The meeting was held on 26th April 2017 at Dabaso Library.
28 Students, former students and librarians from both libraries attended. The meeting was organized by the librarians and empowered by the Akili Trust Organization.
At the meeting, present members agreed to a formula on how to conduct the event. Eventually, the final verdict was to divide the students into clusters. In the clusters, the students would discuss diversities at their respective schools and come up with a common agenda. They would raise issues e.g. problems (at school, home or library), challenges etc within the groups. The groups were also to consist of students from both libraries. Gender balance within the groupings was also addressed.
However, the ex-students attending had to be grouped separately. These students could not be merged with the young ones because we wanted them to freely debate without feeling prejudiced. We did allocate the former students time to speak to the lot, they lacked much experience and exposure because all of them did complete secondary course last year. We could not get students beyond last year due to the short timing of events.
As agreed, the participants of every group would later table their findings back at the general sitting. The speakers would be members selected by all group members from each cluster.
There would follow a lunch break after these presentations. Later, the boys would sit with Fred and Cornelius while the girls would stay with Janet and Caroline for a random session, then the head teacher from Dabaso Primary School (Mrs. Esther Kuto) would grace the occasion.
As thought, the computer class was not administered. We were overrun by the timing of events.
We hired the services of a local lady cook to provide lunch for the group.
For lunch, we had rice, beef, chicken meat, vegetables and drinks.
GENERAL ISSUES DISCUSSED
The points we discussed at the meeting were divided into two categories. There were those we could discuss exhaustively at the meeting and those that needed the attention of school management committees and parents.
Issues needing the school attention
a) shortage of water
It came a time where water supply was rationed in many parts of Kilifi County. It dawned on the residents of the county that the main County water supply board had unpaid electricity arrears. Due to such accumulations, it was believed electricity supply had to be interrupted thereby leading to massive water shortage.
Well, at the meeting, we thought this was a very awkward situation because students had to go to streams and access dirty water.
The water collected from ground sources had to be purified in most schools before usage.
For the schools having water reservoirs, (as we also learned that some schools had reservoirs storing water in case of shortages), they didn’t experience any difficulties during such spells.
We realized water shortage had become rampant recently thereby leading many schools to drill boreholes and construct reservoirs.
b) Shortage of qualified teaching staff
Some students reported not having enough teachers at their schools. To them, it meant that they had to go on days, even weeks without being taught examinable subjects. Some students said some teachers brought to the schools are not trained. We have also planned to sit down with their parents as they have to raise these points during the academic clinics.
Issues needing the library attention
a) Revision guides
There was a general cry from students of both libraries that the libraries should be restocked especially with the revision guides.
Although we encouraged the students to make use of the available books, we concurred with them that something ought to be done. However, we promised them that we would bring forth the issue to the trustees and wait for a feedback.
The students are also aware that they will be taking an integral role during the next restocking. We collected information from them during the school holidays on the types of books to be sought.
b) Girls education
The girls had mixed reactions about experience and needs. This is because they come from different schools and different background. Some girls in our team do not have confidence at all, they relied much on what others had to say. They lack some basic needs while at school. They lack sanitary towels and pocket money. They lack study time while at home during school holidays. They are supposed to help in the farms during this rain season; they are assigned domestic chores too. Some of these inadequacies e.g. lack of pocket money and other quality essentials tempt the girls to develop early boy to girl, man to girl relationship as they scavenge for financial support.
At the library, they lack important revision books e.g. guides, African storybooks and set books which are examinable.
Our view is our girls need urgent attention. We support your quest to improve the girls’ literacy levels by all means. We need to form a structured way of helping them especially those from the most impoverished families. Janet and I wished at the meeting yesterday if you can only provide a select few copies of revision guides and the set books just for the girls. We will see to it how to present them so the boys will understand why we will be taking such a move, for the sake of the girls.
c) Computer training
In the next holiday, both libraries will be able to set up computer classes for the students. Apart from studying, computer training is one of the ways of empowering them.
In using Word, some of the students just need a little supervision as we have realized a good number of them were introduced to computer class at school. A few though have not accessed them at all, these need proper training, for internet access, the libraries would need a Wi-Fi connection or a modem. We don’t have the Wi-Fi installation in both libraries; the modems consume internet bundles faster.
On a normal day, we prefer the phone bundles which come with timely preferences and offers.
Here we can both see the possibilities of acquiring the Wi-Fi or getting the modems particularly for the training day.
For the future, we have planned that Cornelius and Caroline will guide the students gradually on computer in the respective libraries and the two will also be in a position to guide them through during meeting days at a common venue.
d) School arson
About this subject, we reiterated to them that they can be the good ambassadors. There is need to find an alternative means of communicating unheard issues to the school boards than burning or destroying property through demos. It is the parent who eventually suffers by paying hefty amounts to rebuild schools, citing the example of Malindi High School where the Trust paid about KES 54,000 for the readmission of two students after students gutted down the entire school library.
Such an amount is equivalent to paying a fee for one student in a boarding school for one year!
After these discussions, the school head finally rose to speak to the students. We did invite her on that day as our chief guest. She would then motivate the students and teach them on a number of key issues e.g. early pregnancies, setting the right academic goals etc.
We realized at the end that the students had really benefited from that outing. They requested that a repeat of it should be organized as soon as possible in Kakuyuni.
We also believed that the teachings of that day will help our students to scrutinize their studies more seriously.
Sera Baloni, Sunday Baya, Sharon Kache, John Dzengo, Jumaa Mumba, Robert Kimanyi, Mercyline Jumwa, Joshua Amani, Justine Kadzitu, Emmaculate Nyevu, Selvina Mturi
Nema Karisa, Mohammed Abdalla, Cynthia Medza, Mwanathumu Athman, Charo Kazungu, Ramdhan Baya, Evelyn Mtana, Leonard Ndurya, Nicholas Garama, Maitha Jumaa, Lucy Kazungu
Omar Ali, Becky Lewa, Baraka Diwani
Kadzo Kazungu, Baraka Francis, Thomas Mbura
Omar is helping his mother at a cafe while Becky is working part-time teaching young students at a small private school. Baraka Francis is taking a computer course – all of them are preparing to go to the university later in the year.
For transport, we hired two mini vans. We also incurred the cost of transporting former students. The total cost of transport was KES 10,000.
For food and drinks, we spent KES 17,500.
For the cook and cutlery services, we paid KES 2,000.
Total cost was KES 29,500.
Special thanks to the Akili Trust for organizing such a wonderful event.
To the students, thank you for making this day a success.
To my fellow librarians, thank you for your endless support for coming up with this report.