In 2016, a multi-group Kindergarten for children between the ages of 2 ½ und 6 opened on the MCC’s campus. The youngest children (2 1/2 to 3 years of age) receive care in the “play-group,” while the 4-year olds attend “pre-primary 1.” And preschoolers attend “pre-primary 2.” Teacher Fridah and Teacher Marcline take care of all 42 currently enrolled children, who the MCC’s school bus collects from the greater Nguluni community at various collection points every morning. They spend the entire day in the kindergarten, until 4 p.m. Parents pay a monthly tuition fee equivalent to Euro 10.00 for full-day care, which includes food and transportation.
In contrast to our system of care and schooling here in Germany, children in Kenya are expected to complete educational requirements at kindergarten age already. Children as young as 3 are already diligently juggling letters and numbers. Benches and chairs as well as pen and paper are therefore part and parcel of the kindergarten routine, in addition to singing, dancing, and unstructured playtime on our ample MCC grounds.
In order to render the schooling-intensive Kenyan concept of kindergarten a little more attractive for the little ones, in April 2019 some of our active members flew to Kenya with eight suitcases full of games and educational materials in tow. Within a few days, they had converted one of the rooms into a colorful playtime oasis and erected shelves for storing Montessori-designed crafts, games, and educational materials.
Hands-on demonstrations showed the teachers how to best use the imported materials, and they learned by way of a few concrete examples the ways in which these Montessori materials can enable children to literally grasp numbers and letters: a stimulus from Germany, an attempt to impart to the children more self-determination and more joy for play and learning.
The local team as well as the children proved enthusiastic and open to the new concept. Now we have to wait and see whether our visit had a lasting effect.