Feature: China-sponsored school boosts literacy among Kenyan slum children

Source:Xinhua 2018-09-10

KENYA-NAIROBI-MATHARE SLUMS-INTERNATIONAL LITERACY DAY

  Students attend class at the KEDA DBSA School in Nairobi, Kenya, on Sept. 7, 2018. The KEDA DBSA school was constructed by Chinese volunteers affiliated with Dream Building Service Association (DBSA), and opened its doors to students in late August. DBSA is a non-profit organization jointly founded by Chinese college students and overseas students in Kenya's Mathare slums. The International Literacy Day is to be marked on Saturday with the theme "Literacy and Skills Development". (Xinhua/Zhang Yu)

  NAIROBI, Sept. 7 (Xinhua) -- Pritty Porshell is only eleven years old yet her sharp wit, confidence and ability to communicate in a coherent manner is unmatched in a China-sponsored learning facility located at the heart of the Kenyan capital of Nairobi's sprawling Mathare slums.

  The class six pupil at KEDA DBSA school that was constructed by a group of Chinese volunteers, and opened its doors to young learners in late August, aspires to pursue nursing later in life and assist her community deal with a myriad health challenges.

  During an interview with Xinhua on Friday ahead of the International Literacy Day to be marked on Saturday, Pritty said enrolling at her current school has motivated her to pursue education with unwavering passion.

  "Our school offers an ideal environment to study hard and achieve our dreams despite many setbacks that we encounter in this neighborhood," said Pritty.

  The vivacious pupil is the head of debating club in her school where she advocates for the interests of young girls in low income settings who often battle huge bottlenecks while pursuing their education.

  "I would like to see all girls from poor families enroll in school to enable them acquire skills required to overcome poverty, illiteracy and negative influences that are rampant in every informal settlement in Nairobi," Pritty said.

  The 2018 International Literacy Day whose theme is "Literacy and Skills Development" stresses the importance of acquisition of skills and competencies that children and youth require to become self-reliant in the future.

  At the learning facility constructed by Chinese volunteers affiliated with Dream Building Service Association (DBSA), the desire to overcome illiteracy among the under-privileged youngsters was profound.

  Pritty and her young peers are proud of their modern and well equipped school where they hope to realize their academic and career goals.

  Moses Nyatota, director of KEDA DBSA School that has enrolled 450 students at the primary and secondary levels, said it has opened a floodgate of opportunities to children from deprived backgrounds.

  "Majority of our students are from Mathare slums and education is a luxury to them given the alarming levels of poverty in this informal settlement," said Nyatota.

  "These young students are happy now that they have found a conducive environment to study uninterrupted and achieve their goals in life," he added.

  Chinese volunteers commenced the construction of KEDA DBSA school in May last year and completed it in August this year to pave way for enrollment of learners from financially constrained households.

  David Ochieng, a 15-year-old class eight pupil said he felt relieved once an opportunity to complete his primary school education in a modern school came knocking.

  "I love this school and we are being supported by our teachers to pursue our dreams with singular determination. We have plenty of learning materials donated by well-wishers to enable us pass examinations," said Ochieng.

  His leadership skills were recognized by KEDA DBSA school administrators who appointed him the head boy who is also in charge of the athletics team.

  Ochieng is accustomed to the abject poverty that has denied Mathare youngsters a chance to realize their dream hence his unquenchable thirst for education.

  "I would like to become teacher and if possible come back here in Mathare to mentor young children. Most of the children here are talented academically but lack a conducive environment to actualize their dreams," Ochieng remarked.

  Chinese volunteers have not only supported construction of learning facilities in Mathare slums but are also mentoring children and youth in extra-curricular activities like sports and performing arts.

  Yin Binbin, founder of DBSA, told Xinhua on the sidelines of a talent show held in Mathare on Aug. 11 that his army of Chinese volunteers has been assisting youngsters in the expansive slum discover their talent in soccer, music, dance and painting.

  Risper Mwihaki, a 16-year-old form two student at KEDA DBSA school is now able to juggle class work and sports thanks to mentorship from teachers and Chinese volunteers.

  Mwihaki is the games captain in her school and has overcome many odds to pursue high school education that is a luxury among her peers in Mathare slums.

  "I feel honored to be in a school that has given a new lease of life to girls from Mathare slums who could have otherwise regarded high school education an unattainable dream," said Mwihaki.

  The bubbly youngster whose favorite subjects are languages and humanities aspires to become an air hostess later in life.

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