Kajiado school eases parents’ fee burden via farm labour plan

Tuesday, March 19th, 2024 02:00 | By
Kajiado school
Image used for illustration. PHOTO/Pixabay/Pexels

Parents in Kajiado Central sub-county who have challenges paying school fees have benefitted from a farming project where they work as casual labourers in exchange for school fees.

The Quickmart-sponsored project dubbed Kilimo Shuleni at IldamSecondary School was initiated seven months ago to help them cope with the reality of harsh climate change, boost food security and help in learners’ retention at the institution where most parents are pastoralists.

The project was initiated on a two-acre piece of land before expanding to five acres after the first phase which used drip irrigation proved successful.

The parents were identified to work at the farm under the supervision of an agronomist and their wages is converted into a bursary for their children.

In the last one week, the school has had a bumper harvest of maize and beans under the rain fed cultivation.

Improved nutrition

The school principal Pius Kimita says since the inception of the programme, learning of atleast 20 students who would be out of school due to lack of school fees have not been interrupted.

“We are so delighted as a school because the pilot project has been successful and student retention in school has been achieved. The school nutrition has also improved because of the availability of enough organic vegetables from our farm now included in the menu,” said Kimita.

Quickmart head of marketing and sales Betty Wamaitha says the decision of the retailer to purchase the produce at a market price even after catering for all costs of production was informed by the need of extending its Community Social Responsibility initiatives.

“Climate change resilience education is crucial in empowering communities. The farming education among students is a lifetime lesson that they can apply in future to transform their communities besides the learners benefiting from accessing education through the program,” she says.

Benefit learners

Wamaitha says following the success of the pilot project, the land under cultivation will be extended to benefit more learners.

The school has extensive piece of land and has sufficient borehole water that is able to facilitate drip irrigation.

Area MP Memusi Kanchori says the initiative has been crucial to the locals who have been undergoing free training on farming under irrigation and rain-fed agriculture.

“Livestock keeping as the only source of livelihood is no longer sustainable. We continue encouraging partners to extend training to natives on adopting climate-smart practices. Some farmers are willing to engage in crop farming but the skills gap is the biggest nightmare,” he said.

We are happy that the project has encouraged many herders to till land and plant crops. We have some boreholes with under-utilised water that can be used for farm irrigation,” said Memusi.

Plenty of vegetables in the farm has enriched meals offered at the school with a population of 400 learners.

The initiative comes amid low transition levels and reported drop outs of learners due to lack of school fees.

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