However, as a young child he was too nervous to start school because all the lessons were taught in English and he only spoke Maa, the language of his Maasai parents.
Not speaking English prevents many children, like Muroki, from attending and performing well in school. By teaching children in their mother tongue when they start school, students are not only able to learn more quickly, but are better prepared to learn the national language or any second language e.g. English.
When we offered to help schools in Laikipia provide education in their mother tongue Maa, local teachers immediately saw how it would help children like Muroki.
Mr. Mwenda, a local primary teacher said, “by using this method, we can take advantage of children’s command of their oral language. We can work from what they already know and build to the unknown like reading, writing and mathematics.”
After two years, Mr. Mwenda reports that Muroki is now able to read in Maa, Kiswahili and English. He is ranked in the top 10 out of his 67 pupil class.
Research shows that teaching students in their mother tongue in the first three or four years of school improves their performance and makes them more likely to complete their education.
Developing programmes like these enables marginalised children to engage with school at an early stage, allowing them to develop the basic building blocks to move on to the next level.