|Blair in Kenya||
The Blair Educational Center -- Kisumu, Kenya
Library and Computer Center
In the summer of 2012, we began construction of a private elementary school called the Blair Educational Center in a small village overlooking the shores of Lake Victoria. Our goal was to create the best school in the area -- one that would empower the community and lift its economic status. We believe -- and studies confirm -- that private schools in the poorest areas of the world significantly outperform their public school counterparts due to the increased incentives for teachers and administrators.
As with all of our projects, it is not a handout, but a collaboration between Americans and Kenyans -- we think that projects like this work best when there is a shared goal and shared responsibility. Therefore, in numerous meetings with community leaders, a school was deemed to be the most pressing concern, the land was donated, the construction has been managed locally, and the school is run by volunteers who share our goals. Because we have no overhead -- everyone working on this project from both American and Kenya is a volunteer -- we are able to provide the services at a greatly reduced cost.
Nursery and pre-first classes began in January, 2013 (the start of the Kenyan school year), and enthusiasm in the community spread quickly. School fees are very reasonable -- about $3/month which is used to pay the salaries of the teachers and the cost of operating the school -- and we offer significant financial aid to those who can't afford even this amount. Our plan is to continue to build the school over a number of years in order to allow these first students to graduate from 8th grade in the fall of 2022.
Thanks to the generous support of our friends here in America, we have constructed six classrooms, a library/computer center, a Principals Office, a kitchen, toilets, and a well. We are the only school in the area to offer lunch -- we think it senseless to send students to school all day without any food and therefore we provide what is in many cases the only substantial meal of the day. In the summer of 2014, we opened the first library and computer center of any Elementary school in the County (and one of the few in the country). We have 10 computers connected to the internet, and we offer computer education to both the students and adults of the community. Further, we have a library of over 2,000 books which are also available for the community. Since most students in the area lack both electricity and the textbooks necessary for their success, we open the facility at night to provide a comfortable place to study. We have purchased every Kenyan textbook for every grade and make these books available in the evening.
In June, 2015, we finished construction on two new classrooms, 8 toilets, and finalized the purchase of additional land for athletic fields. In addition to building the playing fields, we are working to build a dining room and to improve the kitchen during the remainder of 2015.