Over the years our educational partnership with the Dioceses of Embu, Kirinyaga and Mbeere in Kenya has gone from strength to strength.
Through this successful project hundreds of members of staff and thousands of children have experienced and enjoyed cultural diversity and have discovered for themselves what it means to be a global citizen.
The schools in both countries have benefited in rich and varied ways as the emphasis is on learning and cultural exchange. An underlying principle of the partnership is mutual learning for both staff and children. Many of the schools in the Chelmsford Diocese are small and rural and it can be a struggle at times to convey to their pupils an understanding of cultural diversity. Similarly, in the rural schools of Kenya, pupils and students often have a limited view of the world outside their village and the opportunity to meet and talk with people from a different culture prompts huge excitement and curiosity. Members of staff are able to return to their schools having had first-hand experience of another culture. As with anything, if one is hearing someone’s own story it is so much more powerful and inspiring than reading about it in a book or searching for information on the Internet.
The Connecting Classrooms partnership, funded by the British Council, is a key part of our Kenyan overseas link. The visits are mainly funded by the British Council but many of the schools have also funded their own teacher visits by fundraising activities (as part of the project).
Each British school has to choose a project after liaising with their Kenyan partnership school and all of these projects are linked to the British Council Sustainable Development Goals. The work for the project is a school based project and is often cross curricular, thereby impacting on the learning of the whole school in primary schools and selected subject areas for secondary schools.
A group of 31 staff from schools and 2 staff the Diocese were planning to visit our partnership schools in Kirinyaga, Embu and Mbeere in May 2020, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic these arrangements had to be postponed.
The schools in the current partnership and due to travel are mostly infant, junior or primary, however we have three other secondary schools linked to secondary schools in Kenya.
The schools are from the three districts we are currently working with but there are plans to extend this (dependent on the British Council funding) to a fourth district of Meru.
In February 2018 Pamela Draycott and 16 delegates from schools situated in the Chelmsford Diocese visited link schools in one of the three Dioceses of either Embu, Kirinyaga and Mbeere.
The schools involved in this visit were: Heathland’s Primary (Kathari), St Edward’s Primary (Kanyuambora), Lawford Primary (Kiburu), The Cathedral School (St Peter’s Gatituri), All Saints, Fordham (Njega), Ardleigh St Mary’s (St Paul’s Kutu), White Notley (Kagio) and All Saints Great Oakley (Kathajuri).
Below is a broad outline of the visit.
9 February: Travel from UK – overnight stay at the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) guesthouse in Nairobi.
10 February: Travel to Embu to stay at the Izaak Walton Inn. Late afternoon meeting with the education secretaries from Embu, Kirinyaga and Mbeere along with headteacher and teacher colleagues from the link schools.
11 February: Delegates either went to church with their link school colleagues or visited Embu cathedral. Following on various trips out sightseeing. Late afternoon and evening – preparing for the school visits.
12 - 14 February: Visits by UK teachers to their link school. A variety of activities including teaching, planning joint projects, tree planting and much photo-taking!
15 February: Travel back to Nairobi to stay at the ACK guesthouse in preparation for a British Council meeting the following day. Afternoon visit to the giraffe centre in Nairobi which is funded by the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife.
16 February: Meet up with other teachers from around the UK and Kenya involved in Connecting Classrooms at the Kenya Institute for Curriculum Development.
17 February: Early morning safari at the Nairobi National Park followed by a visit to the elephant orphanage, a shopping mall and a bead factory. Final dinner in Kenya and overnight flight back to the UK.