We live in a very privileged society where we have an excellent NHS and an excellent education system where if we work hard enough the sky is the limit. Unfortunately in Kenya this is not the case, the ‘free primary education’ provided by the state has many disadvantages including classes where over eighty pupils are taught by one teacher with very little learning materials or text books available.
At St Bernadette Mary School we have classes of thirty pupils who enjoy the benefits of a complete free education including a school uniform, text & exercise books, a cup of ugi every morning and being taught by properly qualified teachers. As you can imagine this is unheard of in the county so places are highly sought after, Thursday 21st November was the registration day for our KG1 pupils and as expected over 500 children turned up for 30 places.
Following the initial registration where all the children’s details were taken, then the teachers checked each child’s Medical Clinic Card for their ages. We found a large number of the medical cards had been tampered with so any child who appeared older than five years was sent home. By doing this exercise the number decreased from about 550 to 234 children who fitted the criteria for the next step of the registration process.
Then the hardwork started, the children were separated into groups of thirty and each group went into the classrooms where Madam Pauline, Madam Paula & Madam Magdalena gave each child a short examination. The majority of the little girls were far more confident than the boys who were screaming and crying once they were separated from their Mamas.
Some of the children needed special guidance as they had never held a crayon or a pencil before, a very sad fact in today’s world. The children were very keen but often completely phased by the enormity of the task of colouring in a rabbit or copying a few numbers.
All the children were then asked questions by Mr Stephen about where they lived and where they attended school, again this highlighted the fact that many children had travelled up to thirty miles just to try to get a place at St Bernadette Mary School. We were honoured to have Kim and Paul Maher travel from the UK to assist with our registration process and also to see first hand what a difficult a task it is choosing 30 pupils from 243 hopefuls.
Following the examinations Papa Kevin along with some of our volunteers & visitors randomly choose three families to visit so they could confirm that they are indeed from poor and needy families. All were visibly moved by the poverty in which these children live and hope that these children are lucky in the quest to gain a place in KG1 Class.
We also realise just how blessed our GLO children are to live in such a wonderful environment surrounded by caring staff. This was clearly evident when you compare life in the villages to life within the confines of The Good Life Orphanage. Here are our GLO hopefuls, Raymond, Angel and Evelyn with Madam Sharon, Madam Mercy and Mama Florence.
Once all the examination paper were collected, Mr Sylvester thanked the parents for attending and instructed them to return on 2nd December to find out if their child is successful. Uncle Hemed will make home visits to potential pupils to ensure they do actually live in the surrounding area and do come from the most needy families.
Under Madam Mercy and Mr Franklin our P.T.A. Chairman guidance we trust the right decisions will be made and along with our three GLO children another 27 will enjoy the benefits of a good quality free education at St Bernadette Mary School.
A very special word of thanks to our hardworking teachers and support staff and as always the close bond between the GLO & St Bernadette Mary School is a pleasure to behold.