroom was partitioned for use as administration offices and staff room
d. A temporary kitchen and wash rooms were erected outside the main building. I had experience of using class rooms in this way in 1987 when I started a Diocesan boys’ Boarding High School with 6 classrooms as the only available building to start the school with.

How will you accept/encourage children to come to your school? Is there some sort of network?
Because Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School is in Narok Kenya, and was to start operation while I am ministering in the US, I employed a retired school teacher, a family man who is respected in the community, to start the school for me. He has had a lot of experience in setting up new schools. He was qualified to proceed with the various essential tasks: initiating extensive contact within my main target Maasai communities allowing for the eventual opening of the school. Since parents and guardians have the responsibility for the children we had to reach them by having announcements regarding the opening of Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School made in other schools where children carried the message home; open air meetings known as Baraza in Kiswahili where the people who attended them took the news on the new school to others at home; through local leaders who meet people during their official functions and through announcements in Churches where the faithful took the news to others at homes. I also had posters made for announcements that were posted in public places like schools, medical centers, shops, post offices, and Churches. Oral communication is very effective for us because many people may not know how to read and may not have radios. Because of the good reputation during my term in the Diocesan High School that I started in Lemek Narok in 1987 and that I was known in most of the places I went to recruit the boys for the High School, the name Father Ntaiyia has up to now been associated with a good learning environment and therefore it was not challenging to encourage children to come to my school.

The tuition and room and board seem to be considerable in light of the average annual income of the Maasai. Are people accustomed to paying tuition, room and board?
Private (not public) schools in Kenya are tuition fees driven. Those private schools that have boarding facilities charge extra to those who board. Public schools that have free education also, charge for boarding fees where they have the facilities. The Maasai however, are recently beginning to see the values of a good education. By observing educated individuals who are achieving more in the field of employment and bringing a better economy to their families and villages, the Maasai are willing to save and pay for schooling that they perceive as worth it. Some people believe that it is better to pay the expense of sending children to a private school, where their teachers will be constantly accountable to the administration of the school. Like all the other people, the Maasai too understand that there is an expectation to pay and a high priority on ‘good schooling.’ Father Ntaiyia Jubilee School has so far kept affordable school fees in comparison with other schools in the area.

You say the Jubilee School is not a missionary school but it is being run by Fr. Symon, a Catholic Priest. Can you explain?
Not all the Maasai people are Catholics/Christians and not all the people who live in Maasai land are Catholics/Christians. I have pointed out in a few places on the web-site, I want a school for children regardless of their walk of life. I personally went to a public school during the colonial era in Kenya and my parents did not even know what a school was or even what a Catholic/ Christianity was. From the then Primary Boarding School in Narok and later Government Maasai School (GMS) I received a good education and through Catholic teachers and visiting Catholic priests I became a Catholic. I believe in giving opportunity to all the people. If we help a few because they belong to one group then we deny the teaching that we are all in the image of the almighty. In the Catholic Church we sing “all are welcome.” I believe all is all. Hence the African proverb that appears in my web-site and my notes “I am because we are” WE ALL ARE. I am happy to be a Catholic Priest and this makes me feel that all are welcome because we are.

Do you think you will have enough pupils to be able to sustain the school in the long term?
You may have noted in the school’s web-site that I started a Diocesan school for boys. After the initial years of setting up the school, I was able to charge the lowest fees in the District for tuition, room and board and that those fees sustained the school in everything for my final six years there. We are experiencing the same in this elementary school but even though we charge less fees than other schools, some families are not able to pay in time; however, because of having a good number of children enrolled we are able to meet our expenses each trimester. The school gets no financial assistance from the state or other organization. We pay our teachers and other workers, buy learning materials including textbooks that are very expensive now and this has been going on since we started having children in the school.