Registered Charity: 1136745. Trustees: Simon Brister (Secretary and Financial), Nicky Hart (Legal), John Pearce (Chairman and Educational), Sam Pearce, Stephane Janes, Hannah Rooke.

KES supports education in Kenya, by providing scholarships to significantly disadvantaged bright, pupils to be boarding students at Bahati Division Academy (BDA) and other Kenyan schools; and by contributing to resources and facilities which will assist the education of these students.

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Happy Christmas and our latest news!

KES trustee Nicky reports on her visit to Kenya with Founding Trustee Simon...

Meeting KES Students face-to-face...

We make the trip to Kenya regularly to see the KES project in action and meet face-to-face with as many of our sponsored students as we can, and talk with teachers and school heads, as well as parents, aunties, grandmas and guardians. Simon and Chair John visited last year and this September Joseph and Lydia kindly hosted Simon and I and helped greatly with the school visits. Last time we both visited together was two years ago. At that point most of our KES students were about to change secondary schools from Bahati Division Academy, as it was going to close. The boys were moving to Sacred Heart and the girls to Vanessa Grant Girls School. So we were keen this time to visit them all in their new environment and make sure they are happy and thriving.

Simon and Nicky with KES Girls at Vanessa Grant

Due Diligence

KES is currently sponsoring 53 students at six schools. We managed to visit five schools and see 49 of the students. We do look out for any issues on our visits and this time there was one, which luckily we were able to help to resolve. All the students seemed fine, as far as we could tell, apart from one, Rachel, who is the only KES student at her national school. We had been concerned about her progress and so were pleased to see her and to understand the problem. We could tell from a walk around with Rachel and our discussion with her that the school was badly under-resourced. The teachers seemed demoralised. As a result of the visit, in consultation with her adoptive grandmother, we were able to make arrangements to offer Rachel a transfer to Vanessa Grant for her last 2 years of secondary. She will be welcomed at VGG and we are sure will find everything much better resourced and join old BDA friends.

Vanessa Grant Grounds

Update from Lydia Kiuna KES Welfare Officer!

"We stayed with Rachel for two weeks whereby she had tuition in both Maths and Chemistry while also attending to her music lessons. This is as very helpful for her. She then went for her interview, at Vanessa Grant, on 28th November and passed! She was very excited together with the grandmother and really loved the school! She will be joining VGGS on 8th of January."

University successes

Most KES boys are at Sacred Heart and most girls at Starehe or Vanessa Grant. These are all excellent schools. We were reassured at Sacred Heart to spend time with Doris, the school counsellor, who moved over from BDA, and Brian, the science teacher, who also transferred from BDA. They are both kind and thoughtful teachers. The results from Sacred Heart have been very good with 6 boys out of our 7 finishers last year winning a university place. At VGG, Nancy, the principal, gave us a generous amount of her time to talk about the school and the KES students and issues in Kenyan education.

Our Kenyan visits are always rewarding and fun, thanks in large part to Joseph and Lydia Kiuna. We always learn a lot from them about current issues in Kenya, and they often have news of former students who have progressed on to university.

Starahe Dormitories

State funded Secondary Education?

Since the Kenyan government made state-funded secondary education available to all two years ago, some of the national schools have been overwhelmed by extra student numbers - accompanied by no extra funding. So, for example in Rachel’s school, she is now in a class of 57 students with the obvious detrimental effect on education. While it is great that all children are now able to access secondary education, clearly much more funding is needed to support that promise with qualified teachers.

Another issue which impinges on KES and the fortunes of our female students particularly is sex education. This is very restricted in Kenyan schools - as is information about contraception. Inevitably and regrettably Kenya suffers from a high number of teenage pregnancies, particularly in areas with the highest levels of poverty. Some of our KES students have fallen victim to this, whether at school or soon after leaving. What we try and do is to offer support and encouragement to girls to continue or return to education - one of our students who went through pregnancy and gave birth will shortly complete her school career. We hope she will continue on to university next year. Early pregnancy is not what we hope for for our students, but in that event the child will at least have an educated mother.

Starahe girls and Nicky

It was great to meet so many KES students and talk to them about their hopes and aspirations. We took photos and reported back to individual sponsors. After all this, we had a bit of a holiday at the coast too!


John, Chair of KES adds:

These visits are so important as you can tell. We, KES trustees thanked Simon and Nicky profusely and we noted that they funded the whole of this trip themselves - as always they give freely of their time and money.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

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Friday, 13 July 2018

Summer 2018 Update

Regular readers will know it's been a turbulent time for KES and so Trustees were pleased to relax a little and reflect on the solid achievements of the last nine months, or so..

You'll see in our recent posts the following good news:

1. A great letter from one of our first KES University Scholars - Lucy McBaire.  It's an inspirational read and a tribute to BDA's motto, "Impact Our World"... Lucy is certainly poised to do just that Read Lucy's email here

2. Letters and parcels are so important for our scholars and so Simon offers some tips about how to ensure yours are delivered safely  Read on here

3. Our last, certainly not least, post update, is Chair John's report on Simon and his visit to Kenya and the new schools.  This is well worth a read as it gives the detail of the new schools for our scholars.  Read John's report here


All this demonstrates that the decision to close the BDA Secondary (allowing Joseph and Lydia to focus on expanding the successful Primary) was the right decision, at the right time 9 months ago.

Thank you for your continued interest and support...

KES Trustees....

Scholar letters are always informative and, as our scholars move on, often inspirational.  This from Lucy Mbaire, now at Kenyatta University, caught our attention and we wanted to share it with a wider audience...

Hello Simon,

Am going on well with the studies and campus life.

I take this opportunity to thank you, Veronica and all the trustees.  Your financial generosity since 2013 has allowed me to be steps closer to my goals. By supporting me in education you've enlightened me and my family.  Your support will help me concentrate on what is more important to me, education without worrying about the fees. This will help me reach my goal of graduating with a degree in bachelor of Environmental Studies and Community Development. 

I hope that one day I'll be able to help other students achieve their goals just as you have helped me. Every passing hour, day, week, and months I get to love my course, Yeah environmental studies!  I have joined a school environmental club which has lots of impact. It has greatly helped me recognise that we really need to focus more on our environment. We have lots of activities with other organisations that help us pass information to many about  the risks facing our planet.

Like last week we had a movement called save our NNP (Nairobi National Park).  You have heard of Standard Railway Gauge?  SGR was constructed from Nairobi to Mombasa and unfortunately it passes through the park, thus destroying the ecosystem, our pride, our heritage.  Meaning in coming years we may end up losing our wildlife.  Imagine taking my grandchild to the museum to see an image of an elephant because they may not be there in years to come. 

It hurts and but we are not too late to change.  Its horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment.  It may take me hours to talk about this but I hope I will always be a part of the solution to my planet and not part of the pollution. 

I love this course and even after successful degree, I can't wait to do my masters and PHD.  Thank you for leading me in this brightness of education.  God bless you.  Next time you visit Kenya make sure you visit my school and we will share a lot.

Thank you and say hey to Veronica for me.

Lucy Mbaire

Sending Letters and Parcels to Scholars

Simon writes...

Happy Scholars Joyce and Grace
With their hand delivered parcels

Our KES scholars love to receive letters and, even better, parcels.  

One or two sponsors have asked me about sending letters and parcels to Kenya and whether they get through okay.

Well, the best way is to deliver them is by hand, as John and I did on our recent visit (see John's report below) but this is not always practical.  So what is my advice?

In short:
  • Letters themselves always seem to get through okay
  • Books seem to get through okay – providing that the package is obviously a book.
  • Packages that look more interesting – and particularly ones that can be slipped under a coat by an employee – are likely to disappear.  I wouldn’t advise sending a football shirt, in the ordinary post,for example.
  • We have found that other parcels do go missing somewhere in the system and the advice we got on our recent visit that if you do decide to send a present then the best way is via DHL.

A reminder of the new addresses for students:

Vanessa Grant Girls School
PO Box 14-20108
Rongai Kenya 

Sacred Heart Boys School
PO Box 238-20108
Rongai, Kenya 

Bahati Division Academy
PO Box 15413-20100
Nakuru Kenya

KES Trustees visit Kenya

In short:

Following the closure of BDA Secondary and the transfer of KES scholars to new schools Chair John and Founding Trustee Simon visited Kenya to see how our scholars were settling in and to carry out due diligence, with child safety and welfare in mind.  John’s full report described their impressions gained from touring the schools, discussions with senior staff and meeting scholars in March. 

John reported back to Trustees, “In short, the Kenya trip left Simon and I feeling very positive and confident that all will be well, especially so when Lydia confirmed she is happy to continue her Welfare and school link role.  It is clear that Lydia and Joseph managed the smooth transfer of our scholars extremely well and both Simon and I am sure that the decision to close Bahati Division Academy High School was the right decision at the right time”.

The Schools..

Sacred Heart Boys School, Nakuru, is a Catholic Boys’ School, set in the grounds of a Roman Catholic Seminary.  Lydia, Simon and I were shown round school by Mr Thaddeus Onsomu, who, alongside Doris, School Counsellor and Brian Cheriot had come with the boys from BDA. The grounds are extensive, and the central quad is full of luscious, mature fruit trees.  

The Chapel

We visited the beautiful Chapel, basic dormitories, the simple kitchen and gardens and several classrooms. We visited a Chemistry laboratory during a Science Examination and were able to see the well -stocked Science Prep and Store-room.

Simon, Lydia and Thaddeus in the Kitchen
We met Father Ronald, the new Principal. He has been there one year and is impressive. He is young calm, highly educated and gave deep, reassuring assessments of what he has done, in his first year.  Finally, we met the KES boys who said they were happy and enjoying their new school. Father Ronald said they’d brought a very positive set of attitudes, a high level of engagement and good behavior. He was impressed with their use of English adding that it was having a positive effect on other students. The personal links between Lydia and two ex BDA staff who transferred with the boys are a real bonus.

John talking with the boys

Bahati Division Academy, Nakuru.  I don’t need to describe BDA, we know it well and Simon had visited with Nicky in November 2017.  We were shown round by Lydia, Headteacher Anthony Nangoye and his Deputy. The site is much developed with new buildings and significant growth of planting since my last visit in 2011.  There were very good signs of extra-curricular activities around the site and students were welcoming, happy, smiling and engaging.

Simon, Anthony and Deputy

Anthony, who has been head for almost a year, was clearly pleased that the site is now wholly Primary. He is keen, engaging, knowledgeable and has high hopes for the future. He talked animatedly about the importance marketing the school.

John, Lydia and BDA Scholars
Vanessa Grant, Nakuru. We were warmly welcomed to the impressive Vanessa Grant Girls Secondary School by the calm and reassuring Principal Nancy Mwaniki and Senior Staff.  Our visit was on Thanksgiving (Prize) day and we discovered were to be on the top table. 

As we toured the beautifully designed school buildings and well-appointed grounds we could hear girls singing in their Home Areas and each student we met greeted us with a smile and handshake.  The whole school exuded a confident, caring and happy learning environment.
Beautiful grounds and buildings

Prize Day in the School Hall.
We then learnt we were expected to speak at the three-hour ceremony, within Joseph’s allotted time, which we did.  We even helped present the prizes. The Programme included lively singing, talks and presentations.

The level of equipment in the school is very good indeed. It was quite emotional seeing the BDA girls, who were very happy to see us and there were some tears shed as we left.

Pangani Girls Nairobi. This is another impressive school.  The Deputy and Bursar met us and told us about the school’s history and high performance.
Passing on presents to Joyce and Amazing Grace
The impressive Library
The large, split site is in the heart of Nairobi and, as we walked around, the girls we met introduced themselves, were friendly, and obviously happy, well behaved and keen to learn. The substantial, stone buildings reminded me of my 1960’s Grammar School and when we visited the library we met the two KES scholars our family sponsors Joyce and Amazing Grace. They were clearly happy to be at the school and had settled in well.

Starehe Boys’ Centre, Nairobi - We were warmly welcomed by the Director Charles Amulavu Masheti on this brief visit. We have no KES Scholars here yet but Joseph is an alumni and his and Lydia’s son Andrew is a student here. It is another very impressive school in extensive grounds with excellent facilities and a powerful reputation for academic and character education.  The pictures of visiting dignitaries, from The Queen Mother, via Mohammed Ali to Bill Clinton hinted at great influence. 
Joseph, Charles, Simon and John
Starehe Girls’ Centre, Nairobi  - This is the Boys’ relatively recent sister school. We met the school’s Director Sister Jane Soita and Mary Njuguna in charge of scholarships.  This too is a most impressive school. Set in 55 acres of beautiful, prime real estate in the heart of Nairobi the founding principles of the school are both ethical and proven.


An afternoon game of Chess
The site is beautiful, on rolling hills, surrounded with extensive forests and a lake well used for Outdoor Activities.  The buildings are architecturally co-ordinated and the facilities for sports, dining, sleeping and recreation are both well ordered and kept.  Once again, the girls were happy, friendly, open and welcoming.  It felt a very special place of learning and we were impressed with Sister Jane’s calm assurance, care and relaxed manner.  

Simon and Nicky had each offered to sponsor two students and Simon was able to meet his two students.  Joseph and I were both moved by the quality and care the school takes and so we each offered to sponsor an extra student each.  It was a wonderful end to our visits.
John Pearce May 2018

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

January update and important news

We have some significant and positive developments to share about KES and our link school Bahati Division Academy (BDA).

In brief: (For the rationale and detail see further below:
  • BDA Secondary will close – BDA Primary will remain open and expand.
  • After extensive consultation existing KES Secondary scholars are being transferred to new, larger, more established schools.
  • KES will continue to support all existing scholars through secondary education.
  • KES will be wound up in 2022
When Joseph opened BDA in 2010, primary education was free in Kenya but secondary was only available if parents/guardians could pay. So, KES Trustees chose to support mainly secondary school students as the need for financial support was greater for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

BDA Primary thrived and so BDA Secondary was opened in 2012. We had stunning success in early 2017 when 11 KES students graduated for university and, again this year, 6 KES students have scored higher grades and will be able to secure university places.

Big decisions (November and December 2017)
In November 2017 Trustees Nicky and Simon visited Kenya and spent a lot of time with the school, scholars and staff and, of course, Joseph and Lydia. Simon and Nicky kept all Trustees fully informed of the significant facts that Joseph and Lydia told usWe have some positive developments to share. Sponsors have already been made aware of these developments, but we wanted to share the good news and updates with all our supporters.

Background (2010 -2017)
  • Both political parties in the presidential elections had pledged to introduce universal free secondary education in Kenya in 2018. (This was, in fact implemented earlier this month, January 2018).
  • BDA secondary school had 72 students, of whom 50 were KES sponsored, 7 sponsored by Kenyan contacts of Joseph and the small balance were boys whose parents or guardians paid for them privately.
  • The cost of running a secondary school with just 72 pupils meant it was being subsidised by the successful primary (which has 215 students). So, it was not possible to provide the level of facilities that would be available at larger private schools. For instance, a counsellor, and with KES selecting children from disadvantaged backgrounds this was often needed.
  • Joseph and Lydia’s experience was that parents preferred single sex schools, and the older, privately funded boys could be a disruptive influence on the remaining students.
  • Despite the above we had stunning results last year when 12 out of 17 of our KES students scored the university entrance level in their exams and are all now in university. Indeed, earlier this month (January 2018) we heard that 6 students had gained high enough results to access university.
  • Nevertheless, Joseph and Lydia wished to close the secondary school and use those facilities to expand the successful BDA primary school.

With the above in mind, the board of trustees reluctantly made the difficult but necessary decision not to take any further students into scholarship. We decided to concentrate our efforts on ensuring the present students completed their education and hopefully move to a university campus after leaving secondary school. This means that KES would be wrapped up in December 2022.

It would have been great to think that KES could continue indefinitely but the scheme depends a high level of due diligence and hard work. We know Simon spends a day and a half each week working on the administration and finances. As the funds received are mainly identified for individual students, we do not have the funds to engage a paid administrator and currently other trustees cannot take on the workload.

Of course, we’re sad that the KES project will be ending in 2022 but we never saw it as continuing indefinitely and we’ve achieved great things. Together with you, we’ll have safely piloted a project providing a great education for 98 young people from desperately impoverished backgrounds, with probably at least half moving on to university. That is something to celebrate.

Implications for existing KES scholars
A great deal of thought was put into how closure of BDA Secondary could best be managed. The option of keeping the school running for a further few years until all students completed their education was not viable as it would be hard to retain good staff with closure imminent, therefore not providing the high standards we demand for our students.

Above all we wanted to ensure students were not negatively affected by the decisions and ideally given a more positive opportunity. Therefore, Joseph and Lydia, in consultation with KES Trustees, decided that the best option was to select schools to which the students could be transferred.

Latest updates (December 2017 and January 2018)
In December, Joseph and Lydia met parents/guardians at BDA and explained the situation to them. They also spent time selecting the most appropriate schools for our secondary scholars. Consequently, we’re delighted to report we’ve found suitable school places.

  • Vanessa Grant Girls High school have accepted 22 girls, following interview.
  • The Sacred Heart High School for boys have accepted 18 boys after interviews.
  • Pangani Girls School will take 2 students and Moi Girls High will be taking 1 student.
  • We’re confident that each school will give the scholars an even better student experience as they’re larger, better established and have more extensive facilities.
  • Joseph has negotiated a level of fees only slightly higher than the present, meaning we don’t have to raise fees for sponsors, as our reserves will be sufficient to manage any additional costs over the remaining 5 years for all current students, including those currently in BDA Primary, to reach the end of their secondary education.
  • Consequently, Simon has been hard at it, over the Christmas and New Year season, making the necessary financial arrangements for the transfers to each school.
  • The students started at their new schools, early in January and we (well Lydia really) has ensured they all had the uniforms and other necessaries.
  • Chairman John has written a personal letter to all students, on behalf of KES Trustees, wishing them well and promising KES’s continued support for their education.
  • Each new school is in the Nakuru area and Lydia will be making regular visits to ensure the students are not experiencing problems and we’re establishing a welfare fund that can be used for pocket money and other issues that the students can draw on such as needing to replace broken glasses.
  • Simon and John have booked a due diligence trip to Kenya in March to visit the schools and scholars.
Finally, as you’ll gather this has been a challenging and busy time for all involved, but we do hope you agree with us that this is actually a really good outcome that synchronises the need to close BDA Secondary with the necessary, eventual winding up of KES. Primarily, it’s good news for our KES scholars and we, as always, promise to keep you fully informed of next steps.

Thanks for all your support,

KES Trustees