Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Term 2 Exam Scores and School Rankings

Below are the rankings and the average scores for the schools in the Shariani school zone which covers the northeast portion of coastal Kenya. As you can see, Vutakaka typically ranks in 1st among the over 25 schools and scores are often twice as good as the local Takaungu Primary School.

Standard 1:

1. Vutakaka Junior School - 440.60
2. Shariani Academy - 414.71
3. Baharini Primary - 352.75
17. Takaungu Primary - 264.86

  • Neema Yaa - 477
  • Esther Mwangombe - 475
  • Nelly Rongoma - 472

Standard 2:

1. Vutakaka Junior School - 380.28
2. Kadzinuni Primary - 325.70
3. Takaungu Primary - 318.18

  • Ghalib Twaha - 490
  • Saumu Katana - 483
  • Moza Twalib - 483
  • Khamis Answar - 480

Standard 3:

1. Vutakaka Junior School - 369.36
2. Majajani Primary - 345.85
3. In His Grace Academy - 333.41
24. Takaungu Primary - 221.34

  • Josephine Safari - 480
  • Fatma Aboud - 474
  • Abubakar Ahmed - 474
  • Dominic Chai - 470

Standard 4:

1. In His Grace Academy - 298.34
2. Vutakaka Junior School - 283.86
3. Mtomondoni Primary - 250.51
22. Takaungu Primary - 181.85
The scores for this class were lower across the board because the Ministry of Education changed the exams this year. There was a disconnect within all schools between what they were teaching and what was to be required of them on exam day. We are working to ensure that our students improve for the next exam in December!

  • Albert Masha - 389
  • Aisha Mohamed - 377
  • Said Aly - 371

Standard 5:

1. Vutakaka Junior School - 307.30
2. In His Grace Academy - 305
3. Baharini Primary - 264.25
21. Takaungu Primary - 216.59

  • Ibrahim Ramadhan - 435
  • Mohamed Aboud - 418
  • Najash Fauz - 405

Top KG Students:

KG1, Average - 388

  • Duri Ahmed - 495
  • Amina Al-Amin - 493
  • Nabahan Rashid - 492

KG2, Average - 439

  • Ilifatt Jamal - 494
    Grace Baya - 494
    Athman Juma - 493
    Ahmed Hussein - 491

KG3, Average - 432

  • Lilian Ngala - 499
  • Nancy Daniel - 487
  • Lilian Kenga - 485

Monday, July 20, 2009

Letter from the Head of School

Greetings to you all from Takaungu! I would like to first take this opportunity to sincerely thank you for the support you offer to our school. Vutakaka Junior School is excelling academically, and that is our greatest achievement for the children of Takaungu and the surrounding villages. The results speak for themselves. At the end of Term 1, we placed 2nd and 3rd in the zone from the grades that we offer, classes 1 through 5. We have managed to improve during this term. As of the second mid-term exam, we are 1st place in our zone for grades 1-3 and 5, and 2nd place in the zone for grade 4. We are so proud of our students and teachers for working so hard to be on top!

This level of academic achievement has only been possible because of support from our sponsors. The ability to provide our students with textbooks and other reading materials, as well as to create a supportive environment for our teachers and staff has been crucial in reaching our goals.

In Term 2, we were given the gift of technology through a grant of 100 XO laptops. In my first letter of the year, I said that we were aspiring to train our pupils in modern technology. This is now a ‘dream come true.’ Our pupils are learning fabulous new things with their laptops and we believe this will bring their performance and their futures to greater heights. I appreciate the collective efforts involved in introducing our students to the XO laptops, and want to thank everyone involved in making this happen.

We are still running the various clubs at our school, and these help to nurture the students’ natural talents and abilities. Students are exposed to new activities and social environments through the garden club, the drama club, and the debate club, to name a few. Our sports teams also continue to help students develop. This term, we took our girls football team to a competition in collaboration with Moving the Goalpost, an organization dedicated to providing girls with the opportunity to play football. The greatest challenge for our sports program is the procurement of sports attire. The families of our students cannot afford uniforms, and our students are forced to play in their school uniforms. In the future, we hope for donations of or assistance in purchasing uniforms for girls football, boys football, basketball, and volleyball.

Despite all of our achievements, there are still challenges faced.
If efforts can be made to overcome some of these challenges, Vutakaka Junior School (VSJ) can continue to be such a top school. Our biggest need now is support for infrastructure. VJS is growing every year, and we want to make sure we can offer our oldest students a place each year in the future. We need to build more classrooms, toilets, offices, and storage space at the EAC’s primary school property. Our lunch program is one of the most costly but important parts of our school. Every day, students who would otherwise not eat lunch are given a nutritious meal. We need your continued support to make sure our students are well nourished each day and ready to learn.

Again, I want to thank you all for the support you have already given, and the support you will give us going forward. This school is changing the lives of the students and their families in the Takaungu sub-location, and we must continue to provide this important service to this community. I welcome you all to come to Kenya and visit us and see the school in action for yourselves.

Best Regards,
Catherine Munga
Head Teacher
Vutakaka Junior School

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Day 1 with the XOs!

We gave the XOs out to both class 4 and 5. All Priyanka could get through in the class time for each class was rule coverage, recording which kid has which laptop by taking the batteries out and writing the barcode number, turning on the computers (choosing color and writing name), using the mouse, opening the calculate function, doing some small calculations, and then shutting down. The kids were really excited!

We had been using the new classroom for Std 3. We decided yesterday that we would covert it back to a computer lab for the rest of the year. The 12 benches and tables will go in, and we brought a huge locking cabinet over from Vutakaka that the kids will lock their laptops in at the end of the classes.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The new Junior School classroom!

Each year, we add another grade to our school to ensure that the students that have been with us from the beginning can stay with us until high school. Currently, we have KG1 through STD6 by 2011, we will go all the way through STD8 (which is similar to 8th grade in the States).

With the grant we received this year from OLPC, we were able to build one more classroom. This classrooms are set up for the use of the computers and will allow us to accept even more students to the school! By the end of the month, we will have electricity wired to these buildings!

As he second term of the year winds down, students are getting excited about the new XO laptops! The third term, beginning in September, will prove to be an exciting one for the school with new classrooms, 100 laptops, and electricity!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Takungu community meets their XOs!

Today, the XOs were introduced to the Standard 4 and 5 classes and their parents! The meeting was a huge success and everyone is very excited about the program. There have been 5 teacher trainings so far and 2 teacher meetings about the laptops. The teachers have learned the following programs: chat, speak, write, Tam-tam mini, scratch, distance, etoys, memorize, and record.

Bryan is going to spend the day setting up the server and the computers at the school. He is going to train Omar (the Standard 5 teacher) in the tech side of things, so that if problems arise in the future, Omar should be able to work out the kinks. The deployment to the students is happening Monday (standard 4) and Tuesday (standard 5). Unfortunately, we will be using the generator to charge the computers initially as the electricity is still not connected.

The remaining computers will be given to the current Standard 3 class next year (thereby covering 4-6). Priyanka is going to make a spreadsheet to record which computer is given to each student. Even though the laptops won't go home with the kids, ownership is still important. We met with some visitors from OLPC last week. They feel very strongly about sending the computers home with the students, but Priyanka, Bryan, and I think that cannot happen until next year at the earliest. We feel that it is pretty much a fact that the computers will last for a shorter amount of time if they go home with the kids, but we are willing to pilot it next year.

Priyanka has been working hard with the teachers to develop lesson plans for Term 3 using the XOs in Science, English, Math, and Social Studies. Breona and Jen, back in the States, will add to the lesson plans and help support them by caching websites to help support the lessons.
For the rest of Term 2, the students will be learning the laptops during one PE class per week and two Creative Arts classes per week. There will also be optional after school hours four days a week (two for Standar 4 and two for Standard 5). During the school break, the students will have the first week off, and will resume studies with the computers the second week of break.

Because of Madrasa everyday during break but Thursday and Friday, students will come in August 13 and 14, August 20 and 21, and starting on August 24th, Madrasa takes a break and they can come every day until school opens on the 7th of September if that schedule suits everyone involved. This gives the students and teachers a lot of time during break with the computers.

The teachers involved will be Anita, the computer teacher, and Saade, who has been on leave and agreed to work in August to make up for time lost. She will train on the computers and will be able to assist Anita. Other teachers are welcome to come in during the break but are not required to.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Term 1 update

Vutakaka school teachers have reported on the progress of each of the classes after the first semester of 2009.

KG1 - Madam Kimolo worked with the KG1 students on the basics; counting and writing numbers and letters, talking about pictures, and practicing their English. They learned the parts of the body, names of domestic animals and fruits and about different things in their environment. Margaret said of the challenges they faced this semester, "Some children were very young and are fresh from home and therefore had trouble concentrating in a school environment. I helped them by having a lot of singing and poem recitation to make them gain interest in school. Many of the children could not hold pencils well so I helped them by doing a lot of coloring and scribbling to strengthen their finger muscles."

KG2 - Students in KG2 practiced spelling and dictating words focusing on 3 letter words and vowels and began adding and subtracting. Malemba Mwadime helped them practice their English "by learning the Kenyan flag and its colors, utensils, domestic animals, parts of the plant, parts of the body, wild animals, and the types of weather." Malemba used visuals to help students make the connection between numbers and values. By the end of the semester, students were better able to draw pictures from imagination or their memory.

KG3 - Madam Faith had students in KG3 counting from 1 to 100 in English, adding and subtracting in the double digits, and praticing the tough sounds like ch, th, and sh. Students in this grade began being able to read entire books and to develop their handwriting.

STD1 - STD1, which is similar to 3rd grade in the US, is the first class at Vutakaka Junior School. Here students begin to rotate through different subjects such as science and social studies. Charts and photographs line the classroom that help remind students of what they learned in the primary school and to help them transition to the new subjects and syllabi.

STD2 - Saade found that STD2 students began enjoying class more throughout the semester as the courses are becoming more creative at this level. Their discipline and focus has improved as well as their energy due to the physical exercise they are getting each day at the school. This grade incorporates more life skills into lessons, such as problem solving, health, and enviromental education. Saade attributes this to their higher interest and performance levels, as well as self-esteem, at this grade.

STD3 - Teacher Joseph helped students become fluent in Kiswahli and English and to prepare them for the upper level classes they would be taking the next year. He used lesson plans to create awareness of the challenges
ges students face in day to day life. Joseph stressed the importance of independant reading skills throughout the semester.

STD4 - STD4 is the first class of upper primary and the first year that students attend school until 3:30pm everyday. Science classes are facilitiated with more experiments and social and religious students (required to be taught by the state) become more advanced. Madam Mary found students becoming even more engaged and creative at this level.

STD5 - Preparing for State exams is a major focus of this grade and STD5 students learned the value of reaching out to teachers, peers and parents to assist in their studies. Students at Vutakaka received the highest scores in the district and were awarded for this by the state last month!

Top Students of Term 1 2009

KG1 - Amina Al-Amin, Grace Baya, and Nabahan Rashid

- Reuben Mumba (right), Linet Karisa, and Khamis Ali

KG3 - Lilian Ngala, Nancy Daniel, and Mohammed Ali

STD1 - Robert Mumbo, Musa Unda, Lilian Moses, and Samuel Kalama

STD2 - George Katana, Moza Twalib, Baraka Kaingu and Saumu Katana

STD3 - Jospehine Safari, Mary Emmanuel, and Lucky Chai

STD4 - Albert Masha, Aisha Mohamed, and Rehema Kenga

STD5 - Ibrahim Ramadhan, Muttaqina Salim, and Mohammad Aboud