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How partnerships enriched the learning for Nairobi slum children

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Eight years of research in low-income neighbourhoods of Nairobi have opened my eyes to the significant role of school, family and community partnerships. Not only are they crucial for student achievement, they can narrow the performance gap between children in high and low income settings.

My work in Nairobi confirms findings from research that stretches back over two decades in different contexts. For instance, renowned Harvard social analyst Lisbeth Schorr observed in her book that social programmes taken to scale resulted in the transformation of poor neighbourhoods and communities.

The positive results suggest that a host of positive outcomes can be achieved when communities partner with schools.

My research showed that forging a partnership between family, community and school enables parents to take part in the academic success of their children. Parents acquire knowledge, skills and confidence for better parenting. This in turn enables them to improve their economic lot and become better citizens.

The three-way partnerships also contribute to social capital. Social capital refers to relationships among and between different actors for the purpose of achieving a common good. Therefore, the partnership between family, community and schools improves the interconnections between the institutions. This in turn enriches the relationships between parents and their children for academic success.

Schools can also draw on resources external to them – the families and the community – to bridge any challenges they may face in the way of the children’s education.

As a result, parents are thrust to the centre of this relationship as a resource for the improvement of their children and the schools. Parents cease to be distant observers who are far removed from the education of their children. Families can draw from these new networks to enable their children to succeed in school.

My work over the past three years revolved around the practical application of this paradigm shift in two informal settlements in Nairobi under the “Improving Learning Outcomes” project. The two relatively poor urban settlements of Korogocho and Viwandani had poor learning outcomes at primary school level and low transition to secondary school.

A 2010 study in Nairobi put the transition rate from primary to secondary school in slum schools at 46%. The primary school completion among slum children stood at 76%. The transition rate compared poorly to the non-slum at an average of 72% transition and while 92% had completed primary school. Despite the introduction of free day secondary education in 2008 which was supposed to reduce the cost of schooling for low income groups, 27% of pupils still don’t make the transition to secondary school.

Understanding the reasons for this and designing interventions was a major part of our project.

Parental involvement

The positive association between the involvement of parents and student achievement has consistently been documented by scholars for some time now. Parental involvement includes communication with teachers and others working in a school, helping with school work at home and volunteering at school. Attending school events, such as parent-teacher meetings and conferences is also important.

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Children of actively involved parents perform better in school, learn better and have stronger problem solving skills. They also attend school regularly, enjoy their schooling, and have fewer behavioural problems.

The main interventions during our research in Nairobi included:

  • after school support with homework and mentoring in life skills,

  • counselling for parents on active involvement in their children’s schooling, including support with homework. They were encouraged to limit household chores and educated on child labour,

  • secondary school transition subsidies. This was a transition from primary to secondary school, and

  • mentoring of students in leadership, a component that we added in the expansion phase.

We worked with community leaders to encourage a closer working relationship between the community, parents and the school. For instance, the community leaders encouraged parents to support their children’s education, particularly girls. This included encouraging a working relationship between girls their parents and teachers.

Parents believed that interacting with teachers was important because it helped reduce the probability of children becoming truant. They also counted on interaction with teachers to reduce instances of peer pressure.

The community leaders support for girls’ education persisted over the course of our three year work. This was particularly evident in their support to the parental component of the intervention. The community, built a supportive relationship on education and understanding the social change and peer pressure faced by the youth.

The result was improved learning outcomes, particularly in numeracy where girls recorded a 20 percentage point improvement in scores. There is also evidence that girls who participated in the programme had higher educational aspirations, with a substantial proportion of girls whose highest education aspiration was completing secondary school aspiring to acquire university education.

Transition to secondary school rates in Korogocho and Viwandani among the 2013 cohort of girls who participated in the project stood at 68%. This was a 22% improvement over the 2010 statistic of 46% (both girls and boys). Although the rate was still lower than the national average in 2010 by 9 percentage points, it represented a much reduced gap between urban slum children and the national average.

Among those girls who made a transition to secondary school in 2014, three girls joined prestigious girls’ national schools. National schools are the best-resourced and admit the highest performing students from across all counties in Kenya.

In 2015, three girls from Korogocho who qualified for the subsidy to join secondary also went on to qualify for a prestigious scholarship programme which targets gifted but economically and socially marginalised students.

Our findings show that the education outcomes of young people can be improved with targeted interventions. At the centre lies the participation of partners – community, family and schools.

Benta A. Abuya, Research Scientist, African Population and Health Research Center

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Sordid tale of the bank ‘that would bribe God’

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Bank of Credit and Commerce International. August 1991. [File, Standard]

“This bank would bribe God.” These words of a former employee of the disgraced Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) sum up one of the most rotten global financial institutions.
BCCI pitched itself as a top bank for the Third World, but its spectacular collapse would reveal a web of transnational corruption and a playground for dictators, drug lords and terrorists.
It was one of the largest banks cutting across 69 countries and its aftermath would cause despair to innocent depositors, including Kenyans.
BCCI, which had $20 billion (Sh2.1 trillion in today’s exchange rate) assets globally, was revealed to have lost more than its entire capital.
The bank was founded in 1972 by the crafty Pakistani banker Agha Hasan Abedi.
He was loved in his homeland for his charitable acts but would go on to break every rule known to God and man.
In 1991, the Bank of England (BoE) froze its assets, citing large-scale fraud running for several years. This would see the bank cease operations in multiple countries. The Luxembourg-based BCCI was 77 per cent owned by the Gulf Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  
BoE investigations had unearthed laundering of drugs money, terrorism financing and the bank boasted of having high-profile customers such as Panama’s former strongman Manual Noriega as customers.
The Standard, quoting “highly placed” sources reported that Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Zayed Sultan would act as guarantor to protect the savings of Kenyan depositors.
The bank had five branches countrywide and panic had gripped depositors on the state of their money.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) would then move to appoint a manager to oversee the operations of the BCCI operations in Kenya.
It sent statements assuring depositors that their money was safe.
The Standard reported that the Sheikh would be approaching the Kenyan and other regional subsidiaries of the bank to urge them to maintain operations and assure them of his personal support.
It was said that contact between CBK and Abu Dhabi was “likely.”
This came as the British Ambassador to the UAE Graham Burton implored the gulf state to help compensate Britons, and the Indian government also took similar steps.
The collapse of BCCI was, however, not expect to badly hit the Kenyan banking system. This was during the sleazy 1990s when Kenya’s banking system was badly tested. It was the era of high graft and “political banks,” where the institutions fraudulently lent to firms belonging or connected to politicians, who were sometimes also shareholders.
And even though the impact was expected to be minimal, it was projected that a significant number of depositors would transfer funds from Asian and Arab banks to other local institutions.
“Confidence in Arab banking has taken a serious knock,” the “highly placed” source told The Standard.
BCCI didn’t go down without a fight. It accused the British government of a conspiracy to bring down the Pakistani-run bank.  The Sheikh was said to be furious and would later engage in a protracted legal battle with the British.
“It looks to us like a Western plot to eliminate a successful Muslim-run Third World Bank. We know that it often acted unethically. But that is no excuse for putting it out of business, especially as the Sultan of Abu Dhabi had agreed to a restructuring plan,” said a spokesperson for British Asians.
A CBK statement signed by then-Deputy Governor Wanjohi Murithi said it was keenly monitoring affairs of the mother bank and would go to lengths to protect Kenyan depositors.
“In this respect, the CBK has sought and obtained the assurance of the branch’s management that the interests of depositors are not put at risk by the difficulties facing the parent company and that the bank will meet any withdrawal instructions by depositors in the normal course of business,” said Mr Murithi.
CBK added that it had maintained surveillance of the local branch and was satisfied with its solvency and liquidity.
This was meant to stop Kenyans from making panic withdrawals.
For instance, armed policemen would be deployed at the bank’s Nairobi branch on Koinange Street after the bank had announced it would shut its Kenyan operations.
In Britain, thousands of businesses owned by British Asians were on the verge of financial ruin following the closure of BCCI.
Their firms held almost half of the 120,000 bank accounts registered with BCCI in Britain. 
The African Development Bank was also not spared from this mess, with the bulk of its funds deposited and BCCI and stood to lose every coin.
Criminal culture
In Britain, local authorities from Scotland to the Channel Islands are said to have lost over £100 million (Sh15.2 billion in today’s exchange rate).
The biggest puzzle remained how BCCI was allowed by BoE and other monetary regulation authorities globally to reach such levels of fraudulence.
This was despite the bank being under tight watch owing to the conviction of some of its executives on narcotics laundering charges in the US.
Coast politician, the late Shariff Nassir, would claim that five primary schools in Mombasa lost nearly Sh1 million and appealed to then Education Minister George Saitoti to help recover the savings. Then BoE Governor Robin Leigh-Pemberton condemned it as so deeply immersed in fraud that rescue or recovery – at least in Britain – was out of the question.
“The culture of the bank is criminal,” he said. The bank was revealed to have targeted the Third World and had created several “institutional devices” to promote its operations in developing countries.
These included the Third World Foundation for Social and Economic Studies, a British-registered charity.
“It allowed it to cultivate high-level contacts among international statesmen,” reported The Observer, a British newspaper.
BCCI also arranged an annual Third World lecture and a Third World prize endowment fund of about $10 million (Sh1 billion in today’s exchange rate).
Winners of the annual prize had included Nelson Mandela (1985), sir Bob Geldof (1986) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1989).
[email protected]    

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Monitor water pumps remotely via your phone

Tracking and monitoring motor vehicles is not new to Kenyans. Competition to install affordable tracking devices is fierce but essential for fleet managers who receive reports online and track vehicles from the comfort of their desk.

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Agricultural Development Corporation Chief Accountant Gerald Karuga on the Spot Over Fraud –

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Gerald Karuga, the acting chief accountant at the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC), is on the spot over fraud in land dealings.

ADC was established in 1965 through an Act of Parliament Cap 346 to facilitate the land transfer programme from European settlers to locals after Kenya gained independence.

Karuga is under fire for allegedly aiding a former powerful permanent secretary in the KANU era Benjamin Kipkulei to deprive ADC beneficiaries of their land in Naivasha.

Kahawa Tungu understands that the aggrieved parties continue to protest the injustice and are now asking the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe Karuga.

A source who spoke to Weekly Citizen publication revealed that Managing Director Mohammed Dulle is also involved in the mess at ADC.

Read: Ministry of Agriculture Apologizes After Sending Out Tweets Portraying the President in bad light

Dulle is accused of sidelining a section of staffers in the parastatal.

The sources at ADC intimated that Karuga has been placed strategically at ADC to safeguard interests of many people who acquired the corporations’ land as “donations” from former President Daniel Arap Moi.

Despite working at ADC for many years Karuga has never been transferred, a trend that has raised eyebrows.

“Karuga has worked here for more than 30 years and unlike other senior officers in other parastatals who are transferred after promotion or moved to different ministries, for him, he has stuck here for all these years and we highly suspect that he is aiding people who were dished out with big chunks of land belonging to the corporation in different parts of the country,” said the source.

In the case of Karuga safeguarding Kipkulei’s interests, workers at the parastatals and the victims who claim to have lost their land in Naivasha revealed that during the Moi regime some senior officials used dubious means to register people as beneficiaries of land without their knowledge and later on colluded with rogue land officials at the Ministry of Lands to acquire title deeds in their names instead of those of the benefactors.

Read Also: Galana Kulalu Irrigation Scheme To Undergo Viability Test Before Being Privatised

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“We have information that Karuga has benefitted much from Kipkulei through helping him and this can be proved by the fact that since the matter of the Naivasha land began, he has been seen changing and buying high-end vehicles that many people of his rank in government can’t afford to buy or maintain,” the source added.

“He is even building a big apartment for rent in Ruiru town.”

The wealthy officer is valued at over Sh1.5 billion in prime properties and real estate.

Last month, more than 100 squatters caused scenes in Naivasha after raiding a private firm owned by Kipkulei.

The squatters, who claimed to have lived on the land for more than 40 years, were protesting take over of the land by a private developer who had allegedly bought the land from the former PS.

They pulled down a three-kilometre fence that the private developed had erected.

The squatters claimed that the former PS had not informed them that he had sold the land and that the developer was spraying harmful chemicals on the grass affecting their livestock and homes built on a section of the land.

Read Also: DP Ruto Wants NCPB And Other Agricultural Bodies Merged For Efficiency

Naivasha Deputy County Commissioner Kisilu Mutua later issued a statement warning the squatters against encroaching on Kipkuleir’s land.

“They are illegally invading private land. We shall not allow the rule of the jungle to take root,” warned Mutua.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee recently demanded to know identities of 10 faceless people who grabbed 30,350 acres of land belonging to the parastatal, exposing the rot at the corporation.

ADC Chairman Nick Salat, who doubles up as the KANU party Secretary-General, denied knowledge of the individuals and has asked DCI to probe the matter.

Email your news TIPS to [email protected] or WhatsApp +254708677607. You can also find us on Telegram through www.t.me/kahawatungu

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William Ruto eyes Raila Odinga Nyanza backyard

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Deputy President William Ruto will next month take his ‘hustler nation’ campaigns to his main rival, ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard, in an escalation of the 2022 General Election competition.

Acrimonious fall-out

Development agenda

Won’t bear fruit

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