EAEA GRUNDTVIG AWARD 2017. A combination of agricultural and literacy skills can lead to an improvement in the quality of life. The winner of the EAEA Grundtvig Award 2017 in the international projects category, Ndarugu Community Learning Centre in Kenya, offers an example on how it’s done.
The article series shares good practices on engaging new learners by introducing the nominees of the EAEA Grundtvig Award 2017.
Julius Mochu from the Ndarugu Community Learning Centre accepting the award in Girona. One the right, the Mayor of Girona, Marta Madrenas i Mir.
Ndarugu Community Learning Centre in Kenya, started as a literacy initiative that aimed to eradicate illiteracy in Kenya. Once many of the learners taking part in the literacy courses of the centre had attained basic literacy skills, the centre started to ponder on how to support them in raising their standard of living, tells Julius Mochu, the coordinator of the learning centre.
“We wanted to support people in improving their living conditions and to have a decent life.”
The centre developed a new approach, encouraging adults to continue learning after gaining basic literacy skills. The centre provides courses in order to teach new agricultural practices. One of the priority skills taught today is beekeeping. The instructors come from the sub-county extension offices and hold seminars and workshops with the learners every other week.
By incorporating beekeeping skills in the curriculum the project wanted to help generate self-employment. To maintain the new learners in the classroom they learn new agricultural practices. Beekeeping is one of the priorities to the learners.
Julius Mochu harvesting honey at the beekeeping farm.
Some challenges also occurred. One of the challenges to overcome was to encourage adults to continue learning once they had gained basic literacy skills. Some learners didn’t see the point in coming to classes instead of trying to find work, to get money.
“We had to make them understand that education can help them earn money and that learning beekeeping can be profitable to them. In the end, many learners realised that learning the skills and bringing up the hives together to sell them was beneficial to them. Many have also been able to find work since.”
One of the learners taking part in the project is Mary Muthoni, 39.
“My sister and I never went to school. We took care of goats and sheep. After going to Ndarugu Literacy Centre, I can now write letters to my sister. I want to learn computer skills next.”
In 2016, the bee hives of the community produced over 100 kilos of honey.
The programme not only increased self-employment, but also became a community place where different social functions are now organised: parties, camping, weekend activities. It thus creates social interactions and strengthens the ties in the community.
Organizations also do their team building exercises and workshop there. On weekends, prayers and personal medication are held at the Centre. Thanks to this, the number of learners has significantly increased since the beginning of the project.
The centre also maintains a library. The library promotes a reading culture to the learners. The learners borrow the books and return them after every two weeks.
“The library is open to everyone. Also many children come to the library,” Julius Mochu rejoices.
The Grundtvig Award jury appreciated the fact that the project goes beyond literacy and engages the community in a long-term perspective.
Julius Mochu at the EAEA Annual Conference.
Text: Helka Repo
Photos: Helka Repo, Ndarugu Community Learning Centre