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We have had some good news here at Networklearning. Our Kenyan colleague Abdikadir Ismail (Abdi) has just been made Headmaster of a day school in the North, near Maralal. And, he has volunteered to write up the challenges for publishing on our blog.

As well as managing his job and his growing family, Abdi is continuing his education. He has just had accepted a proposal for research leading to a Master’s thesis. He will be looking at cattle rustling, a practice embedded in the traditional and cultural practices of pastoralist communities. It is one of the main causes of conflict in Kenya. Specifically he will be looking at the effects of cattle rustling on the management of a Boys’ High School in Samburu County and the way it affects the students. He hopes to end up with recommendations for policy makers. As a boy Abdi attended this school, so understands the problem from the inside…

> See our article The Sahel/East Africa in Trouble for background information on the challenges facing the Samburu

Samburu challenge

A review of resources

My school is called Maralal Day Mixed Secondary School, it was started in the year 2011. It has 172 boys and 50 girls. Six teachers are employed by the government and the school has employed four more teachers itself to help alleviate the shortage.

The school is situated about 9km from Maralal town. Most of the students walk to and from school. The school has attracted students from as far as 12 km, who walk to and from school daily - a tiresome but necessary trek. More than 80 of the students in the school are orphaned from one or both parents.

Since the school is a "Day school" the students don't pay school fees but contribute to the lunch program. For this they pay Kshs 3,500 (about 40 dollars) per term of three months. This makes the school the best option for students who come from poor and disadvantaged families.

The school faces a number of challenges which include:

  • Huge debts with suppliers due to unpaid lunch fee program

  • Inadequate classrooms: we have five classrooms, four of which are used by students – Form 1 (74 students),  Form 2 (68 students) and Form 3 (72 students, split between two classrooms). The other classroom has been partitioned to become both a laboratory and a staff room for teachers. The head teacher uses a makeshift structure.




  • No fence or gate

  • Bare land without trees

  • Lack of sports facilities – fields, games kits and equipment

  • Inadequate water storage facilities

  • Never enough teachers

  • The current laboratory is not suitable for undertaking science practical

  • Special problems for girls (– there will be more on this in my next blog)

Altogether, the test for the school administration appears huge! So we have adopted a multi-pronged approach to respond to the various challenges one by one.

Such as…

  • making targeted proposals to friends to support us – in establishing sustainable farming, in getting sanitary pads for girls and in making tables for the lab (thanks also to Networklearning whose materials we also refer to)

  • The administration is currently offering girls sanitary pads in school and book vouchers for top performing boys and girls

  • We are negotiating with a donor to start use of ICT in our teaching and learning

  • We have embarked on an ambitious project of planting 5,000 trees (including fruit trees) over the next 3 years. We have planted the first 500 as part of a "green day" event; during the day we closed school.
  • We are seeking support to make us "visible" by opening a school website where we shall update the schools' progress and help it also get global partners - we are particularly interested in British Council Schools online and exchange programs in order to help our students and teachers become "Global citizens"

Concluding thoughts…

If this is not a huge challenge, then I will need to look for another definition of "challenge"…

Indeed working in a resource-challenged environment has motivated me more…

Next time: The special problems for girls