Migwani Special Needs School
new Dormitory for the Special Needs Unit is now complete!
up-to-date information visit the Migwani Childrens Dormtory
Project site HERE
to Jim and Judy Senka and their wonderful supporters!
|In our work with Kitui we have been
privileged come across many big-hearted people across the
One such person is Jim Senka, of Smithers, British
Columbia in Canada.
Jim set up The Migwani Children's
Dormitory Project to help
Child Focus Africa build a dormitory for special needs
children attending a special education unit in Migwani
Africa Inland Church (AIC)
sponsored primary school. The Patron for
the Migwani Dormitory Project is Fr Benson Kityambyu.
Dormitory will be funded entirely by Migwani Children's
Dormitory Project. While Friends of Kitui is not
directly involved in the project, we were asked by Jim to
visit the project in February 2009. What we saw there was
hugely impressive: the need is great, and we
encourage you to get involved and support this very worthy
cause.The project is a tremendous example of what can be
achieved by co-operation between the Canadian sponsors, the
local community, CFA, the local Catholic church, and the
(Top) June 2009- walls
rise from the foundations!
(Bottom) May 2009 The foundations for the new
|(Left) The banner of British
Columbia's Migwani Dormitory Project is displayed in
a classroom at the Special Needs Unit
|(Right) The children are
currently accommodated in converted classrooms. For any
child, the conditions would be very cramped. All the more
so for special needs kids.
This is an entirely voluntary effort which shares
Friends of Kitui's approach in ensuring that 100% of all
funds raised will go directly to the project without any
deduction for administration costs.
We are delighted to be able to make a small contribution
to this very worthwhile cause.
|This project is a wonderful example of
inter-denominational and non-denominational co-operation.
The Special Unit is located in Migwani AIC sponsored
Primary School. This is a non-fee-paying government school
in which the spiritual care of the students is assigned to,
or sponsored by, the African Inland Church. Students are
drawn from all denominations.
|(Left) Emmanuel Kisangau,
Development Co-Ordinator Diocese of Kitui, and (right) Emer
Torpey, Friends of Kitui, inspect the accommodation
|(Right) With the existing
classrooms and accommodation in the background, we
inspected the site for the new Dormitory. Excavation has
started for the new construction.
|| The school governing
committee similarly is made up from a cross-section of the
community, from all denominations. The Patron of the
Dormitory project is Fr Benson Kityambyu, the local
Catholic Parish Priest. Child Focus Africa occupies an
office on the grounds of the Catholic Mission in Migwani.
|The budget for the project is approximately
KSh1,218,000 (approximately €12500 or $Cn19,000)
|Emer with the School Principal
in one of the special needs unit's classrooms
(Right) Emer tells the SNU
that their phiolosophy of locating the unit alongside a
"normal" school is very advanced thinking
The Head Teacher of the
Special Unit describes the philosophy behind adding dignity
and self-reliance to the children.
AIC is the largest and oldest primary school in Migwani sub
location. It was originally established as a missionary
school by the African Inland Church. It is now a government
school, sponsored by AIC. Migwani AIC is a preferred school
by many parents because it has better than average
infrastructure, meaning fewer levies for parents. The
school has adequate classes and teachers giving it the
highest enrolment in the location.
Left: The entrance to Migwani
AIC-sponsored Primary School. The Special Needs Unit is
located in the same compound.
The management structure
of Child Focus Africa displayed on the wall of the
CFA Office, which is located in the St Patrick's Catholic
The Children perform a
special song in English for the visitors
AIC Primary- Special Education Unit
AIC Primary has a special education unit, which caters for
developmentally challenged students. The facility has 54
learners (February 2009). It is one of only three such
units in the entire district. The Migwani Special Education
Unit was established in 1988 and catered at the time for
five learners who were day scholars. In 2000, it had
fourteen learners and the school opted to turn this into a
boarding facility. One classroom was turned into the first
dormitory. Besides boarding, the students need special
care, food and clothing. The community and parents lack
orientation on the developmental needs of these challenged
children. As is common across Africa, and indeed elsewhere,
the children are isolated at home and are sometimes locked
away as they are considered a burden and a nuisance. By
boarding these children, the school constantly supervises
and trains them on how to develop and adapt to the
challenges they face.
the government realizes that education and training will
contribute to national development, the special education
unit suffers from inadequate funding and a lack of clear
policy framework. The new (2003) Free Primary Education
policy has made primary education compulsory to all school
age children, forcing the unit’s enrolment to go up. The
government however only pays for instructional materials
(IM) to facilitate classroom learning. The school relies on
the parents and well-wishers to meet the boarding and
feeding expenses. There are only a few qualified teachers
who are able to handle children with special needs while
facing a lack of teaching and learning resources, among
other challenges. In 2007, one teacher was selected for
special training on the needs of the children and is
currently in charge of the unit. The special unit charges
each parent a fee of KSH 1600 (€16) for every school
semester (three months). Though few parents can afford
this, the children are not sent home when the parents
cannot afford or are unwilling to pay.
(Left) There is a great
rapport between teachers and students
Neither the primary
school nor the Special Needs Unit
receives any external funding other than per
capita grants from the government, based on enrolment.
While the Instructional Material (IM) funds are adequate,
the General Purpose (GP) funds are not enough to pay for
monthly expenses including salaries for the non-teaching
support staff and expenses, including cooks, security men,
communication bills and emergency expenses. The overall
school enrolment figures do not include the children in the
Special Unit who pay a fee of Ksh1600 or €16 per term and
only receive support on IM. The school has reached out to
local sponsors including Christian Children’s Fund (CCF),
Child Focus Africa (CFA) and Twana Twitu to help raise
funds or support poor students. These non-governmental
agencies do not give funds direct to the school, but have
in many occasions supported individual students and
Special Needs Unit in Migwani AIC received some Community
Development Funds (CDF) funds to procure instructional
materials. There is a high cost of equipment for special
needs and it will take time to equip this unit. More
teachers need to be trained on coaching these
developmentally challenged learners. Only three
non-governmental agencies are present in Migwani and their
programmes are aimed at developing and supporting
vulnerable individuals and family. While this helps in
general, it is limited to individuals and the school
support remains at the same level, year after year.
(Left) Another view of the
site for the new Dormitory
Focus Africa and the Special Needs Dormitory Project:
Focus Africa (CFA) is a local Kenya-based NGO which
includes in its objectives the support of the Special Needs
Unit. The first project to be supported is the construction
of a dormitory for the students. The budget for this
project is approximately €13,000.
is supported in this effort by a Canadian group run by Jim
& Judy Senka. Migwani Children's Dormitory Project
(MCP), a fund-raising project based in Smithers, British
Columbia, is wholly made up of volunteers working to
provide the funds necessary to build a dormitory for
handicapped children in Migwani. As all involved in the
fundraising are volunteers the group is able to ensure that
100% of the funds raised will go directly to the building
have an office in the compound of St Patrick’s Catholic
Mission in Migwani, approximately 1km from the location of
the Special Needs Unit. The Patron of the project is Fr
Benson Kityambyu, the priest-in-charge of the mission, who
has agreed to manage the bank account for the
Benson and the Principal of the Migwani AIC Primary School,
will together ensure full accountability for funds donated
to the project. CFA does not handle any funds.
local community have raised funds for the purchase of the
site for the dormitory from the adjacent landowner. The
dormitory is located directly beside the existing special
needs unit SNU). In turn the SNU is located alongside the
Migwani AIC primary school, and the children are fully
integrated with the primary school students, sharing the
same playgrounds and other facilities.
facilities of the SNU comprise one block of four rooms,
originally intended as classrooms. Two of these rooms are
now used for sleeping accommodation. The classrooms are
small and undersized for the attendance. Facilities, while
limited, are above average for the district if judged in
the context of a normal primary school. For use as a SNU,
the facilities are totally inadequate and make no
concession to the needs of children with learning or
physical disabilities. The accommodation unit has no
electricity or lighting for night-time use. Toilet, washing
and water facilities are totally inadequate.
of the main school is used as a dining facility, and also
used for meetings and training.
The School would like
to construct another Dormitory for the Boys, and also to
construct a Workshop in which life skills could be taught
in appropriate conditions.
Right: There is full
integration between the Primary School and ther Special
to Jim and Judy and their supporters in Smithers, BC.
out more about the project HERE
out more about Child Focus Africa HERE