Alfred’s story: a child’s right to education
Alfred is a parent and teacher at the African Internal Church Academy in Kabartonjo, Kenya. Below, Alfred speaks about how the brand new books that the school has received through the Inspiring Readers programme have impacted lives.
I am Alfred and I am a teacher and also a parent to children in the school. We live in the village and we have a small farm where we keep some dairy animals to get some milk. I also grow maise, beans and food for my family. For me, the farm is something on the side to supplement, but by profession I am a teacher.
My wife is a farmer. She is also a seller, she makes kinds of small businesses, she keeps us going.
If want to buy books, I first see how my pocket is, because there I can see whether I have enough money. I may be forced to sacrifice some other interests to buy books because I know the value of books towards education for the children. When the money is very little I sell an animal so that I can get a little money.
That’s why it’s important that the children have the books provided. Books are very important, they are preparing these children. It comes after the teacher – the teacher teaches in the classroom, that is the first priority, then we must supplement with books so the child will have books to read even at home, even without the teacher.
Since the children started having new books at school, I can say we are very happy. Those books have changed their lives. We have seen that they are changing their reading speed and have developed their own way of reading.
We don’t force them, neither do we supervise them. We just tell them the books are there and they are doing it themselves. They have developed some kind of reading culture amongst themselves. They have begun learning to speak English, which is good. We are very happy, and even the other parents are happy. You find the children reading themselves in the classroom, so they enjoy reading.
The children when they come home, they immediately ask for just a small snack, and then they introduce us to the new books that they have learned in school. They tell us ‘Ok, mum, dad, this is what we have learned at school’.
If there was a story of the book they had that day, they would try to narrate it, to give us the story of certain animals that are in the books, for example the elephant, the hyena, the lion. They’ll tell us those stories. And we also enjoy it because they make the stories at home fun!
Then they quickly remove the book from their bag and they tell us ‘This is what the teacher has given me. Today I read it and tomorrow I return it back to school.’ So we really enjoy it. We find that they can learn something good at school, and it’s because of the books they have got there.
I also feel proud when I see other parents and tell them ‘Ok, our school is doing very well, our children are doing very well.’
Education expands the knowledge, it opens up the mind of the people, it enables people to think so they can become creative, they acquire the skills of how to do things. Then from there, they can look for what can enable them to provide enough food for their family.
The challenge many people are having is providing food here. The other one is finance, because in many cases people may lack employment. Even after completion of university, where the parent has used a lot of money, has sold the animals, has sold the farm, has sold everything, the boy or the girl who has come out of university has nothing at home to come up in terms of economy. There is nothing in the house and they have no employment… so that is the most challenging.
But if there were employment, people could be self-sufficient, they would have enough money, they would be able to settle very fast and do a lot of things and get enough money to also educate their brothers and sisters before they marry.
A child must get an education, everybody should be educated, even that mother or that father who is at home should get an education.
We pray that we have enough resources to educate our children. We really want them to get enough education and the best education is through books. There is nothing in the world that can give enough education apart from reading. Even the teacher gets the information from the books.
Books must be made available in schools. Once you can read you can go to websites, read from all places, even magazines, everywhere!
You can see from the cupboard libraries here that the children are reading very well. Maybe you can plan on adding some more different authors because they have almost completed them, and they require some more.
Without books, I think it would be a very big disaster. They would not feel very comfortable in school and in the evening life would not be very good at home! They would not be happy, and I would not be happy either!
We just request you continue helping us by kindly provide some more materials to give to our school.
With thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery for funding Inspiring Readers in Keyna.