When the Kenyan government announced that schools would reopen in January 2021 after a nine-month break, students across the country were elated. It had been months of uncertainty with no end in sight. They had missed the classroom and their friends and were desperate to get their education back on track. The students reported back to school for the first term of 2021 on January 4th and the term ended on March 19th. We recently caught up with two of our secondary students – Peter and Ndulu – to better understand how their first term back in school had gone.
Both Peter and Ndulu agreed that they had been looking forward to returning to school for a very long time. Ndulu says she had been expecting things to go back to normal in a month or two when schools originally shut down back in March 2020. Of course, this was not the case.
“Days turned into months and soon we were counting more than six months away from the classroom,” she tells us. “Life at Dream Children’s Home was okay; there are many children to play with and Moja Tu also got us extra revision books to keep us occupied. Nonetheless, we still missed school and were always eagerly waiting for updates regarding schools reopening,” she says.
Peter agrees with Ndulu; he too had been impatiently waiting to return to school from his home in Laikipia. “I missed school, my teachers, my friends, and the learning activities and I was eager to pick up from where we had left off,” he says. “When we finally returned to school, I was relieved to see all my schoolmates in one piece. Having been away from each other for so long and in the midst of a pandemic was worrying. There was no way of knowing how our friends were doing and so seeing them was very comforting,” he says.
Once in school, they had to contend with a number of new protocols meant to ensure that everyone stayed healthy and safe. “The school management was very strict about everyone wearing masks and social distancing. Pre-COVID, our classrooms, dormitories and dining halls were always full to capacity. When we reported back, the school had made adjustments to lessen the number of people in all of these locations at one time,” Ndulu says. “Our schools also provided us with sanitizers to use frequently, and they canceled all extracurricular activities and games,” Peter adds.
Thanks to these measures, none of our students’ schools reported any cases of COVID-19 during the entire term. However, keeping the students safe was just one piece of the puzzle. The next step was getting everyone caught up on the information they had missed from last year’s syllabi.
Luckily, Peter and Ndulu tell us that they were well-prepared to work hard and cover the material they needed to catch up on. “Moja Tu ensured that all students had extra revision books to stay on top of the material, and these helped me so much with reviewing the concepts while I was away from school,” says Peter. “I didn’t have a hard time getting back into the material thanks to these.”
Both students tell us that they have learned some valuable life lessons during this difficult time. “I have learned to be patient and to persevere through hard times. Human life is precious, and we need to do everything we can to protect it,” Peter says. Ndulu agreed with him, saying, “I am now grateful for the little things. I am really grateful for my good health and for my support system, which includes everyone at Dream Children’s Home and Moja Tu.”
Peter and Ndulu are just two examples of how treasured the gift of education is to a student in need. New restrictions in Kenya have once again caused a delay in their returning to school, and they are both eagerly awaiting the news that they can return to the classroom. We will keep you posted with more updates about the students’ school schedules as we receive them.