The staff at Kiwimbi was quick to adapt to COVID-19 protocols set forth by the Kenyan government. Handwashing stations have been added outside the Library and at all remote book distribution and teaching locations. Students and staff wear masks (which were made by our tailoring class) and social distancing during lessons have all been successfully implemented without having a negative impact on instruction.
In Kenya the school year follows the calendar year, and for 2020 all schools, as well as the national KCPE test, have been cancelled. School is expected to resume in January 2021 with all students beginning again at the same Grade level that they began in January 2020.
The Grade 8 students have continued to come to the Library daily with their friends and siblings and Kiwimbi continues to be an oasis for students and their parents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In order to prevent our three Grade 8 groups from falling back and potentially failing the national exam in 2021, the teachers at Kiwimbi have switched their focus from direct exam preparation and practice of past examinations to remedial learning and to re-learning important concepts. Kids who are not technically a part of our KCPE-Prep program are also participating – attracted by the opportunities we offer while their own schools are closed.
These children have no learning resources at home – no smart phones, no computers, no TV, no internet. They come to the Kiwimbi Community Center and Library where they are admitted in small numbers at a time, and to Kiwimbi‘s satellite Libraries as well, to borrow books daily and to meet in small groups with our teachers.
The teachers first focused on identifying the learning gaps and needs and now have begun to fill those gaps by tutoring the children in their specific areas of weakness. Most of this learning will be done one-on-one or in small groups of two to four students. Local teachers, currently out of work, have volunteered to help so it has been easier to create small group instruction.
Our Food for Thought lunch program feeds more students than before, since the Grade 8 students bring their siblings who share their food. Careful observation of government regulations on social distancing is maintained during lunch.
Other activities like fine arts also continue for small groups, as do our Vocational programs including Tailoring, Carpentry and Kitchen Gardening. These manage by running on a 6-day rotation with the students divided in to two groups, each coming every other day.
Kiwimbi also provides programs explicitly for girls to encourage them to avoid teenage pregnancy during this year of no-schooling.