In a world that is rapidly technologically and socially changing, students must learn to adapt and be ready to face challenges that lie ahead. Educators are reaching for innovative approaches to meet rising expectations and equip their students to live fulfilling lives after graduations. Global Peace Foundation (GPF) education division, Global Peace Education, is working to transform schools together with principles, Ministries of Education and other stakeholders to transform education.
Two such partners were featured in the Kenya Standard for their daring leadership that took at-risk schools and durned them around. Both schools have implemented one of GPE’s signature programs.
Two signature projects that has emerged from this coordinated effort are the Character and Creativity Initiative (CCI) and Leap Hubs.
CCI focuses on educating the whole child, placing special emphasis on character development. CCI schools focus on learning virtues like team work, accountability, responsibility, hard work and ownership are viewed as equally as important as reading, writing and arithmetic. Teachers are also trained to provide students with room to explore their own creative genius to find solutions to academic as well as social problems that they face. By tapping into their intrinsic potential, students are allowed the space to blossom.
Nancy Mutai was assigned principal to Embakassi Girls’ High School in Nairobi in 2011. At a time the school was entrapped in the slums of Nairobi creating an unhealthy and almost impossible learning environment. In her interview with The Standard Nancy said, “Honestly, nothing in the name prepared me for a slum environment and the myriad challenges the school presented. Embakasi was no launch pad to the skies or runway of sorts as the name suggests.” But Principle Mutai’s didn’t balk. She set out to build a border around the school, and within the walls she began the transformation of the school’s culture, starting from the teachers. Outside the walls she demanded support and accountability from community leaders for their local school. Her passion for cultivating the leaders of tomorrow and her dedication and belief in the power of education has catapulted Embakassi into a 180 degree turnaround.
Since 2011 the student body has grown from a meager, uninspired 150 students to now over 500, motivated students. The faculty whom had lost their fire to educate are now replaced by teachers who are impassioned to building up successful Kenyan citizens. The school has become a positive landmark and presence in the community. Principal Mutai has not only changed the trajectory of the school but also the student families’ involvement and investment into the school.
Mr. Stephen Njoroge, who spoke at the Global Peace Convention 2014, has demonstrated similar leadership in his tenure at Moi Forces Academy. He took a negatively branded school and turned it into one of the most coveted academies in Nairobi. Mr. Njoroge recalls that character and creativity were always key elements in his approach to education reform. He has high expectations for teachers and students and upholds strong discipline for himself and his faculty and students.
Principle Njoroge encouraged entrepreneurial endeavors, often dedicating lesson time to cultivate ventures. Some of his graduates have eventually returned to hire students, and pay for their own higher education. As The Standard’s article highlights, “Today, the school he headed for seven years boasts of well-structured commercial enterprises run entirely by students who among themselves appoint chief executive officers and managers in charge of human resource, marketing, finance and other facets.”
Through his personal dedication and the transformation of the school’s culture, Njoroge like Mutai worked to provide students and faculty to grow beyond the requirements of standardized tests and assessments. Creative endeavors are building an environment where students and faculty are engaging in dialogue and activities to address problems, while generating solutions for the problems that they face.
Both Mutai and Njoroge are examples the type of educators that GPF is working with and cultivating. These are educators who believe and can tap into the potential of each student. By cultivating the potential of each students and by allowing them to tap into their own creative genius, individuals like Mutai and Njoroge are forging the foundation for their students to have a fighting chance to succeed in the world’s competitive and morally void environment.
While each of these educators and administrators have their own method and practice of teaching, it is their common belief in the potential of their students, no matter where they come from, and they are willing to push themselves and their students to reach the highest level of excellence.
No matter what obstacles that they face in their journey to success, these teams of students and their mentors are working to move forward. It is because of their passion for development and growth and through moral and innovative approaches, that each of these educators are investing in the future of their students, their communities, their nation and the world.