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Expectations high in Kibra as World Bank visits

Learners, teachers, and community expectations are high at Olympic Primary School in Kibra, East and Central Africa’s second largest slum, after it played host to a World Bank delegation, led by its Vice President, Mamta Murthi and Ministry of Education Officials in Kenya.

“We were told to dress well and be on our best behaviour, as we’ll be expecting great company of high-level visitors.” Little Jane Marima, a learner at Olympic Primary School innocently confided to this writer.

Welcome to our school Madam Vice President, confidently conveyed Marima to the very important visitor, as she presented a bouquet of beautifully wrapped tulip flowers, perfectly fit for the World Bank leader.

Memorizing the official welcoming remark Phrase was a special memorable verse and speech prepared by the girl for the big-day that sent chills down her spine overnight, before the day of the visitors.

Excited for the opportunity, Marima is optimistic the visitors will come with goodies just as any other child her age would expect.

The Institution was electric with a phenomenal new look and calm. Thorough general cleaning had preceded the school to standards short of a palace. The major facelift of the ever-spotty compound, space, walls, and ceilings typical of any primary school with a mixture of learners from different age groups but with a common denominator, the slum environment.

“We should frequently host such visitors,” rhetorically remarked, Mr Silas Okumu, the Principal of Olympic Primary School, while complimenting the joint efforts of teachers, learners, and other school staff on the environmental overhaul.

Learner Jane Marima confided to the writer that her innocence would not betray her than confess the sins of her mentors- an official secret about dressing well and being in the best of discipline replicated by the entire school fraternity of over 5,000 students.

Arrival at Olympic Primary and Junior School-inspection of a guard of honour-Tree Planting-signing the visitors’ book tour of the school and short meeting with the children’s government, read half the program of activities for Thursday 8th February 2024.

There are two female presidents for both Olympic Primary School and Junior School. The two young dashing girls practically lead in an institution where boys are more in numbers.

This is the most populous Primary School in the city of Nairobi Kenya, with a total of five thousand and ninety-one learners.

According to the school Principal, Mr. Silas Okumu, the numbers were higher, but an initiative to de-congest the institution has seen a drastic drop down till that time when the standard teacher-to-student ratio of  one (1)  teacher per 50 students will be attained.

This forms the basis of the major challenge in the school where thousands flock to quench their thirst for quality education in the best-performing public school in the second-largest slum in Africa.

“Our guests, teachers, and fellow learners, good morning. Begun the Female President of Olympic Junior School.

It is my great pleasure I stand here as the President of Olympic Junior Secondary School.

I thank our visitors for visiting us on this special day. I would like to express my appreciation to our visitors for taking time from their busy schedules to visit our school. Your presence has added an extra spark to this day and has made it even more special.” The twelve-year-old welcomed and set a cordial climate for the short meeting with the children’s government.

“We are very good but there are some challenges that we are facing.” Initiated the meeting after an entry general good morning greetings from the World Bank Leader.

“Number One, we cannot study CBC, well without computers. We need more computers because most of us cannot afford them. Secondly, we get sanitary pads, but they are not sufficient. Thank you.” Quickly concluded the junior school President.

Another neatly dressed, confident, and composed younger girl, approached the Bench Chaired by the World Bank Vice President for Human Development, MS Mamta Murthi.

“Good morning our visitor, my name is Suzzie Mulika,

As you can see the challenge we have among others is that our library is empty, and we need books to study. We also need additional classes. Thank you.”  Ended the presentation by the eight-year-old President of the primary section.

To the best of their capabilities, the learners presented their petitions to the World Bank leadership, leaving the convincing bit to the school to demonstrate the need and how prudently it can utilize resources should an opportunity come forth.

The five thousand figure synonymously resonates with the biblical reference to Jesus and feeding the five thousand men with two loaves of bread and three fish. Olympic children are beneficiaries of various interventions from The National and County Governments, organizations, and well-wishers to encourage education in the slums.

Nairobi City Dishi na County Feeding program lorry arrives attracting cheers from the over 5000 hungry children who mostly rely on that one meal for the day. Among the school children, some spare and take home food to their non-schooling siblings and ailing parents or elderly grandparents who are caregivers to orphans often occasioned by the AIDS pandemic, drug abuse, and crime in the alarmingly large informal settlement.

The deafening cheers from the saviour food truck spark emotional memories of recently concluded awards of the effective Government Elimu Scholarships that revealed the extremely dire need for educating the poor and vulnerable children, to uplift their livelihoods, that of their families and communities in Kenya.

The World Bank Vice President for Human Development MS, Mamto Murthi encouraged the children to take-up education.

In her address, she expressed pleasure in meeting the young leadership not only of the school but of this country, saying it is at school that leadership begins.

“This is where the practice of leadership begins. It begins in school. So it is thrilling to see this local government in the school and to hear you voice the needs of all the children in the school so bravo and well done for having this body which is representing all the wonderful children and learners,” Encouraged the Vice President.

She reiterated the message that learning is an asset that nobody can take away from them and it was a lifelong investment.

“You will have this all your lives. That is why it is the most important thing that you can acquire. You acquire it just like you are doing now coming to school and learning what you can. I want to encourage you to continue to do this because this is something you will have till the end of your life.” Noted the World Bank vice president for human development.

She referred to education as an irrevocable asset, something that can never leave you something that can never be taken away and will be with you. This knowledge, this value, and this leadership will be with you always. And it will propel you forward in life.

By Joseph Kamolo Mutua

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