Imagine the shell of a building with the dimensions 12ft x 12ft. A hole in the wall serves as a makeshift window, another as a door. A corrugated iron sheet serves as a roof. Rows of desks are crammed into the limited floor space and against one wall is propped a chalkboard. The heat is stifling.
Now imagine over forty young children tightly packed inside. Forty wriggling bodies, jostling for position; no room to move around, barely any space for the teacher.
When told that this building served as a classroom for the youngest children in Runo School, my first thought was disbelief. This then gave way to emotion as I peered through the window and saw all the children packed together inside. However, this was soon replaced by feelings of respect and admiration.
Yes, the children were some of the poorest in the area and many had walked miles to school on an empty stomach. Yes, the classroom was tiny, cramped and in a poor state of repair, with very few resources. But the teacher’s dedication coupled with the children’s desire to learn made education a positive experience. Despite all of the negatives, the children eagerly embraced the opportunity to learn.
The children proudly sang a repertoire of songs, some in English and some in Pokot. This included a couple of songs that had been taught to the teacher only a few days earlier during the educational seminars. This commitment to her pupils was typical of that shown by the staff in all the schools visited; ideas, skills and resources given are wholeheartedly embraced and integrated into their daily teaching.
The teachers do a marvellous job under difficult conditions. Imagine the progress that could be made with better facilities and resources.