“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”, said Nelson Mandela. If we want to overcome the problems within a society, we first need to educate and equip it with the knowledge and tools necessary for the change.
This is something that Grace Humanitas, one of our sponsored schools in Kibera (Kenya), is well aware of. Despite of being located within a slum, with everything that it entails, they stand out for being full of motivation and desire to change the world.
The limitations of Grace Humanitas, which are also transmitted to the other schools in Kenya, are numerous and known: abounded schools due to lack of resources; minimal or non-existent support from the government regarding the different aspects of education; teachers with little experience in the field of education…
These limitations are well known, but do we know if Grace Humanitas, and the education in Kenya in general, have something to offer? Do they have any virtue? Any strengths? This school has also got things to teach us and to be proud of, aspects in which they distinguish themselves from many educational systems in the more developed countries. These elements should also be taken into account.
Firstly, they stand out for having highly motivated and cooperative teachers. Teachers who often do not have the necessary training, but who every day strive to improve the learning within the classroom and who share their experiences with other teachers to improve, this is something we sometimes lack in Spain for example.
The teachers are aware that they do not have the solutions to all their problems, but they want to solve them together with other professionals in their community to improve their own environments. Improvements made by the community for the community. Is there anything that works better?
Secondly, the students are exceptionally motivated and excited to learn, they are aware of how privileged they are to each day be able to set their foot in the classroom. Grace Humanitas’ children see education as a good they must care for and value, as it can open the door to a better future.
Additionally, Grace Humanitas represents an educational trend that considers the transmission of values in the classroom as essential. The school is not only a place to dump knowledge into the students’ heads, as many teachers believe, but also a place for reflection, learning values, for debate…
Within Grace Humanitas’ classrooms, books are as important as strategies for everyday life, developing a critical analysis, and the ability of differentiating situations of injustice. This is all with the aim of supporting the development of these children so that, once again, they are able to change their world.
Let us now imagine that the government in Kenya had the resources and the intention of supporting education, as they do in countries such as Finland and Spain where the educational systems are excellent in many aspects. How far could they go?
These tools, resources and training, which we sometimes miss in other countries, will add to the great human and cooperative work, to the closeness and the enthusiasm of the Kenyans in which they face the process of transmitting knowledge. In my opinion, this would certainly put Kenya on top in the world educational rankings.
The experience in Kenya has taught me that we should reflect on education, support our teachers more, analyze our strengths and weaknesses, and open our minds to other realities that we can learn from so we can improve our educational systems and teaching staff.
During these months I have learned that Kenya, with its enthusiasm, cooperation and motivation for education is an example to consider. I know that with sufficient resources and support, Kenya will become a global reference, and the much-desired change can be achieved through the education of their children.