Walking into any one of the many schools we partner with in West Pokot, it is hard not to be overcome by feelings of awe and inspiration. The thirst for knowledge and education among students is almost palpable. Fully aware that an education empowers them and provides a lifeline out of poverty, these students are committed one hundred percent to succeeding in their studies.
This was in evidence when we visited Lokarkar Primary in Tikeet. As a result of the national strike over teachers’ pay, the school was closed. However, those Standard 8 pupils who are boarders were found absorbed in their studies, preparing for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examination. Dedicated staff were at hand to direct and support. Clearly proud of his students, Head teacher Dominic continually strives to boost performance, undeterred by lack of funds and resources.
Similarly, when we visited Sigor Mixed Secondary School, Form 4 pupils studying for their examinations were hard at work. They all displayed a strong work ethos and had high aspirations for their future. All dreamt of attending University and entering a profession such as teaching, nursing, medicine or law. Like Dominic, the Head teacher Arnold passionately cares about the well being of his students and ceaselessly seeks to advance his school.
The motto painted on the entrance to Father Leo Staples Secondary School aptly sums up the work ethic displayed by the staff and students in all of the schools we work with – Committed to Excel.
Such is the dedication and commitment to their pupils, that many teachers and head teachers turned up to our Primary and Secondary Seminars, despite the general strike and having walked miles from their villages. It was humbling to see such an unexpected turn out, all eager to learn some new teaching ideas and practices that might benefit their pupils. Passion and enthusiasm for their profession was evident and all took an active part in the activities.
A driving force behind the quest for enhanced performance and high expectations is Father Patrick Murunga, parish priest of Lomut Parish, who undoubtedly inspires both teacher and student. His motto “practise, practise, practise” resounds throughout the schools motivating students not only to fulfil but to exceed their potential.
The Yellowmen are committed to assisting the local schools to further improve the quality of education whether it be through the building of classrooms or student dwellings (Mtelo Project), the provision of resources or through educational seminars. A recent initiative The Janet Wilson Scholarship Foundation recognises the achievements of outstanding teachers and of pupils who excel in written English. Recipients receive a certificate, a small monetary award and a book (for pupils) – a reward for their hard work and an incentive for others.