March 2021

Our Students

The covid-19 pandemic changed all our lives in many ways. We had to adjust our social behaviors in unforeseen circumstances, and all we can see and feel is fear and distress calls. It is a very difficult space to be in for families, schools, and communities in this Covid-19 pandemic times. Schools re-opened their doors to students and learning resumed from where it left off. Burning the midnight oil has been the only option available as teachers walk through the syllabus with the students and ensure what is to be covered by the duration given is completed as scheduled. The same students that closed school last year are not the same students that came back, influenced by social issues.

The community schools that we partner with continue to show strength and resilience. When schools re-opened in Kenya on January 4th, 2021, there was a lot of uncertainty from everyone, wondering how will learning resume? How will the health status of students be? How will parents provide the school fees since the majority had experienced pay cuts and layoffs? How will students behave because this had been the longest school break in history? Indeed, the reality presented multiple questions and answers.

Learning Continues in Community Schools 2021

 To try to mitigate this uncertainty among our community partner schools, Big Picture Learning Kenya Trust initiated a program called ‘Fursa Mpya’ a Swahili word that means ‘new opportunity’; the program is a Covid-19 response concept that is wired towards helping schools get back on their feet and serve their students efficiently. The government of Kenya had laid out requirements to be met before schools re-opened. They had to have hand washing stations, soaps, thermometers to monitor the temperature of students daily, and lastly the required social distance amenities in classrooms.

Big Picture Learning Trust was able to provide handwashing stations, soaps, face masks, classroom seats, and thermos guns, to 5 partner & affiliate schools: Zeal Covenant, Excel High school, Divine Mercy School, Tabasamu Watoto Center, and High-link Education Center. These actions are in line with our organization’s values: Courage, Curiosity, Collaboration and Creativity. I am proud of the schools we serve for they have shown courage in adversity, maintained teamwork in feeding the curiosity of students, collaborating in finding possible solutions towards arising challenges and being creative in stepping out of the ordinary to remain sane. 

I leave you with a quote: “Even after this time the sun never says to the earth, you owe me. Look what happens with a love like that it lights the whole sky”. May we never get tired of doing good.

Written by: Cris Oyola 19-3-2021

ALUMNI ENGAGEMENT Network: January 2021

Big Picture Learning Kenya Trust continues to serve the community and in January 2021, the organization launched a new program launched ‘Alumni Engagement’ which focuses on having some active Alumni give back to the community using the skills they have learned throughout the program during their high school years.

Dennis Keya & his Grade Four students

The Alumni come from different schools that B.P.L.K.T. has partnered with, the first five cleared high school in 2019 and due to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic their learning goals and plans were put to a halt. In 2021 their spirits were re-ignited and all engaged in different learning opportunities. These energetic young men and women namely Collins Obilah, Dennis Keya, Paul Omondi, Joyce Adhiambo, and Sharon Khavulani have continued to take active roles and the organization is dedicated to supporting them fully. 

Sharon Khavulani, BPLKT
Paul Omondi, BPLKT

One of the most recent engagement has been the implementation of the ‘Girl Rising’ program which is aimed at using the power of storytelling to change the shift on gender myths, and biases that exists among communities. The program is implemented in five schools targeting both boys and girls in the school.

 Some of the activities the alumni are engaged in includes preparing the session rooms, transportation of session equipment, note-taking during the session in schools, and finally reporting on the weeks’ activities. Due to many reports required in the Girl Rising program, B.P.L.K.T staff members work collaboratively with the alumnus to complete this giving them a learning opportunity. In every engagement the students undertake in a week, the organization provides a token of appreciation in form of a stipend, which helps facilitate their transport, lunch, and savings course which they use for various needs. The alumni are also involved in other side jobs that helps them earn a living. Dennis Keya is a primary school teacher, Collins Obila volunteers in a church mission where he supports with facilitation and other logistics; and was recently promoted to the Assistant Program Coordinator. Paul Omondi works as a security personnel and also is partly volunteering as a field electrical engineer working under a professional electrical engineer mentor. Joyce Odhiambo is on her final exams course in culinary services she plans to work towards owning her own restaurant. Sharon Khavulani is yet to join college but is actively involved in her poetry talent, she recently did a great poem for her mom during the International Day of the Women 2021. You can watch the video on our social media via this link

BPLKT is proud of the growth shown by the Alumni in their personal goal settings skills, e.g they have been saving the stipend allocated to them and using it for a great course. Joyce Adhiambo has been saving towards offsetting her college fee balance. Paul Omondi has been saving towards getting a mobile phone to help build his social circle as he learns and grows under his electrical engineering mentor. Dennis Keya who has recently joined a driving school is saving towards paying his driving course in full.

Big Picture Learning programs are designed to help learners continue bringing change outside the classroom into the world. We have observed a lot of growth in student’s behaviors such as discipline, good grooming, respect, and improved Public speaking skills. This puts them at a competitive position to in the job market and have better chances of succeeding in their lives. This is what we seek to achieve.

Written by Christine Aseso 23-3-2021

GIRL RISING Program Implementation

Last year we piloted the Girl Rising program at Divine Mercy School, Kangemi, which was a success despite the myriad of challenges our team and students encountered during the pandemic. When schools opened this year, we were doubtful of our chances to implement the program due to the predetermined school calendar set by the Ministry of Education. The first term was short, which required schools to operate on a very tight schedule. Remarkably, our partner schools expressed enthusiasm in the Girl Rising program, and on 05th February 2021, we conducted our first session. Currently, we are working with six schools located in three communities: Kangemi, Kawangware, and Kibera. One of the schools that we are working with is called Tabasamu Watoto Inclusive Centre. It is a community-based organization dedicated to improving education and opportunities for the children from Kibera and currently runs as a preschool. The students we have in our sessions from Tabasamu Watoto Inclusive Centre are students from the Kibera community and not the school. We have four special needs students at Tabasamu. None of these learners has ever missed a session. Big Picture Learning is implementing the program as an extracurricular activity called the Girl Rising Club. This approach guarantees the sustainability of the program long after program implementation.

Photo of students at Tabasamu Watching a Girl Rising film

Our students find this curriculum exciting. The film story modules have activities that heighten learner participation in class. We have covered two out of the six-story modules so far and reached a total of 1,699 girls and 1,184 boys. The first story we covered was about a girl called Ruksana who lives in India. She highlighted issues of homelessness, slums, street children, poverty, and gender-based violence. Gender-based violence stood out in our class discussions among our current cohort. Students asked so many questions on the issue. They probed solutions, types of abuse, avenues to report gender-based violence cases, and safe houses available in the community. We also observed that some students were not aware of what gender-based violence is. To track learners’ understanding, we introduced session evaluations for each completed story. This has helped assess comprehension and identifying areas that would benefit our learners. The topics are around some of the challenges our students have experienced and consequently negatively affected their education. They include coping mechanisms and mental health, sexual and reproductive health, and emotional intelligence. As schools close, we will be facilitating sessions in three schools. The Big Picture team is working on expertly respond to the issues raised by learners. Big Picture aims to cover some of these areas during the professional development workshops during the April break. These sessions are scheduled to resume on 6th April 2021. 

We are already observing a change of attitude in some of our students based on their reflections and how they respond to questions. 

Rianna Mutanu (pictured above) is a class six student at Zeal Covenant who shared that ” I feel accepted, compared to separate programs I attended in the past, our mentorship grants students’ equal chances to share their thoughts. I am learning a lot in the program, for example, I didn’t know both girls and boys are equal and have equal rights.”

Grace Betty a student at Tabasamu opined, “I am learning a lot, particularly on gender issues. I didn’t know boys too are victims of GBV. Learning how education can transform my community has motivated me to excel in my studies. I am learning important values and qualities that I intend to practice henceforth. The issues of street children and homelessness were sad. I now understand that although I am young, my support and my input matter too. This program has helped me grow my self-esteem. I can stand up for myself. I now believe in myself more and, I understand situations better” 

George Brian a student at Tabasamu opined, “These sessions are teaching me to be respectful and act responsibly. Most of the challenges in the films are like what we experience here in Kibera. Our teacher taught us to constantly identify solutions to the difficulties we experience and not stay silent on issues. Before our sessions, I didn’t know child labor and Gender-Based Violence is wrong because in my community it is not deemed a problem.”

 We look forward to seeing all learners develop an effective gender-responsive attitude!

Our New Site

Welcome to our new site, which promises to be much easier for us to keep up with. There’s a Donate button on every page and we now know how to tend our content ourselves. And the most exciting part is that we will be training a young person in Kenya to be the intern learning to take care of the site themselves.