Since January 2019, the Vocational Secondary School has been up and running on the property of the MCC. For this project, we were able to recruit the Bavarian state chancellery as a financial backer, which financed 75 percent of total building costs. Young architect Thomas Mildenberger happily volunteered his time to design five round houses that show his deep understanding of local needs and realities, and which provide enough space for either two classrooms or a combination of workshops/computer room or kitchens/teacher’s lounge.
The educational project encompasses professional training in three areas:
- a general education that includes the possibility of attaining a degree recognized by the state
- practical training at suitable jobs
- instruction in the theoretical basics of one’s chosen field of employment
A dual education at a secondary school is especially important in this region of Machakos County, since the students‘ level of knowledge at the end of primary school (eighth grade) is often not deep enough to commence vocational training. Especially because most students will only be 12 years old at that time. Many local families cannot afford to pay for a secondary education at one of the standard Kenyan boarding schools. This is why the Secondary School here at MCC will fill a big educational gap and will furthermore help students to be better prepared and thus increase opportunities for those without a college or university degree.
Given the MCC’s rural environs with its mostly family-owned agricultural lands, ecological agriculture is one intended branch of training, and this program will immediately address the local population’s needs. In addition, it will be necessary to offer education and training in agricultural marketing (esp. regarding processing of agricultural products and product development, farming cooperatives, etc.).
The second branch will include education in social services, resembling the domestic service track in our Bavarian secondary schools or the social service track in our middle schools. Here, both male and female students will acquire basic hygienic skills, gain rudimentary medical knowledge (first aid), and learn how to run a household (from shopping to preparing meals). Additional courses can be taken at the sewing machines and in the small school workshop.
Economics are the third focal point, with a special emphasis on promoting subjects such as computer science, foreign languages, and basic business knowledge. This branch is designed for female and male students who wish to attend college or university after completing grade 12.
With these dual educational offerings the young people should gain insights into possible areas of work in addition to a well-founded school education, they learn to work in a practical way and to be able to make decisions about their further vocational training. Many of them will take up a profession after secondary school without further special training. They in particular benefit greatly from the practical training component, from the contacts and from the experience they gain during their internships. In this way, we are trying to work against the negative cycle of poor school education, lack of vocational training, youth unemployment and migration to the slums of Nairobi. The young people should be offered a way to earn their own living in their rural environment and usually even on their own land.
Since 2020, construction has been underway on the opposite property at the associated boarding school buildings. Thanks to the financial support of Sternstunden e.V. and the Rotary Club Munich-Hofgarten, the first half of the boarding school building was completed in time for the start of school in January 2021 and the young people were allowed to move from the makeshift accommodation of the classrooms to their 6-bed rooms in the new boarding school wing. Ein Herz für Kinder has already financed the sanitary buildings and electricity supply. In March 2022, we received the incredible news that Sternstunden e.V. will also finance the construction of the remaining boarding school buildings with a large sum, so that around 180 students will have a place to sleep, study and leisure activities available from January 2023.