The Umoja Early Development School provides early childhood education for students ages 4-7 in a community in western Kenya. The school is able to accommodate 95 children, with local demand well exceeding the number of available spaces.
In addition to learning and playing together, the children receive two meals each school day that help ensure receptive minds and growing bodies. The quality of education has resulted in over three quarters of the children exceeding the national average grade for their age group.
Barriers as rudimentary as a school uniform can prevent a child from attending school. Some children in the Boyani area aren’t able to attend an ECD because of lack of money for uniforms or a paucity of ECD facilities. Affordability of uniforms is a countrywide problem in Kenya, with students commonly sent home if they aren’t properly attired or if the parents cannot afford the supplementary school fees. At Umoja, an all-female matriarch village located in near the town of Archers Post in Samburu County, 380 km (240 mi) from the capital, Nairobi, however, a family’s economic circumstances become the deciding factor with places allocated to the most needy students. The school facility occupies a church hall divided into class spaces with a kitchen and latrines. Recently a standpipe project was completed providing a source of potable water.
The school began in 1997 and relocated to its present site a decade ago. Funding has been provided by Meal-a-Day UK. The recent drop in the value of the British pound has created a projected shortfall in their budget and consequently, WCF has agreed to fund the school’s 2017 operating expenses of $16,000. This includes the cost of the feeding program, salaries for the three teachers, two cooks and two caretakers, together with costs for learning materials. The average cost per child is approximately $150 per annum.
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