COMPREHENSIVE REPORT TO ALL WELWISHERS.
AH-GAH-PAY MERCY CHILDREN’S CENTER –GATANGA-KENYA
A.M.C.C was initiated due to the hard stricken social-economic status of the community as a result of HIV/AIDS pandemic, poverty, illiteracy and unemployment. HIV/AIDS is a deadly pandemic occurring in every village in Kenya. It has caused over 3million children to be orphaned. About 800 Kenyans die daily from AIDS and Government statistics agree that out of the 40 Million Kenyans over 3.5 million are infected and others are affected either directly or indirectly.
Recurring drought within Kenya,& the resulting famine is devastating to the most vulnerable including orphans, at-risk children, pregnant women and the elderly.
The responsibility of providing the rights of the children has become a tremendous burden to many guardians. Many Children whose parents die of HIV/AIDS and other causes like road accidents, other diseases etc lack the basic necessities and are deprived of their God given rights. Most people who die of HIV/AIDS are the working age who leaves their families impoverished. The traditional extended family care structures are over-burdened.
The Children’s management under their ailing, poor, illiterate and elderly grandparents or widowers or widows is poor, sometimes going for several days without a meal and without hope for the future. These factors lead to many children dropping out of school to seek for food, head their families, turn to child labor, commercial sex, drug trafficking, sniffing glue and street life, begging and pick-pocketing. Due to this and many other factors, Ah-Gah-Pay Mercy Children’s CBO, which is a registered non-profit making Community Based Organization, initiated AH-GAH-PAY MERCY CHILDREN’S CENTRE project with a long term vision of providing education all through to the university or vocational levels to as many children as it can, by lobbying for donor support while at the same time providing other basic rights and building a school and a home for them.
PROGRAMS NEEDED TO HELP HIV/AIDS ORPHANS OVERCOME CYCLE OF POVERTY.
The declaration of AIDS as a national disaster marked a turning point in war against the disease in Kenya. The country had at last woken up to the impact of the scourge. However sir, more still needs to be done to help orphans and their guardians overcome poverty. The disease remains one of the biggest catastrophes to have hit humankind in the last three decades. Sub-Saharan Kenya has been hardest hit with over 1,000 aids patients said to be dying daily. Many districts in Kenya have a prevalence rate of between 10 and 12 per cent, and the pinch of the impact of the disease is felt in all the sectors of the countries’ economies.
In these districts, the pandemic has impacted heavily on orphans and their guardians. With infection rates going up and more people succumbing to the disease, the number of aids orphans & at-risk children has been on the rise. The sad reality is that the majority of those who die from the disease are young and energetic workers who are also the breadwinners of the families and when they die, the job of providing for the families is left to children, some in their teenage years. The disease has also impacted negatively on orphans and guardians as regards access to education and basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter. It has also exposed them to the vicious cycle of poverty.
Access to education will remain a mirage to most of these children. Even though the country aspires to have education for all by 2015, for orphans and at-risk children this might be a pipe dream. Since most are left under the care of old and poor guardians struggling to make ends meet, providing basic needs like school uniform and food is a difficult task. Moreover, stigma & shame has remained a constant companion to orphans. Most have to seek refuge in children’s homes while the lucky few who get guardians may face other life challenges. For some, engaging in menial work for upkeep is a daily routine. Such children end up being exploited economically, physically, morally and sometimes spiritually. Although there is legislation covering them for example the children’s act, such laws are being flouted with impunity and those apprehended often go scot-free for luck of evidence. In addition, education achievements are rare among those who get a chance to go to school. Due to poverty, stigma and psychological imbalances, such children fail to achieve their academic goals and realize their full potential in life.
Although the current government has introduced free and compulsory primary education, orphaned and at-risk children are at a disadvantage due to these factors. On the other hand guardians who take care of these children suffer the hassles of fending for them from meager resources. This compounds the effects of old age and some end up dying early from stress and other related complications.
When you ask orphans and at-risk children what they want most, the resounding answer is education and when you ask them what they specifically want to be when they grow up they talk of big dreams like Doctors, Lawyers, pilots, Engineers, nurses, judges, Presidents, Bishops, Teachers etc.
The Kenyan government implemented free primary education for all children in year 2003 resulting in the enrollment of 1.5million children who previously
did not attend school. As a result of this free education initiative, schools are facing congestion in classrooms with some single classrooms accommodating 90 pupils in density populated areas, lack of sufficiently trained teachers and inadequate training material ,resulting to poor classroom performance & national exams.
AMCC education programm strives to create an environment conducive to the increased participation of children in school and improved classroom & national exams performance. Programs facilitate education by providing direct support with accommodation, education, feeding, shelter, medical-care, school fees, school uniform, shoes etc for the orphans and at-risk children.
NURSERY SCHOOLS THREATENED.
The introduction of Free primary schools education (FPE) is killing nursery schools. Lack of adequate government support has made pre-school classes a luxury reserved for children from middle & upper class families. Parents are reluctant to take their children to ECD centres while others withdrew them when the FPE was introduced in 2003.Parents want the nursery education made free. Many parents refuse to pay pre-school fees and instead choose to keep their children home until they attain the primary entry age, arguing that pre-school should be free as in the case with FPE .This new trend tend to compromise education standards in public schools as many pupils moving directly from home to primary schools are not ready for the formal education system. These children move directly from home to class one with no readiness for primary education where they will eventually face an uneven playing field in the country’s formal education system. This has negatively affected the performance of the children in national examinations.
Low access to ECDs arises from four factors:
1. Low public funding of the sub-sector,
2. Low awareness levels and,
3. The fact that pre-school is not a pre-requisite for admission into primary schools.
4. Lack of qualified personnel.
Governments budgetary allocations to the development of ECD education has remained significantly low with emphasis being laid on primary and higher education.
Despite the importance of pre-school education as a foundation for the country’s formal education, the ministry of education spends less than one per cent (1%) of it’s budget on this sub-sector .This implies that the government does not apply equal importance to it as it does to other level of education. Due to lack of structured salaries by the government, many teachers has opted to seek employment in private ECD Centres
That’s why AMCC has focused her programs from pre-school education through the university or vocational levels putting same emphasis on all the levels of education.
Education is essential to a child’s success. It is the only true lasting hope for change. Without it the future Leaders, Doctors, Lawyers, Teachers and Pillars of the Nations will be left to lead the lifes their families has been destined to for countless generations.
The public primary school programs became unworkable , undesirable & tiresome due to overcrowding with some single classes holding over 90 pupils, with teachers teaching a 35 minutes lesson and a minimum of 7 lessons a day & 38 lessons in a five days week, resulting to teachers telling pupils to exchange assignments to mark for themselves.
In the 1990’s the pupils were overburdened with 11 subjects and they lost the desire to learn, The other factor is that the upgrading of some teachers from grade P1 to grade approved Teachers status 1 (ATS1) through corruption destroyed the teachers attitude due to a great salary gap difference. All these factors have affected the performance of pupils in the class 8 national exams. As they graduate from class eight most are but mere handouts, which discouraged all others down the line and they became lazy with no interest to study. This affects mostly the orphans and at-risk children because those parents and guardians who are well-up employs part-time teachers to teach their children in the evening, holidays and weekends or take them to the high cost private academies of which the orphans and at-risk children cannot afford.
AMCC programs include primary education activities to help the children prepare for high school education so that they can become achievers and succeed in life.
AMCC faces a lot of great challenges in reaching the orphans and at-risk children. For those past school going age, AMCC provides literacy classes programs for them to learn and read. Then provides non-formal education opportunities that suits the needs of children e.g. carpentry, masonry, wielding, knitting, tailoring etc.
EDUCATING GIRL CHILD
As the saying goes educating a girl is educating a nation, educating girls is a key aspect in the AMCCA Program. Educational programs help girls learn to read, learn a trade and to make decisions for themselves.
Please if you would like to help sign up the contact information form and the response form attached here below and send it either by email or postal address to us, to help AMCC in her mission to transform the lives of orphans and at-risk children.
The children who endure to class eight 90% won’t be admitted into high/secondary school due to poverty and those who get vacancies into form1 about 68% drop out due to high charges of school fees.
Most of the children who endure to class eight never join secondary school due to high levies. These levies also lead to a high drop-out rate in secondary schools. In year 2007, 60,000 students who had been admitted to public secondary schools this year failed to report because their parents and guardians could not afford the fees.
The levies paid by the guardians/parents include motivation, transport and PTA charges. The motivation fee is used to pay teachers for helping their students achieve good grades in National examinations while transport fees are used to fund school trips. The PTA fees are used to pay for the activities of the Parents-Teachers Association.
The charges contribute to smooth running of schools. Head teachers resist any move to scrap them unless they are given alternatives. Other charges include levies for constructing swimming pools, buying school buses, hosting of annual general meetings and sometimes the head teachers dictate how much money parents should give their children for pocket money.
The little success, achieved through free primary education is frustrated because many of the beneficiaries cannot progress to secondary due to prohibitive school fees. It is disheartening that only 32% of children who should be in secondary school here in Kenya are benefiting from secondary education despite the governments effort to waive the tuition fees. Secondary education in Kenya is among the most expensive in the region. About 55% of family’s incomes are gobbled up by direct cost through buying uniforms and textbooks. Even the waiver by the government of tuition fees from January 2008 would have little effect because the managers are unwilling to seek ways to bring down their schools expenditures.
Due to high drop out rates and low academic i.e. performance, University education enrollment remains below 15%. Those who graduate from high school need at least an average “B” to be admitted in a university. Poor school performance by the rural children and lack of funds for education prevent many children especially the orphans, at-risk children and due to poverty from continuing their studies to universities. The average cost of a year of university in Kenya is US$2.069 which is out of reach for most people.
Recognizing some of the struggles faced by orphans and at-risk children in the desire for education AMCCA has implemented programs to promote education by lobbying for their donor support for their education through university or vocational levels.
There is a crisis in expanding access to university education. Since 2001, the number of students admitted annually to public universities has stagnated at 10,000 despite a steady rise in the number of students qualifying with the minimum aggregate grade of C+(plus)
BIAS IN UNIVERSITY FUNDING
Only 2.9% of people who should be in university are benefiting from university education. The current university admission criteria are discriminative because it favors students from well-endowed schools.
The system of government funded students in public universities and the classification of students into regular and parallel programs is biased. The regular students are those selected by the joint Admission Board of all Public universities. They are funded by the government and have access to loans from the Higher Education Loans Board but the parallel students apply to the university as private entities, paying hundreds of thousands of Kenya shillings and have no access to loans from the Higher Education Loans Board.
Unless the government changes the admission criteria to one of the quota system whereby the government would work out the number of students it wants to sponsor from every district of who should be top performer so as to open doors for all the others who have qualified to join universities and be fully funded by the government, then university education in Kenya would remain out of reach by the majority as it is too expensive.
It is out of this realization that our mission and vision was born.
Sponsoring HIV/AIDS infected and affected Orphans & Vulnerable Children attain quality education to university/Vocational levels & to support windows and widowers living with Hiv/Aids.
Transforming HIV/AIDS infected & affected Orphans, Vulnerable Children, widows and widowers to become achievers and agents of change in Society
An educated child is an empowered child
Right now we are hosting 41 children but in our waiting list we have five hundred (500) if we have resources we can admit all of them.