The Girls Are Off to Math Camp!

By Eurie Hwang

This August, Villitracia, Triza, and Peris will be off to spend a week at the Maseno University Maths Camp. They have a month-long break in August and jumped at this opportunity to immerse themselves in mathematics, which two of them consider their most challenging course.

The most exciting detail of this announcement is that for the first time in their lives, the girls will be able to explore outside Nakuru. The camp takes place on a university campus, which is a good way to encourage the girls to think about higher education. There is nothing better for expanding their knowledge than the gift of travel! They will be chaperoned by a math teacher from their boarding school, Christ the King Secondary school.

The annual Maseno Maths Camp will be held on 18th – 24th August in Maseno, Kenya, which is about five hours from Nakuru. Both Kenyan and international mathematics teachers will help the students learn new concepts with the latest mathematical software. One of the main goals of the camp is to make math more accessible and beneficial for girls to pursue. They will experience an environment charged with technologies that may not be available in their hometowns.

It is especially important for Kenyan girls to be exposed to camps such as Maths Camp because of the misconception that males are naturally better at math than females. Of course, such bias exists around the globe including the States. A 2009 study by American Society for Quality (ASQ) showed, only five percent of girls ages 8-17 expressed interest in an engineering career compared to the 24 percent of boys who expressed interest. An early introduction to the values of math may motivate the girls to break through this cultural bias.

The cost of camp is $50 for participants from the East African community and covers boarding, food, and camp instruction. Villantricia, Triza, and Peris’ costs are covered by the generosity of St. Paul’s Academic Scholarship’s donors like you. Thank you!

For more information about Maths Camp, visit their website.

Kenyan Teachers Strike For Increased Pay

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An empty classroom at St. Paul’s Primary School. More pictures

By Eurie Hwang

The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) entered its third week of nationwide strike over increased allowances. They demand the new government implement the $552 million-pay deal the teachers union signed with previous governments. Since they began their strike on June 25, public primary and secondary school classrooms remain empty of students. This includes St. Paul’s Primary School in Nakuru, the former primary school of sponsored students Vilitracia, Triza, and Peris.

Difficulties amounting to a fair negotiation ignited heated threats by the Education Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi.

“If you abandon duty, you will be deemed to have absconded and appropriate disciplinary action will be taken in line with the law,” said Kaimenyi.

The KNUT, saying such threats were made in the past with no consequences, is not taking his threats seriously.

“Teachers went on strike with a purpose and that purpose has not yet been achieved. Do you expect us to go back to class?” said KNUT’s Second Vice National Chairman Wycliffe Omucheyi.

Their reasons may be just but the children need them in class. Every day, many students return home after arriving at school and finding classrooms still empty.

“The teachers should be reasonable because the children are really suffering out here. They are not reading and in the end there is going to be an examination [KCPE, the end of primary school exam] which they might fail,” said a parent whose child attends a public school.

The KNUT was successful in staging another crippling three-week strike last year for increased salary.

Weeks without class are one of the difficulties faced by the public school students in Kenya. The three students we are sponsoring scored well on their end of primary school exam despite last year’s strike and other impediments. They now attend a private Catholic school and so are not affected by the strike.