Coaching in Kenya – Conclusions
Coaching conversations were held impromptu with the key school leaders and teachers on staff. We discussed their needs and wants (supplies), the overall goal (obtain a sufficient amount of relevant books and supplies and well-paid teachers), the current resources (primarily government provided but severely lacking) and what was promised to be supplied by other non-profits and NGOs – what was in the works already.
Upon asking, "What do you want?", the typical answer was, "facilities". But by facilities they don’t mean classrooms and other buildings, they mean pencils, papers and other supplies. Many well-meaning aid organizations do donate supplies, but many of them cannot be used – they do not fit the educational needs of the children. For example, when I commented on the two dozen new textbooks on the shelves of the school staff room, the headmaster said that while he was grateful for the generous donation, they unfortunately cannot be used since they do not fit the school curriculum. The "books" the children learned from resembled torn up, odd shaped magazines. Similarly, a large, well-known computer company donated a bunch of computers one year to a Samburu village, not realizing that they have no electricity, let alone know the least bit of how to operate one. They were promptly thrown into the river.
Questioning and really listening allowed the Kenyans to say what it is they need, versus donors providing what they think they need. Kenyans say and actually do "get by just fine" and that is their typical first response as "what do you want or need?" Digging deeper reveals this is not the case. So the teachers were encouraged not to be shy to ask for what they really need rather than just being grateful for whatever they get (that they may not be able to use for their required curriculum).
Once the teachers and staff have a platform to speak, the potential donors must listen openly, without thinking in reference to what they already have or people they know who want to help, without determining if they possess the meaningful skills and relevant supplies to fit the Kenyans’ needs. It is also important that the organizations helping Kenyans coordinate their efforts so there is no duplication of efforts. At one of the ministry-based schools, there was an abundance of church volunteers here and abroad that often provide the same service or type of donation, in addition to government assistance. Next steps were discussed with the Hartmann Dadas so they know where to go from here in continuing to focus their efforts on the specific needs of each of the schools they want to help, and in what specific ways.