When on the road to visit another school in Northern Kenya, I drove past this structure. My guide, who was familiar with the area, was not familiar with it. We stopped to ask, and were told it was a new nursery school, made possible because an NGO sponsorship allowed for a feeding program. The entire nursery school consists of this one, 3-walled, roofless stick structure.

Aside from the fact that is seems like a nursery school sprung out of a feeding program, as opposed to producing it, it does not take a protocol checklist or panel discussion to realize that the educational support this school needs is much more fundamental than books and teaching tools. How about walls? A roof? A separation between cook and teacher? There is no point talking about books when there wasn’t even 1 writing tool on the entire premise, unless you count fingers in the sand. This, by the way, is how they are learning. Although that might get points as a renewable resource, no school in Kenya should be in this state – which is more or less a lack of state.

This drove home something that had been discussed in passing before, which was, would our model alienate schools which weren’t at a requisite level of infrastructural development? While meeting needs of those in the middle, the model we are building cannot add value to schools in conditions such as this one. It intrinsically assumes a certain base level of structural and administrative ability. As a result, those schools which don’t meet this ability, already marginalized as is, are further disadvantaged.

It is clear that another model needs to be built to address this, one that truly works from the dirt ground up.