Transforming our School
Even though 2020 will have mostly been a lost school year for Ol Jogi’s children, as well as for all the children in Kenya due to the pandemic, it will also be remembered as the year during which we made a considerable qualitative jump in terms of improving our infrastructure as well as our teaching methodology. It has been a most fruitful year in terms of conducting important structural renovations that would not have been possible otherwise, as well as transitioning our teaching approach towards the Montessori methodology.
Starting March 2020, we had to close down our school like every other school in the country, private or public alike. Initially, we had no idea of how long the lockdown would be but just seized the opportunity to push forward to complete important structural renovations that had been urgently needed.
Indeed, the Ol Jogi School has existed since the creation of the conservancy over 40 years ago. The current buildings were constructed in the early ’80s in solid timber structures. In recent years, however, bats had chosen to nestle under the roofs as their new abode. Their feces proved to be a serious health hazard. A complete renovation of the school roofs was the only durable solution as the bats resisted all the other attempts made to push them away. The same applied for ol Jogi’s medical dispensary.
Today, the Ol Jogi School is transformed. In addition to being beautiful, it feels brand new. The bat problem is thoroughly solved; they have left for their new home. The removal of the fake ceilings has revealed the unique workmanship of the original timber structure. Classrooms are airy, well ventilated, and very spacious. Children now are keener than ever to get to their classes. They are able to concentrate and spend several consecutive hours studying. Teachers feel enchanted with this new working environment.
In terms of community building, this project was really built on a collective engagement bringing the Ol Jogi Management, the parents, students and teachers together. Everyone volunteered where they could to make ends meet. We had mothers and children helping out with the cleaning, and fathers helping out on the roofs and moving materials around, during weekends and holidays.
All of these important works were made possible thanks to our generous and most supportive guests. We can’t thank you enough for having empowered us to turn a negative situation into an opportunity to do all of these much-needed renovation works. In addition to the bigger structural changes, our guests also supported us in conducting additional works. A new library came to life. A computer lab was created with Wi-Fi capacity, our kitchen and food storage room got an entire facelift, new ventilation towers were added, making it a hospitable working area even in the hottest hours of the day. Our dining hall was turned into two big classrooms that can be adjoined into a big assembly hall as needed. In addition, we were able to install five water storage tanks to store rainwater from our new roofs. New furniture was made for our kindergarten classes. A playground erected for the smaller children and new toilet facilities were installed for them.
Moreover, from a content point of view, our school was able to take its first steps in adopting a Montessori teaching methodology thanks to our new partnership with the Montessori Learning Center in Nairobi. Given the fact that they were not teaching, our teachers were able to follow a one-month online training in the summer of 2020, followed by an in situ training of a week in October 2020 by the headmistress herself of the MLC. Our friends at the MLC have been an incredibly generous source of support, both in material for our children but also in guiding us and supporting us in this transition of our teaching methodology. Both teachers and children are delighted by this new approach as it really seeks to develop a child’s autonomy and capacity for self-development.
All in all, the downtime of 2020 was put to the best possible use. As our school officially opened on the 4th of January 2020, all of our children rushed enthusiastically to eagerly start learning in their beautiful new school. A big heartfelt thank you goes out to all of our generous donors without whom any of this would have been possible. Thank you for having made such an impact on these children’s lives and helped us make 2020 a productive year for our school!