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.

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