Catalyzing Change, Igniting Potential
75 schools in Mathare Valley operate without government support, trained teachers, or funding. More than 18,000 children go to these schools every day. Schools in Mathare Valley and other marginalized areas are typically operated as low-cost community schools in order to serve children who would otherwise not have access to schooling. Despite a five-fold increase in the population of children in the last 30 years, no new schools have been built in Nairobi's slums during the same period. Community entrepreneurs responded to the demand for schooling by launching low-cost community schools. Although education quality is mixed, the majority of the community's families choose these schools because they typically outperform government schools and are perceived to be better school environments.
Yet, these schools face great challenges: 90% of teachers are largely untrained and do not have access to professional development opportunities in any school. Classrooms are overcrowded and lack learning materials - it is not uncommon to find teachers borrowing textbooks from students attending another school because schools do not have the ability to provide these essential resources. Existing principals frequently have inadequate training and meager resources at their disposal.
In fact, just 20 of the 75 schools offer levels up to Standard 8, the completion year of primary school. If you were a child in Mathare, your chances of finishing basic education and sitting for the exam would be very low. But we aim to change this.
We recruit teachers, principals, and emerging community leaders into a 1-year fellowship program. In our leadership institute they are provided on-site support, professional development, technical assistance, and coaching. During the school vacation months, intensive training sessions are held on the campuses of various Nairobi universities with Dignitas Project instructors equipping fellows with the knowledge and skills necessary to transform schools from marginalized and disconnected institutions into high-performing centers that enable strong education outcomes for children. Fellows receive certificates from Dignitas Project at the completion of the program.