Twinning Kenia-Italy, December 2007

Twinning Kenia-Italy, December 2007



Witness of  Henry Kamande, director in Urafìki Carovana School (Nairobi – Kenia)


15th December 2007,  Corbetta


My name is Henry Kamande,  a director in Urafìki Carovana School, that most of you might already know something about because Annalisa and Valeria have been there to help set up the school. I have been I n the teaching profession for the last twenty years: 12 in the primary school, 8 in a Vocational training institute and now newly appointed to Urafìki Carovana School and I feel very much fulfilled . While still training as a teacher I encountered the Communion and Liberation Movement that has formed me as a teacher more so by working on The Risk of Education. The work on Don Giussani's text has first of all been a great help for me as a person helping even to judge the life in my family.

I think to help you understand the Kenyan education better I should give an overview of our System. Our colonial masters were the Britons and naturally we have adapted much from them- we have even kept what they no longer practice. We have 8 years in primary school, 4 years in secondary and around 4 in the university depending on the course. The System is mostly driven by results what matters is the writings on the certificate not how well a student has worked or is capable of doing. Students in primary schools learn English, Kiswahili, Mathematics, Science , Social studies Art/Craft, Music and Physical Education. At the end of eight years they do a written Examination from the Government. Art/Craft, Music and Physical Education are not examined. The students that pass go to secondary schools. the rest mostly drop out of school or are absorbed in the few polytechnics that for a long time been considered inferior.

To make sure that their students get the limited spaces in the secondary schools the teachers have adopted many unethical methods of teaching: examples are teaching very little of the non exam subjects or avoiding the teaching altogether, using rote drill(memorizing) as the only way of teaching even to the very young. Art, play and storytelling that we know as the areas that form the person are totally neglected. The results have been disinterest in learning, truancy, lack of trust towards adults and widespread drug abuse. Most of the parents approve to these method because we are a result driven society.

6 years ago, Father Alfonso of the priestly fraternity of St. Charles Borromeo with the help of an Italian family, started a kindergarten in my parish. The Risk of education was embraced by the teachers and its method was followed to stay in front of the children and their families. The results were very good. We had children who loved to go to school, very confident and clearly different from others. This was witnessed in many families that had bet on this school. Many teachers who received these children in their primary schools were also moved : they had children that wanted to understand the things and were asking why. These children were not comfortable in the restrictive learning environments.

Some parents got concerned and wanted their children to continue learning the way they had started. An association of concerned was started 3 years ago and some parents who did not have school going children joined in.

This led to the birth of our school in January 2005 in temporary structures on rented land near the Parish centre. My son, Mark was a pioneer student. Teachers were recruited and two classes of primary school started with a total of 18 children.2 more classes were admitted in 2006 and 1 class in 2007. As we stand we now have 130 children. Rapid growth revealed unforeseen problems these are logistical in terms of space and most critical the formation of teachers. Annalisa and Valeria have of been great help in this area. All of the teachers had only short teaching experience, but are very eager to learn. Annalisa and Valeria could not be there permanently and hence there was a need of a person to help the teachers to embrace this way of teaching that embraces the whole person.

The propose to guide the school was given to me in July and I accepted .  Our scholastic year begins in January and it is when I will officially take this challenge. The challenge will be help the teachers and parents recognize what it means to truly love their children. They to put in place structures to make the children as comfortable as possible. We are at the moment trying to resolve the matter of rooms. As the lovely children of 4B wrote to you, we need an extra classroom at the beginning of our scholastic year. Our idea for now is to subdivide the multipurpose hall to create space, but this will again leave the children with no place to have their meals. I thank many of you who have donated money and I promise to write to inform the project we shall realize with the donations.

The general idea is to finally settle the lower primary(l-4) in permanent buildings near the parish and the upper primary (5-8) near Cardinal Otunga School 2 km away. This should help especially in the transition part of the child's life and to enable us use the common facilities. At the moment the site for upper has been allocated. The Lombardy Region has pledged to assist by donating one-third of the amount we require to build that section of the school that must be built before December 2008. it is a big challenge that we are facing.

What I want first of all is happiness in my job, as Don Giussani has al way s taught me . This I am sure will come because I start my work immersed in a great friendship of Fr. Alfonso and his confreres, my colleagues in Nairobi, Annalisa Valeria, teachers, children and parents of this school. I am especially moved by class 4B for their great awareness and interest in the needs of others more so by Sara who has asked not to receive any gifts on her first communion but instead to make donations for my school: this is a result of what she has received even at her tender age she has embraced the meaning of sacrifice. This is the teaching I desire for my children Thank you.



Report 18th December 2007


My work in Italy has come to an end and I wish to make a general report.

My terms of reference were to look at a few realities in Italy and see how well their experiences could help The Urafiki-Carovana school in Nairobi.

I have been very much helped by visiting and experiencing daily life in the following institutions.

1)        S. Gianna Beretta Molla school , Corbetta

2)        Pietro Scola school, Lecco

3)        San Joan of Arc, Seregno

4)        La Zolla Kindergarten.

In all these realities the Directors were very much available to help me understand the running of their schools all doors were wide open to me and I was even allowed into, what seemed to me, sensitive meetings both at Corbetta and Seregno. I was also lucky to be invite to special meeting one being the Tavola of  Milano and the other one at Corbetta with a core group of parents that helps the Director in judging particular aspects of the school.

I have understood the organization, the program of the year, the events, and most importantly the reasons for all these events. The figure of the Director is the one of an adult to whom there is a Constant reference from the teachers , pupils and parents. They are very much aware and makes concrete the work on The Risk Of Education. They are aware of everything in the school- from the names of individual students to where a particulars class should be. They are clearly authorities that the others rely on. They are concerned with even the very small things especially order in their school- many times I have witnessed Annalisa switch off lights, dose doors..... I am moved by the primacy given to each child and many times I have been present when Annalisa discussed the work of a particular child with a teacher, suggestion are made, mostly involving the family, to enable the child understand better why he/she is at school.

My first and most memorable experience was how the day started in standard 5a: the children are very much aware of the concreteness of Christ and they ask from Him. The day begins with an awareness of being in the family of Christ. The moments in the Christian calendar are used to set the mood of the class an example is the saint of the day or the Advent. I have witnessed a lot of careful preparation to help pupils this moment with awareness. The children also help to look at their immediate environment- who is not present? Why? What day is it? What is the weather like?  They are not in a vacuum!  When they walk out of class they are in pairs this makes them aware they are never alone. The results have been children with, what is to me amazing capabilities and curiosity.

I have been very much struck by the consistency in the mode of work that puts the child at the centre. The child is able to learn in a simple and natural way with curiosity roused to the maximum. There is also a great help to learning through the use of teaching aids. The child is helped to explore with the teacher guiding. They have textbooks ,but the teacher is mainly the resource they tap from. In the 1 hour lesson activities are changed as often as need be because the teachers are sensitive to the concentration span  (Annalisa calls it respecting the time of the child). The teachers work together and there is a visible link. The teacher of art work with the science teacher if say the topic is water in science the art teacher will help to realize a project that will help to deepen what they have already learnt. I also witnessed a class 4 taking science notes in their informatics lesson. I feel very much challenged and will do my best especially with the awareness that the school will always depend on me look at me as the guide.

My wish is to continue, with me and my other colleagues, this collaboration that has now become a friendship. Thank you.


Salva Segnala Stampa Esci Home