From the outset the plan to support education at Olng’arua was that it should reach out not just to children of school age but to the people in the community of all ages, and ultimately to be a centre of learning for the wider pastoralist community of western Isiolo District.
With the addition of an experienced adult literacy teacher to the team we have taken the first steps towards this goal. Now, after the children at the primary school have finished for the day, Olng’arua community education centre offers weekly adult literacy classes. The turnout for these classes has surpassed even our optimistic expectations; especially considering that there is, as with many communities around the world, a certain stigma attached to ‘not knowing’ and admitting that you can’t read or write by turning up to learn how. Not only has the turn out been good but it has been increasing week by week and I don’t just think that it to do with the cups of tea provided at the end of class!
Watching the classes from the side-lines they appear to be a huge amount of fun, lots of laughter and clapping and engagement. While drinking their cups of tea after class the students mingle and chat about their achievements and practice their new knowledge on each other. This great atmosphere is thanks in part to the enthusiasm of the learners but also largely due to the wonderful attitude of the teacher who guides the class with smiles, laughter and an obvious love of his job.
The next stage is to offer classes that can help members of the community apply for jobs in the local tourism sector (such as conversational English and guiding) and enterprise skills.