Helping children with disabilities return to school in Turkana

Ezra playing football with friends after school in Lodwar, Turkana
© UNICEF Kenya/2021/Lameck Orina

As the school day finishes in Lodwar, Turkana, a group of boys runs out onto a sandy football pitch between their classrooms. There is a flash of colour beneath their pink school shirts, which some of them peel off to reveal international football club shirts beneath. They run up and down the pitch with tremendous energy, gesturing at each other. Finally, 13-year-old Ezra, wearing an Atletico Madrid t-shirt, gets a clear shot at the goal. He lines it up and shoots. The ball swerves past the goalkeeper and lands behind the goalpost, kicking up a small cloud of dust as it lands. Ezra throws up his arms in celebration. But there is little or no sound from the players, all of whom are fully or partially deaf.

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Top of the class: helping adolescent girls return to school

Teacher Hellen starts an English language class at Namoruputh Primary School
© UNICEF Kenya/2021/Lameck Orina

This story first appeared in The Star newspaper.

Sixteen-year-old Christine Aleper sits in a Grade 4 English class at Namoruputh Primary School, in Turkana County. It is a hot, dry afternoon and a sudden gust of wind blows dust through the open windows. Christine is much taller than the other children in the class, who range from 9 to 11-years old, and the only one wearing a blue and white school uniform. But the fact that she is learning English at all is remarkable, given her background. Standing by the board, her teacher, Hellen, explains the different types of articles – a, an, the – and when to use them. She asks for examples and Christina stands and reads out: “a ball, an apple, the sun.”

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Linked In: connecting schools to the Internet in Turkana

Teacher Mwangangi guides a student using a tablet connected to the Internet at Namoruputh Primary School
© UNICEF Kenya/2021/Lameck Orina

This story first appeared in The Star newspaper.

It is late morning in Namoruputh Primary School in Turkana, hot and dusty despite the wintertime. The school is close to the border with Uganda, which is lined by a ridge of high mountains on the horizon where rainclouds gather. Behind a classroom, a large satellite dish has been installed, surrounded by a makeshift fence of thorny branches, gathered from the bushes that punctuate the sandy ground.

Inside, teacher Mwangangi begins an unusual science lesson. He draws a diagram of a flower on the blackboard, but instead of telling the children the names of the parts of the flower, or handing out a textbook, he asks them to Google it. The children bend over their distinctive lime-coloured tablets, searching for images with the right information. Cecilia Akai, 13, raises her arm “Teacher, teacher,” she says. He gives her a chalk and she walks to the board, where she writes ‘stigma’ on the correct part of the flower. After naming all the parts of the flower, the teacher asks the children to research their functions and they break into groups, searching and discussing the results.

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Leading role: Head Teachers Association improves schools

Headmaster Pemba (left) with members of Kwiputi Primary School’s Learners Council
© UNICEF Malawi/2018/Eldson Chagara

In the packed earth yard at the centre of Kwiputi Primary School, a group of girls gather to practice netball, ahead of a district competition. The pitch is rudimentary, with goal posts made from wooden poles with scrap motorbike wheel rims attached to the top. The girls shout out to each other, with team coach Samayat, 14, giving directions. Rain clouds gather ominously overhead, but the girls keep on playing. Suddenly Samayat gets a clear shot at the goal ring, throws the ball, and scores.

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Back to school: Mother Group helps children get an education

Potato seller Rosie is a member of the Kampini School Mother Group
© UNICEF Malawi/2018/Eldson Chagara

An unusual sight greets visitors to Headmaster Emmanuel Mabwera’s house at Kampini Primary School, Dedza. The front room has been converted into a workshop for the Mother Group, which coordinates between the school and local community. Old fashioned sewing machines sit on desks, surrounded by old clothes and materials. The mothers are hard at work sewing sanitary pads for adolescent girls, to prevent them missing school during their periods.

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