Kirrie’s link with Kenya continues

Nicola Davie (left) and Mary McGregor during their visit to the Litein High School in Kenya.
Nicola Davie (left) and Mary McGregor during their visit to the Litein High School in Kenya.

A four-year link-up between Webster’s High School and Litein High School for boys in the Rift Valley in Kenya is to continue, thanks to the dedication of staff, pupils and the local community in Kirriemuir.

The association, which has paid dividends for both schools, was under threat when British Council funding ran out.

However, it was agreed Webster’s should continue to strive to build on the foundations laid over the last few years to promote global awareness in both schools.

A report in the Webster’s summer newsletter gives details of a recent self-funded trip to Litein by Webster’s clerical officer Nicola Davie and Mary McGregor, Principal Teacher, pupil care and support.

It was their second visit and both were struck by the positive changes which have taken place.

The school’s principal, Mr Ndeda, visited Kirriemuir last year and has since put many reforms in place.

Nicola and Mary spent as much time as possible working in the school, with Nicola helping staff set up a number of systems which will help with its day to day running. They also taught English, SE, basic computing and geography.

Mary told the ‘Herald’ that, when British Council funding dried up, she and Nicola approached Webster’s rector Mr Eric Summers to ask if they could self-fund their latest trip, carried out during the pupils’ study leave.

She spoke of the benefits the link has had with pupils at Webster’s, stating: “They have seen the differences in the education systems - it has been a real eye-opener. Understanding the importance of education is something the Kenyan students have brought to them. Issues like global justice, poverty and a deeper understanding of how the world works have benefited our pupils greatly, This has been the best thing I have been involved in. I started teaching in 1980 and this is the most wonderful thing.

“The whole point of the funding was that it would become sustainable and when we were away in Kenya a group of staff and pupils organised our spring fair which raised over £1,200 to keep the link going.”

Curricular links have been built in to the school year at Webster’s, looking at the work for HIV and AIDs in both countries and the history of Kenya in social subjects. Work has also been done in art, home economics, geography and physics and creative writing.

Nicola gave an insight into a typical day in the life of the boys at Litein, which starts at four in the morning.

She said: “The boys explain all this to our kids and to them, starting at four in the morning and working to 10 at night is in-comprehensible. Over there education is so important to the boys as it is their key to a better way of life. Our link has worked so well.”

A number of items including football boots and tops from staff and pupils were sent out to Kenya which have ensured the first 11 now play in boots, rather than their bare feet; study skills books sent out are now being used by the boys in their new library.

Mary added; “The purpose of our visit was to sustain the link and re-assure our Kenyan partners that we know it is far more difficult for them to raise money over there to keep the link going, and to reassure them we are doing what we can at this end to sustain it.”

As the fund-raising continues the plan is now for a party from Litein to visit Webster’s next year. In the meantime Webster’s pupils are linking up with the Litein students as pen-pals.

Webster’s rector Mr Eric Summers spoke of how the link fitted in perfectly with the new Curriculum for Excellence and of his confidence in its success thanks to the work of Mr Danus Skene of Kabisa, who offered a personal connection with the Kenyan link.

He said: “We have a school vision of global awareness. I think Kirrie is a nice place to live and work, but part of our job is to broaden pupils’ horizons and to make them aware of the rest of the world.”

He also referred to the link up between Southmuir Primary School and the primary next to Litein High School which is strengthening the links between the two communities.