Making Learning Fun During Summer Vacation September 10, 2015  by      

By: Jeffrey Okoro, Education Program Officer

In this team-building game, students guide each other across a tough (though imaginary) landscape.

August marked the second official school vacation period in the Kenyan education calendar. For 4 weeks, students were happy to have a break after the last 3 months of strenuous classes. This presents the perfect opportunity to connect with students in an engaging way about things the “exam-oriented” standard curriculum leaves out: life skills, leadership, goal setting, teamwork, and effective communication.

At CFK, we believe that education should be well-rounded and cover all angles of a student’s intellectual development. That includes standard measures of success in education, such as the KCSE, a national exam similar to the SAT in the U.S. Despite the intensity of the standard high school curriculum for Kenyan students, the national average is often around a C+.

CFK scholars represent an exception. Though they come from underprivileged backgrounds, which often includes growing up in the Kibera slum, attending informal schools, and possibly only having a single parent or no parents, the average performance of our scholars is a B and 90% of our scholars transition to further education options like universities, colleges and technical schools.

For everything else not covered by the curriculum, we turn to more interactive forms of education. Who said learning can’t be fun?

Students engage in a collaborative activity to guide a ball using pieces of pipe into a bucket. When you can't use your hands, what do you do?

This August, we held a training and learning session for 38 students from the program, along with 4 facilitators. In the past, we’ve held these sessions indoors, but this time we decided to host an adventure at the Nairobi Arboretum. Intended as a trial plot for harvesting trees for rail lines, it is now a park with exotic vegetation and wild animals, including many bird and monkey species. This summer’s session was dubbed, “Making Learning Fun,” and featured events, games, and lectures themed towards improving students’ communication, teamwork, and goal setting skills. (You can see some of the games in the pictures interspersed throughout this story.)

Our 38 participants learned a lot during that session, thanks to the facilitators’ effort to encourage them to actively participate. Each of the students set one or two goals they hope to achieve for the upcoming school session, discussed key points on the core topics, and—perhaps most importantly of all—were exposed to an environment other than Kibera, something that happens too rarely for students who live there.

Earning good grades is vital to students’ success. But CFK’s Education Program also recognizes the important role that exposure visits, collaborative learning, and mentoring play in inspiring students to have a vision for their future and to act upon that vision. With both a solid academic foundation and the tools to grow, our scholars are set up for success—and they are having fun getting there!

Celebrating the end of the day!

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