Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Laisamis Secondary School

Yesterday, we pulled into a town where the TDA has camped over the years: Laisamis. This is a small town on the rugged road, rocky and corrugated, from Marsabit. The community is home to a few schools which draw their pupils from outlying settlements, including subsistence farmers who eke out a living from humble herds of cattle, goats or camels. 

Our tour leader made contact with the headmaster of the local school and arranged for an evening Q and A with the boarding students at the secondary college. Randy introduced the session by explaining TDA's purpose and history to the assembled student body. Once we told the youth where we were from individually, we broke off into groups where personal contact was easier. 

The young folks asked many good questions about Canada, our government, our economy and the life far away. In response, I queried them on their The contrast between a Kenyan public school and a Canadiancould not be more stark. The school here has a generator to power the lights but often lacks electricity during the day. Washrooms are outdoor latrines without running water. The library has few books and the "textbooks" are dog-eared and out of date. 

One could improve the quality of education with a simple investment of modest resources. The staff, including the headmaster, seem committed to the delivery of a rich curriculum and they are doing so within a spartan environment. My presumption is that the elite of Kenyan society can send their children to international schools in Nairobi. With the exception of a small group of pupils who are identified as gifted early on, the post-secondary options for the teens here are quite limited. 

School uniforms are standard issue. The spirits of the group seemed to be high. At the close of the evening, they performed an exuberant dance and sent us off to our tents with best wishes. Though distinguishable from western adolescence in many ways, they share so many traits with their affluent counterparts. One common element is the love of English Premiership football and the Arsenal club. 

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