Outcomes and Learnings from Open Schools Kenya mapping in Kangemi

by: June 5th, 2019 comments: 0

Mapping distribution

The schools mapping of the Kangemi slum and associated surroundings was a very successful exercise, and provided much-needed information for everyone from Kangemi’s residents and parents to policy advisers and education experts to governmental education officials. The project brought together youth residents of Kangemi with Map Kibera mappers, who, working closely with local school leaders and advocates for informal schools, mapped nearly 300 schools. These now appear on Map Kibera’s Open Schools Kenya school database. The mapping exercise, possible thanks to the support of Indigo Trust, has brought visibility to these schools, and increased both information and knowledge about the number and kind of schools in Kangemi. It has also equipped schools and activists with a key resource in advocating for improvements to and recognition of these schools.

Kangemi Schools Mapping

Just like in Kibera, before the project began, Map Kibera conducted a survey with parents, teachers and government officials to try and understand the information gap in regards to education. Parents, for example, were interested in the distance of a school from their home, how much a school charges, and the ratio of teachers to students before selection a school for their children. Other data points that were collected included the number of students, availability of toilet, school building materials, electricity availability, number of teachers, and many more.

Map Kibera also talked to teachers and school leaders, and met with a number of important figures in Kangemi education. Particularly supportive throughout the exercise was Kangemi’s Alternative Provision of Basic Education and Training (APBET) coordinator, Evans Onchiri. Evans is a tireless advocate and organizer on behalf of the schools, and he particularly welcomed the addition of detailed data and maps to better support APBET schools (APBET is what the schools are now called which were previously known as “informal” or “non-formal”). Map Kibera found that although there is a government policy to recognize these schools — which would allow them to access more resources, have some oversight in place, and be part of the provision of free basic education guaranteed by law to all children — the process of registering under the policy is not clear and has been stalled over several years. Having a better idea of the number of students served and locations of these schools is essential to pushing forward on this policy. The Sub-County Education Director, Phillip Chirchir, and the area Member of Parliament (MP), Tim Wanyonyi also indicated to Map Kibera that they needed a more comprehensive understanding of the schools in their area.

The schools mapping exercise covered both the schools already on local leaders’ lists, and also unknown schools found directly in the field. From the initial main focus areas of Kangemi, which included Kangemi ward and Mountain View ward, the schools mapping exercise was expanded to other slum areas, following the request of the Sub-County Education Director and the area Member of Parliament. The additional mapped areas are the following: Kibagare slum, Deep Sea slum, and Githogoro slum. All the mapped areas fall into the Westlands Sub-County. The total number of the mapped schools is 282, out of which only 19 are public schools, including pre-primary, primary and secondary levels. Therefore, the majority of schools (263) are APBET schools.

A few outcomes:

Seven youth have been trained in Kangemi on how to collect data using the OpenDataKit app, how to edit maps using JOSM software, and how to upload data onto OpenStreetMap. The youth reported a general satisfaction about the additional skills learned. After the completion of their work, the youth mappers reported raised awareness and general knowledge about their own community. Moreover, the new team of trained mappers in Kangemi could be further involved in updating schools’ information and in other related local developments.

The website Open Schools Kenya has been made mobile-friendly so that it can be easily viewed and used on a smartphone. Previously, due to the difficulty navigating a map on a small screen, the site was best viewed on a laptop. Thanks to feedback from users at schools, we prioritized making sure that they can also navigate the site using their phone’s mobile browser. This makes the data much easier to access. Additionally, we worked on the submission form for data corrections, making it more user-friendly and better suited to the needs of schools to submit changes.

The schools and teachers have been very happy about the project. In the first phase, they reported interest in knowing the location of their own school and of the other schools in the area, in particular, to better know the number of pupils, the facilities and the services provided by the other schools. After the mapping exercise was completed and the schools received the printed map, they reported surprise at being able to see the outcomes of the project. In fact, during past experiences, many researchers went in the area collecting data without going back afterward for community restitution and feedback. Moreover, they reported general excitement for being able to locate their own school on the map and to be able to display the printed map in their office for multiple purposes. The schools also highlighted the importance of the online school page. Having their own specific page on OSK, they are now able to easily update the information, advertise and fundraise for their school, and also help engage parents in the community in decision-making about where to send their sons and daughters to school and increase the quality of their education.

Key local education officials were particularly pleased with the outcomes of the mapping exercise. Both Ms. Esther Kimani, the Sub County Quality Assurance Officer, and Mr. Phillip Chirchir, the Sub County Director of Education, highlighted the importance of being able to locate the schools, especially APBET schools, and to have the head teacher’s contact for each school on the OSK website. They are now able to better reach out to the schools and advise the Ministry of Education about their needs.

Map Kibera is now collaborating with education specialists from local organizations Each Rights and African Population and Health Research Centre (APHRC) to include the data and findings of the mapping in their advocacy and policy advising. With their assistance, already Map Kibera has presented the schools’ map to the National Council for Nomadic Education (NACONEK), which oversees APBET country-wide, at a joint meeting discussing schools information and potential mapping of all the APBET schools in Nairobi. Map Kibera has also been working with the Kangemi Resource Centre, a local CBO, to establish a workspace for the Kangemi mappers and to develop joint plans for updating the schools’ data regularly. All three of these key partners also presented at the launch event, which allowed them to connect with the various Kangemi school leaders and share some of their advocacy work.

The schools mapping in Kangemi and beyond led to an increased awareness of existing schools and resources within the community itself. As a teacher from a school in Githogoro slum stated, the schools in these marginalized areas are usually left out from development in Westlands. Both the map and the website are therefore crucial to make visible and clear their presence in order to assure their inclusion into the public education system and the overall education policymaking and planning.

The Toi Fire Agony

by: April 30th, 2019 comments: 0

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It was on the dawn of 12th March, around 3 am, that Kibera residents woke up to the news that one of the largest markets in Nairobi, Kibera’s Toi market, was on fire.

Most of the traders come from a bit far from the market and so they could not rescue a lot of their goods and ended up losing almost all their properties to the fire.

Those who live in the neighboring villages came together to try and put out the fire using any means they could, including having to literally walk with water buckets to and from the sources of water.  One Ramsha Dee Maunda even posted a picture of himself with fire injuries after spending time trying to help put off the fire.

ToiMarketMap

There was heavy presence of the General Service Unit of The Police guarding the market that morning and no one, not even the traders, were allowed to access the market and there was  no explanation given for that, many people were left guessing what the reason for that could be.

Relief came when the former Prime Minister came to speak to the affected traders and, together with the County Government of Nairobi, stepped in and offered iron sheets to help in rebuilding the structures and also help in restructuring their business lives all over again.

According to the traders we interviewed, the iron sheets, worth five million, were still not enough aid to help them restart their businesses again, and most of them turned to money lending institutions to be able to rise again from the ashes and make things work for them.

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The market is so far taking back its former shape and glory and very soon, according to most traders, things will be fully back to normal.

“We are only requesting the customers to come back because the market is now operational,” summarizes Mr. Fredrick Mutinda, trader at Toi Market.

The Plight of Schools Demolished in Kibera

by: November 9th, 2018 comments: 0

Road demolition

 

2018 is a year that most of Kibera residents would really like to forget. In the last 6 months, the residents of Kibera have been waking up to the sounds of bulldozers in their neighbourhood- not for purposes of evading traffic along Lang’ata road or Ngong Road. This time they had come with one purpose, to bring down structures which most of them had called home. To some, it was their business which ensured that they had something on the table at the end of the day. And to others these structures served as schools where their children went to learn and get the necessary knowledge that would prepare them for the market place and change their lives forever.

A Map designed by Zack Wambua showing the effects of the demolitions of schools in Kibera.

A map designed by Zack Wambua showing the effects of the demolitions of schools in Kibera (click image to expand).

The demolitions in Kibera affected 4 schools that were located near the railway line around 42 area and 10 more schools were affected when structures were demolished to pave way for the construction of Kibera Link road (the road meant to link Ngong road and Lang’ata road to ease traffic on Ngong road).

Demolition of structures that are along the railway line at 42

Demolition of structures that are along the railway line at 42

A bulldozer brings down structures around the DC's place.

A bulldozer brings down structures around the DC’s place.

After all these incidents Map Kibera team went back to the field to track the schools that were affected and update their current location on the Open Schools Kenya website. On our way, we stopped at Babylon Day Care to talk to the school head (who also happens to own the school) to find out if she knows where some of the demolished schools might have moved to. In between our conversation, we learnt that one of her other schools had also been demolished. Her face was filled with grief and sadness as she explained to us how she was forced to take some of her students to the nearest schools because she had nowhere to take them. We asked if she intends to reopen her school again and she told us she doesn’t see the need to and if she gets that chance again she will only do that in her rural place. After our short talk she shared with us the contacts of another school called Damside Preparatory that was affected and told us that the principal of that school would be in a position to tell us where the other schools relocated to.

 

Field work 1

In some area we had find a way through the muddy footpaths to find the schools

In some area we had find a way through the muddy footpaths to find the schools

I quickly saved the number on my phone and proceeded to where we had been directed. When we got there, we were met with a vast empty land and the remains of what used to be people’s homes and schools. I called the school head and after a brief introduction he told me to go to where the school used to be as he was already there. We went through the rubble and after few miles we saw a group of people standing together. When we got to where they were we quickly introduced ourselves. The school head introduced the team that he was with, which comprised of class 8 candidates and two parents. The school head reminded us that the place where we were standing on is where their school used to stand and they were meeting there to finalize on their preparations for the forthcoming national exams. We were curious to find out where the students will sit for their exams now that the school had been demolished.

“The government offered space for the students in one of the nearby public school and so that is where they will do their exams,” said the school head.

“So what is next for the school? Have you found a place to move to?” we asked.

“Yes we got a place, we bought land somewhere close to Kiserian and that is where we have moved to,” said the school head. He went on to say, “So far we have been able to construct 2 classrooms and a dormitory. The plan is to have the school operate as a boarding school.”

“But that’s too far from Kibera, what happens to your students who live in Kibera?”

“I agree that’s far and the move has proved to be a challenge to some of our students since majority of them were needy and so they cannot afford all the requirements to be in a boarding school. We would have loved to move closer but where in Kibera can we move to? We all know how hard it is to get land let alone to get a title deed.”

The School head of Damside narrating their ordeal

The School Head of Damside narrating their ordeal

The school head went ahead to recount how they had incurred a lot of losses as a result of the demolition. He had just acquired the code to make his school an exam centre, a process that had cost him 100,000 KSH. In addition, he had just finished building a laboratory earlier this year that also cost him a large sum of money.

Afterwards, the school head agreed to an impromptu interview with members of our media team, Kibera News Network, who had accompanied us (check out their video here!). He also asked us to interview one of the parents and a student so that they can share their side of the story.

The school head later told us where the other schools moved to. One moved to a nearby SDA church, another pitched tent in a nearby health dispensary and the other one moved somewhere along Karanja road.

Field work 2

After saying goodbye, we left to find those schools and pick the coordinates of their new location. On our way we couldn’t help but think of what some schools have had to endure as a result of the demolitions. Some have been left counting

Sam picking coordinates of where one of the schools moved to.

Sam picking coordinates of where one of the schools moved to.

losses, some have been forced to shut down. Others have had to partition some of the rooms to accommodate the number of students. Parents had to go through the hustle of looking for a new school and the most affected group is the students that have to walk a long distance to their new school and at the same time adapt to the new environment. I can’t imagine what could be going through the minds of class 8 and form 4 candidates. How are they supposed to compete with students from other schools considering what they have been through? While other students were in classes reading, students from the affected schools were busy trying to salvage what they could from the rubbles of what used to be their classroom. While other students are reading their books, students from these schools lost all their books during the demolition. The few books that they could salvage would have to be shared amongst themselves which means that they don’t get a chance to carry the books home with them to read.

We will continue to follow up with the schools, and update their information and locations on Open Schools Kenya.