John Tyman's
Cultures in Context Series
AFRICAN HABITATS : 
FOREST, GRASSLAND AND SLUM 
Studies of the Maasai, the Luhya, and Nairobi's Urban Fringe
PART FOUR : KIBERA
41a. Educational Facilities II : 600-616
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600. With 52 students the room is stuffy in the hottest months, even with the louvred windows. The school is poorly resourced and the teachers are paid only 8,000 shillings a month.
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601. For comparison, the mayor of Nairobi gets a quarter of a million each month and the city councilors get 150,000. They have responsible positions and probably need to be well paid, but the people of Kibera derive little benefit from their administration. And in making changes on their own the hands of the local population are often frustrated by the Ministry of Local Government. So itís no wonder the ceiling of Samís old classroom is collapsing.
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602. The school compound. The building on the right carries warnings about AIDS, which is a real problem here. Itís estimated that 15% of Kiberaís total population are HIV positive, a rate twice the national average. Children even of Sam's age, that is kids aged of 10 or 11, are dying of the disease. Many were born with HIV/AIDS: others contracted it through sexual activity. Young girls are especially vulnerable in poor families desperate for an income of some sort ... when a man in a flashy car pulls up beside them on their way home from school.
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603. Unfortunately the campaign here to prevent infection has been counter-productive in some ways. The dominant message seems to be that if you have HIV/AIDS you must be immoral, and the stigma attached to those who admit to having the disease discourages many from seeking treatment. The words over the poster urge children to "Change so you can live", but for those who live in extreme poverty the range of options open to them is terribly limited. There is little that they can change. In Kenya as a whole the rate of infection has actually declined, but it is still high in peoplesí settlements.
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604.The problem is exacerbated by poor sanitation and the lack of clean water, because poor standards of health and personal hygiene encourage the spread of HIV/AIDS, which is opportunistic in nature. With no gutters or down-pipes to collect rainwater, the school, with a thousand students, depends on a small 20,000 litre tank filled from a standpipe provided by the City Council. A tank is required to store water because the flow from the Council main is unreliable.
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605. The school playground, where the children get to play soccer in their lunch break. The trees in the background are part of the Ngong Forest, which separates/shields one of the wealthiest residential suburbs in the city from the informal settlements.
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606. Girls and boys play soccer together, and there is good interaction between the sexes. The ball is usually improvised, fashioned from plastic bags tied together with string.
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607. In the dry season the playground is very dusty and many children come down with eye, throat and chest infections.
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608. Two of the teachers at Samís old school. The man on the right is the sports teacher. He is still highly motivated, and since soccer is Sam's main interest in life the two of them got on well. Sam's love for soccer and his great playing skill were what opened the door to a very different life. Someone wrote of his skills to friends in Australia and they arranged for his travel.
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609. In Australia Sam played on fields that were green with grass year-round, and he played with a leather ball -- not one made of plastic bags and string. He was the star of his new team ... helping them to win the championship! (School playing field in Murwillumbah.)
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610. Three of Sam's closest friends during his school days in Kenya. The classrooms behind them were actually built during the colonial period, in the 1950s, and are already showing signs of their age.
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611. Toilets at Sam's school. There are two toilet blocks with pit latrines, each with 4 cubicles. One block is for boys, and one for girls. In each set of four toilets one is reserved for teachers.
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612. While the facilities at the Nairobi Council school are poor by Australian standards they are significantly better than those in most community schools ... though this one had a water tank provided by donors overseas who had a link to the school. (Outside a community school in Kibera.)
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613. It was built by members of the local community with the limited funds they could muster between them. With walls and roof mostly made of recycled iron sheeting, it is hot during the high sun season and cold during the cooler part of the year. (Nairobi lies close to the Equator but at an elevation of almost 2,000 metres and temperatures of 10 or 11 degrees are common at night in the cool season. ) They had no money for glass windows either so it is dark inside, since obtaining and paying for electricity here would be prohibitively expensive.
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614. Even in schools like this, built to serve the needs of the poorest inhabitants of Nairobi, the children are required to wear expensive uniforms: and their parents have to pay for their textbooks also. These students get to see what they are doing. They are among he lucky ones who get to sit by the open door: but their's can be a cold spot on a windy day -- hence the sweaters.
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615. They were also better off than the younger children, whose classroom had more in common with those of nomadic rural communities in northern Kenya.
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616. And the impossibility of providing children with anything more than the most rudimentary facilities was obvious at this nursery school run by another community group. It charges fees like other schools but cannot afford to hire properly trained teachers: and for a playground the children had to use the road and the railway.


AFRICA CONTENTS


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