One of the amazing things about staying at Lewa is waking up, looking out of your bedroom window, and seeing game. This morning I was greeted by a family of warthogs in the garden and, in the distance, two elephants by the marsh.
In the morning Faith took me to see Leparua Primary School. They are asking for us to provide 2 dormitories for the boys and girls in Standard 7 and 8. Technically, students in Standard 7 and 8 should be 13 and 14 years old. However, that is assuming that students begin their schooling on time at 6 years old, and continue each year without repeating or dropping out. The reality of it is that some students are upwards of 18 years old in a primary school. Contrary from finding this depressing, I am very happy that they are making an effort to complete their primary school education. The students need as much encouragement as can be given.
When discussing the reasoning for needing dormitories at a primary school, Faith and I had a very candid conversation. In this area, boys are circumcised at 13 and 14 years old. At this stage, they become what is known as “Moran” (warrior). At the same age, girls are also circumcised. Faith explained to me that when boys become Moran, they are allowed to do ‘whatever they want’, and will often wait for the girls as they are walking home from school in the evening. Meanwhile, once girls are circumcised, they are ‘not allowed to say no’. This creates an environment where not only are the girls scared to walk home in the evenings, but the repercussions of early teenage pregnancies are detrimental to the pursuit of education. Pictured below are students in Standard 8.
The situation created by these cultural realities are primary reasons for needing boarding for the students in their final two years. At this stage, they need to be focusing on studying and preparing for the national exams they will write in Standard 8. These exams are critical in deciding where they will be accepted to secondary school, and if they will be accepted at all. These students, particularly the girls, need to be removed from the situation they are placed in that leaves them vulnerable to whim of the Moran. The need for this is expressed first and foremost by the girls themselves, but also the school staff, and some of the parents. It seems intuitive that by providing boarding their marks should be more likely to increase, but I will have to do research to find if there is any data supporting this theory.