"School Safe Zones" Program
Photo: Kenya, Bill Wildey/CWS
Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.
- Nelson Mandela
Church World Service recognizes education as a basic human right and an essential ingredient in breaking the cycle of hunger and poverty. In cooperation with the government of Kenya, CWS initiated a “School Safe Zones” Program to strengthen struggling public schools in that country -- a program that can potentially be replicated broadly across the continent. And we need your help to do it.
CWS School Safe Zones
The CWS School Safe Zones Program which began in ten pilot sites, is providing a model of what all the schools of Africa might one day become:
- Secure environments, where children can learn and play in safety
- Stimulating environments, where teachers are well trained and have adequate materials for their classes
- Healthy environments, where children have access to safe water and basic health care
- Nurturing environments, where every child will enjoy at least one nutritious meal a day
Kenya was selected because of its commitment to education, illustrated by the decision of the Kenyan government in 2003 to make primary education free to all children. This laudable action, however, brought its own challenges, including overcrowded classrooms and school facilities, overtaxed teachers, lack of sufficient learning materials and equipment, and inadequate security for students.
Beginning with priorities established by the communities where the schools are located, Church World Service partners with local organizations, churches, businesses, ministries of education, and other community groups to develop School Safe Zones.
Today, the program is working with some 70 school communities in Kenya to transform them into productive learning environments. The program is also expanding into Burundi, refurbishing and equipping nine schools and two vocational training centers.
Working with Kenya’s Ministry of Education, the SSZ program is also engaged in countrywide advocacy activities on school safety and has recently launched a government-approved policy manual that will assist schools in achieving minimum standards of safety. Through the relationship with the Ministry of Education, the SSZ manual is being disseminated to some 18,000 primary and 4,500 secondary schools across the country.
A glimpse at one school
Wangu School is located in the slums of Nairobi, on the border of the Nairobi dump. There are 2,000 children and 28 teachers, and class sizes range from 80 to 120 students. With CWS assistance, many improvements have been made at the school. Seven classrooms have had their falling ceilings replaced and fitted with burglar-proof windows and doors. Six classrooms have had floors repaired and walls repainted. Pre-school classes have been upgraded, and floors fitted with tiles.
Wangu school has also acquired a title deed to the property after a hard struggle with land grabbers who had encroached on the school property. Because of the energy created by the School Safe Zones project and the mobilization of parents, teachers and community leaders, the Kenyan government has contributed to the cost of a perimeter wall, a modern kitchen, and an administrative block. Also, where there were once only a few toilets to accommodate all of the students, now there is a new, clean toilet block. And, with the help of two energy-efficient stoves provided by CWS, the school’s cooks are more able to provide nutritious meals for the students.
Students take pride in their school now. Many have joined clubs. The environmental club has planted trees, shrubs and flowers around the school grounds. One class 8 pupil says, “Because of these changes we are able to pay more attention in class and perform better in exams. We are excelling in music and other extracurricular activities. In fact, our school Wangu was chosen this year to represent Nairobi in a musical concert held in Kampala, Uganda. Our school is now respected by all for its hard work. We love our school.”
For more information about the “School Safe Zones” Program, call your local CWS Regional Office at 1-888-CWS-CROP (297-2767).
Read more examples | Back to top