Manyatta is a Maasai word for settlement or compound, often temporary, established by a family or clan, or as an encampment of young warriors. AET coined this name to entice the families who live together to come together and learn.
In Laikipia County only 23% of residents have secondary level education or higher. In Laikipia North constituency, the rate is the lowest of the entire county (KNBS, 2013). This is what inspired us to develop a programme for parents and children to learn together.
Under the shade of acacia trees, there are now several classes of parents and children learning together. AET established 16-Manyatta learning centres in Mukogodo areas towards the end of last year. These learning centres aim is to support lower grade learners through parental participation in learning. At the centre, parents help the learners do their homework as well as help them read story books, school books and other materials available. Many of the stories are traditional folk stories that AET has collected, published, and given to the Manyatta centres. Parents are thankful they can use their traditional stories to help their children learn.
Parents are eager to learn as well, so they can more effectively support their children’s learning. A baseline survey indicated low literacy rates of parents with 8% of adults in Kenya having never attended school and 45% of mothers not able to read a Class 2 English story (Uwezo 2016). We have established 16 classes, which have an enrolment of about 25 learners, mainly female. A few men have enrolled, which is challenging the rest of the men to join in. The Manyatta learning centres use the “REFLECT” model to deliver the lessons. The parents participated in the selection of literacy and development issues that affect them. Some of the topics included business skills, girl drop out issues, reviewing children’s performance in school, parenting etc.
The biggest success is that the parents are now able to read and write, review their children’s books after school and they are excited about being able to dial numbers on phones, read and send text messages among other things. One of the older ladies said excitedly “Please give me your phone number, I will call you and prove to you I can now recognize and read numbers and make calls independently”.
As the reading and writing takes place in the learning centres, other members of the community are becoming supportive of the learning. Grandparents and other community volunteers now help with side activities with the little children. The activities include play, song and dance as well as games. The community is excited about the opportunity to learn. The centres open doors for education for all. We look forward to the celebration of the Literacy Day together.