Michelle’s Friday Project Update: Bethanny Education Centre

Today I am going to share information on a partner I refer to as the “comeback kid”. Walter Olando first reached out to GO Campaign, unofficially, in 2013. He was hoping for general operating funds to help his small school. We explained our preference for more sustainable, one-time grants. He came up with a few ideas for income-generating projects, and officially applied for a grant in August 2014. At the time, he was requesting funds to establish a grain milling business to generate income to offset the operating costs at his school. During the screening process, it was clear that he was not ready for GO’s support. His business plan was weak, and he was not able to clearly identify and communicate the school’s priority needs nor the intended impact of the requested funds. Olando did not give up. He kept in communication with Scott and myself and he educated himself about our model of sustainability. In August 2015, he requested funding for furniture for his school which will allow the school to meet his country’s standards for testing. I admire his ability to not give up. He wants his children to succeed and he is willing to do whatever is needed to make that happen. Please keep reading to learn more about this amazing GO partner.

Organization: Bethanny Education Centre

Location: Nairobi, Kenya

Context: In 2003, Kenya announced its free education policy. In the decade that followed, the number of schools increased and enrollments rates improved. At the primary school level there are more public/government schools. However, most of these schools are in developed areas and are not in the slums which are therefore largely served by low-fee private schools. Though the state claims that education is free and compulsory, many families cannot afford the costs associated with their child’s education such as uniforms and testing fees.  Not surprisingly, poor families are often unable to send their children to school. Between 2010 and 2014, the number of children in Kenyan public schools dropped by 6%.

Background: GO’s Local Hero, Walter Olando, was a teacher for 13 years. He enjoyed working with his students but was always troubled by the number of children he saw that were not in school. As a child, his family struggled to pay his school fees; he was only able to successfully complete his education because of help from one of his high school teachers. Olando founded Bethanny Education Centre in 2012; he wanted to help other children improve their quality of life. Today, the school serves 250 students in grades pre-K through Standard 8. The school does not turn anyone away regardless of their ability to pay tuition, and the students are excelling academically.

Current Status: In December 2015, GO Campaign approved a grant for $6,610.20 to Bethanny Education Centre to purchase 150 desks and chairs; this furniture ensures that the school is able to meet Kenyan testing regulations. The school’s first cohort of 8th grade students are scheduled to take their exit exams in November 2016; the school needs to be in compliance with testing regulations or their students will be unable to take their exams and will not be eligible to continue on to secondary school. Grant funds were disbursed on Jan. 9th, and Olando just submitted his final report. The furniture was purchased and delivered. The students are excited about the furniture and the 8th grade students are thankful that they are able to take their exams. This grant ensures that all future classes of 8th grade students will be able to take their exams and pursue their academic aspirations.