Our pilot school (KevJumba High School in the Lenana slums) supplemented with coinciding research aimed to identify and evaluate four key elements:
a) The demand of secondary school education in slums (also associated with enrollment and financial sustainability)
b) The risks and liabilities involved with “building” schools in slums (land tenancy issues)
c) The delivery of education in community secondary schools
d) The effective implementation and integration of a service learning curriculum and an evaluation of its relevance/need
As a result, our pilot has helped shape our work. In addition, during our own R&D and through findings from our local research partners, we have also identified and studied existing community secondary schools in the Nairobi slums (varying in maturity, budget, health), which have shaped our model. Here are some of the key findings that have allowed us to move forward with our replication model.
a) “building” schools and establishing a new school is a large risk in urban slums because of the tenuous land tenancy issues. Land rights are highly contentious; therefore newly established schools in slums are threatened by eviction/demolition. The liabilities are too great, so we are only investing in these capital projects on a case-by-case basis, and they will only be a small percentage of our portfolio mix.
b) These community secondary schools are in demand, but school directors/entrepreneurs need greater tools, programs, and strategies to market the schools and recruit students. We currently have 35 students in our pilot school who are paying minimal fees to attend and that is intended to reach 80 by January 2014. We are intending to do further research to identify optimal tuition rates for maximum enrollment.
c) These schools have the potential to provide quality education as they are able to attract quality teachers. We are still doing a more extensive study into the determinants of academically successful community schools. Scores in some of the community secondary schools are just as competitive as the local government schools. Tenure and turnover of teachers are still concerns, but there are strong correlations with the financial health of the school.
d) Our SLUMS Labs (training) at KJHS as well as the implementation have been successful.