“So,” we asked, “if Kenyans sacrifice to
pay for school fees, uniforms, and materials for institutionalized education,
why don’t they just go to the Gigamart
and buy a few books instead?” They can
school at home too!
One problem is that here, poverty is
the rule rather than the exception. People
truly work for their “daily bread,” which
might only be tea for breakfast and ugali
Many don’t have the extra money to pay
for transportation into town, even if they
wanted to buy the books.
And what if they somehow got the
money? We’ve found that the available
to accompany direct instruction, but
“teacher’s manuals” aren’t available; it’s
the schoolteacher’s job to teach, after all.
Granted, our littles now use workbooks,
and I simply demonstrate what is needed
for each exercise, but here, many parents
are uneducated. How can they teach their
children something they don’t know?
We said, “Learn along with your children!” Simple, right? Not really—
illiteracy rates are high here among the older
If they can’t read, how can they learn?
And how do they learn to read? We suggested that parents could form a kind of
colonial-style “dame school,” in which
moms who could read and write could
teach those who don’t.
Trouble is, there is a lot of social pressure to support institutional education,
since it is viewed as a means to escape
poverty, and you can’t blame folks for
wanting a better life for their children. In
our community, people eke out an existence on their shambas;(farms),;mainly
growing maize and beans, though some
have small shops in which they sell goods
or services. Granted, this is an excellent
opportunity for them to pass valuable life
skills on to their children and to teach
them to provide for themselves, but is
that a realistic expectation?
We know firsthand the reality of hard
labor in Kenya. Few have electricity or
running water. Merely learning to fetch
water daily was a growth experience for
our children. With ten of us in our family, we use an amazing amount of water,
and it takes no small amount of time to
trek to the local spring, fill and carry a
5-gallon jug, and go back for more!
Food preparation is equally difficult
without labor-saving electrical devices
that are taken for granted in the U.S. Rice,
are all taken right from the field to the
local markets and need to be sorted and
cleaned in order to remove rocks, sticks,
bugs, and dirt before being used. The girls
and I often spend an hour or more a day
Kenya is not a vibrant
reality today, we
believe there is great
hope for the future.
doing this type of labor. Likewise, farming
is done by hand with large jembes;(hoes),
not gas-operated tractors and tillers.
When parents have to work so tirelessly just to provide daily sustenance, can
they truly be expected to homeschool?
It’s hard to say, “Yes.” Though we are able
to do it, it was a big adjustment at first,
and as time has passed, we’ve become,
quite frankly, pretty spoiled compared
to the local folks. Many tools to ease
our daily burdens arrived in our crate—
including a rototiller, a solar panel and
inverter, and my beloved Bosch mixer.
We’ve also installed a well, and therefore
water-fetching has been removed from
our daily to-do list too.
We felt like we sacrificed a lot to come
to Kenya and live among the locals, but
there is still quite a chasm between “us”
and “them.” So for all of our encouragement to others to consider homeschooling, the daily realities of life in Kenya create quite a few barriers to experiencing
successful home education.
Public education, however, is still developing here. As has happened in the
U.S., we believe that in not too many
years, more people will see the pitfalls of
the “system” and will grow in their desire
to bring their children home where they
belong, and because there is currently
such an emphasis on education, the
next generation of parents will be literate, more advanced in their learning, and
able to successfully homeschool.
While we are here, we continue to
provide encouragement for folks in our
community, and we desire to be for them
an example of not just how to home-
school, but why—for the glory of God
and the preservation of generations of
faithful followers of Jesus Christ. Please
join us in praying for our brothers and
sisters here in East Africa—that they may
be equipped for this good work and may
embrace it as a lifestyle. Pray also that
government would continue to provide
homeschooling freedoms for parents
who desire to make this choice. Though
homeschooling in Kenya is not a vibrant
reality today, we believe there is great
hope for the future.
Cynthia Carrier is a homeschooling mom
to eight children; their family is currently on the mission field in Kenya. Follow
their daily adventures, challenges, and
triumphs at ValuesDrivenFamily.com.
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audios, book excerpts, and more. Find
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Kingdom-Driven Ministries at kingdom