Recent news stories from Turkana have majored on the issue of food and water with several schools closing for the lack of these essentials. Not only are nutrition and hydration important for health, but also children cannot learn effectively if they are hungry. The impact of current food and water shortages is patchy with mission schools more likely to be able to provide than others given the support from outside the country and better local facilities.
One of the schools which we support is St Joseph’s Primary in Nariokotome. St Joseph’s provides education for children from the age of 8 with the primary aim to ensure the children are well fed and that they obtain a well-rounded education which will improve their prospects later in life. It is very much hoped that the families will then support their children going to secondary school in Lodwar, the capital of Turkana region, as presently there is a shortage of secondary schools more locally.
The main objectives are supported by specifics – an emphasis on hygiene, on agriculture and on potable water, along with the teaching of English to both pupils and parents, the provision of a balanced diet and empowering mothers to send their children to school. Fruit and vegetables produced in the school help alleviate some of the impact of shortages while also giving an opportunity to teach basic agricultural skills which will sustain the pupils in later life. Making ends meet remains a challenge and the school is, for the time being, heavily dependent on support for New Ways and others.
The school draws its pupils from three main villages – Solar, Anam and Nachukui and children either walk to school or are sent on motor bikes. There are schools nearer the villages and children are encouraged to attend these, but many prefer to make the longer trek to St Joseph’s – because it is seen as being more stable and offering better education. There is a fine balance here for the project managers who want to continue to build the effectiveness of St Joseph’s but also to support the growth of the sector in the area more generally.
Continued support for the school is important. The parents contribute £8 a year which covers the cost of uniforms. Everything else has to be provided by other means – food, salaries, and running costs all need external input.