Strathmore University established Community Outreach Programme (COP) in 1994 to look at how it might assist the local community around it. Strathmore University is located next to one of Africa’s largest slum, Kibera in Nairobi. In 2007 COP began a project with one of its partners to offer high school scholarships to a community school in Kibera slum. The main objective was to increase the completion rate of secondary school students in the slum. However, after running this scheme for five years COP noticed that very few students proceeded to tertiary education. Only 8.8% of students attained third level education.
Poor transition rate can be attributed to several economic and social factors the students find in the slum. Some of the reasons found are insufficient learning materials, overcrowded classrooms, malnutrition, poverty, poor health, negative peer pressure and a limited learning experience all prevalent in Kibera slum. Many of the youth in the slum face these difficulties which results in diminishing opportunities to continue their education to tertiary institutions regardless of their zeal.
Macheo Achievement Programme, an initiative of COP began in February 2012 to help these students from troubled neighborhoods navigate through school life to emerge stronger and well equipped for life. Macheo, meaning sunrise in Swahili is an After-School-educational support Programme. Macheo organizes After-School & Holiday Programs which provide academic tutoring, personal mentoring and character development for High School students. The students are drawn from three secondary schools in Kibera namely; John Paul II Secondary School, Glory Secondary School and New Horizon Secondary School. Strathmore University students are the tutors and mentors of these students.
Macheo has completed three academic years since inception from February 2012 academic year February-8December 2012 in its pilot stage. The pilot stage will last three years to allow the first students of Macheo complete high school and graduate. In this stage Macheo enrolls 25 students annually in their second year of secondary, i.e. Form II and maintains 50:50 gender balance. Currently the project is in its third year and there are 75 students in Macheo.
Macheo educates and empowers secondary students from the most disadvantaged neighborhoods in Kenya through means of academic, cultural and personal development and instruction. It simultaneously enriches the university lives of Strathmore students through the opportunity to mentor and tutor, forging a bond between Kenya’s top academic minds and Nairobi’s most underserved youth. Macheo recognizes the holistic nature of personal development and seeks to foster both moral and intellectual growth in young people, building men and women of character and integrity.
Macheo has five core aims:
- Reduce secondary school dropout cases
- Improve academic performance of the secondary students in the program
- Ensure transition of the students to the next class in high school
- Achieve secondary school graduation into university/college/vocational school or talent school
- Character education
Students are tutored once a week, in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Saturdays of every month. Tutoring sessions concentrate mainly on the following subjects: Mathematics, English, Biology, Chemistry and Physics. The sessions are held in Strathmore University lecture halls which are a 30 minute walk from Kibera.
Strathmore University students receive their own tutoring from various lecturers who have teaching experience with secondary students. The tutors are taken through key areas in the subjects they teach to ensure they instruct their mentees appropriately.
After every Macheo session a follow up quiz based on the subject taught is given to the mentees to gauge how well they have understood the content taught. In addition to the quiz, the mentees are given assignments to work on during the week to make certain they remain focused on their tutoring. These assignments are reviewed in the next Macheo session.
The remedial classes help the students understand the content of the subjects better. Macheo also provides text books which these students would otherwise have no access to, to help them study better. It is the hope of the tutors that the tutoring will lead to higher education and employment and stability for their mentees.
Character Development and Mentoring
Macheo promotes character development of its students through talks given at the beginning of every session. These talks provide them with a good understanding of social and moral virtues. Macheo promotes the development of its students into young men and women of upright character, conduct and high ideals such as service, generosity, commitment, truth, courage and responsibility.
Among the character talk topics we have had in the past sessions are cheerfulness, honesty, friendship, loyalty, enthusiasm, hard work, industriousness, time management, respecting authority, respecting others, courage, perseverance, discipline, self-control, responsible friendships among other topics.
Macheo mentor-mentee relationship has transformed the lives of the secondary students’ not through spectacular measures but through small repeated acts of instruction, guidance and encouragement from the mentors and tutors enriching their lives and forging
a bond between Kenya’s top academic minds and Nairobi’s most under served youth.
The mentoring sessions aim at forging good attitudes towards learning, provide good role models for the mentees and to assist them to develop good study habits. The character development equips the secondary students with the necessary skills to adapt and deal with the challenges of living in the slum given its difficult environment.
Each mentor is assigned between 1 and 4 mentees whom he/ she talks to on a one-on-one basis after each Macheo session. Male students are paired with male mentors while female students are assigned to female mentors. Peer mentoring is effective with young people who easily identify with each other and hence aid each other to go through their
youth years responsibly.
To enhance personal growth, Macheo includes sports and field trips as part of its activities. These activities are coordinated by the mentors. On the third Saturday of the month Macheo students go on an educational trip or participate in a social community development project as part of their excursion. The second Saturday after class the students engage in a sporting activity in the Strathmore University sports ground.
“I enjoy coming to Strathmore University for Macheo and especially when we are going out for a trip or we have sports in the evening. We don’t have a field in our school or in the neighborhood and we are unable to play football as much as we would like. Strathmore has such a big field that we usually hold two matches, boys and girls at the same time!” said a form II Macheo mentee from John Paul II Secondary school.
During these sessions, mentees acquire new skills such as teamwork and the importance of working together to achieve a common goal. These sessions also assist the mentor and mentee to know each other better outside the class and a relationship develops. This relationship gives confidence to the mentees that someone understands them therefore talk to their mentor confidently about personal issues they may be facing.
Back in their schools the girls do not really engage in any sporting activity and consequently they did not really play any sports in Macheo. Currently there is an effort to get the girls to be more engaged in the sporting activities as they tend to shy away from such activities.
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