Factors contributing to Poor Academic Performance of Children in Need: A Case Study of SOS Children's Village ELDORET
SOS Children’s Villages Canada is a non-political and non-denominational charity
registered in Canada with Registration Number 13824
7259 RR0001. SOS Children’s Villages operates in more than 130 countries and has
more than 60 years experience in caring for the world’s most vulnerable
children. SOS Children’s Villages won the 2002 Hilton Humanitarian Prize and
have been nominated 14 times for the Nobel Peace Prize. The Mission Statement
of the charity organization is:
SOS Children's Villages provides children in need with a caring, loving, and secure family environment where basic needs for food, health, shelter, and education are met.
SOS Children's Villages creates opportunities for children to become responsible, contributing members of society by providing Villages and community support where stable, nurturing homes exist to meet family, social, emotional, physical, and spiritual needs of children.
SOS Children’s Village was founded in 1949 by an Austrian medical student, Hermann Gmeiner, who witnessed the suffering of many orphaned and abandoned children after WWII. Thus the idea for SOS Children’s Villages came to be.
These Villages provide permanent family homes for children who might otherwise have been forgotten - innocent victims of family breakdowns, war, disease, or natural disasters. Each child receives the loving care of an extensively trained SOS parent within the secure environment of a family home with brothers and sisters. Natural siblings always remain together. The combined support of each child's family and the entire SOS Children's Village community ensures that their basic needs for food, shelter, health, and education are met in a safe and caring environment. Children are raised in SOS Children's Villages with the respect, guidance and support that all children need and deserve to become healthy, happy and productive adults. In addition to raising more than 78,000 children in its Villages, SOS also strives to strengthen the communities in which it operates. Hundreds of SOS kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, vocational training centers, medical and dental clinics and family counseling and social centers have been constructed and operate around the world and benefit another 950,000 children and families. SOS Children's Villages Canada was established in 1969 as a fundraising arm for the international work of SOS Children's Villages.
SOS Children’s Villages International works in conjunction with the United Nations, the European Union & Council of Europe, as well as several NGO Groups. Since 1995, SOS Children’s Villages has been granted “special consultative status” by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the UN. This allows them to participate in UN meetings and submit proposals to ECOSOC. Other UN agencies and programmes they are associated with include the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNIFCEF), the UN Human Rights Council, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, The UN Development Programme (UNDP) , the World Food Programme (WFP), and the UN Department for Public Information (DPI). The organization possesses a participatory status with the Council of Europe which enables them to join with the work of the international NGO’s with the Council of Europe. SOS Children’s Villages has a permanent framework contract with the Humanitarian Aid Office of the European Commission (ECHO) which lets them work with ECHO in emergency relief programmes in certain countries. They are also a member of Voluntary Organizations in Co-operation in Emergencies (VOICE) and a full member of Eurochild.
The SOS Children’s Village Eldoret was opened in 1 March, 1995. Eldoret is located near the Ugandan border in the Uasin Gishu District, some 380 km North-West of Nairobi, Kenya. Eldoret has a population of about 70,000 which makes it the fifth largest town in Kenya. An unprecedented boom was caused by the recent settlement of several large industrial businesses in greater Eldoret. The subsequent influx of people from the neighboring regions searching for jobs led to a rise in the number of children in need. This sparked the construction of an SOS Children's Village in Eldoret in 1988.
(SOS Children’s Villages) The SOS Children's Village Eldoret lies four km from Eldoret, and consists of twelve family houses, a village director's house, a guest house, an administrative and service block, and a house for the so-called SOS Aunts (SOS Aunts take care of the children in case of an SOS Mother's absence).
In a newsletter about Child Sponsorship Report from 2010 it was reported:
On another positive note, academically the children have shown a marked improvement in their grades. The education department has continued to put in place learning programme that emphasis on follow-up and target setting per subject. This has enabled each child’s potential to be tapped and this is evident by the results we received last year for the 12 candidates who sat for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education. They did us proud by performing well and they have all been admitted to different secondary schools. Though children have performed well we still have a few who have educational needs and a programme that looks at the learning needs has been tailor made for them. (SOS Children’s Village)
The work SOS Children’s Village in Eldoret is exemplary. The achievements of the children show that with the correct support structures in place, children flourish and accomplish many things within this environment. On the 15th May, 2011, it was reported that there are some schools which have opened up especially for children with albinism. This makes it the second school in western Africa to have this policy.
According to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, it is estimated that 1.3 billion people live on less than US$ 1 per day. This number is growing steadily as civil wars, loss of employment and restructuring of societies are creating newly poor groups. Respect for human rights, meeting basic human needs and more equitable distribution of wealth, are clear priorities for the eradication of poverty. Ultimate success, however, will only be ensured when there is a willingness and commitment on the part of the non-poor to assist in the elimination of the human degradation which poverty creates.
How do we account for the difference in children's academic performance? Is something wrong with poor children and children of color - their genes or their families - that undermines their development and achievement? Of course not. While some children are at risk for abnormal development because of the deprivations inherent in living in poverty or in crisis-ridden families, most poor and minority children are developmentally normal and their families ably carry out the essential child rearing functions. Poor and minority children's range of adaptive and learning capabilities is as broad as other children's. The explanation for the differences in school performance lies in the difference in life experiences between groups - the worlds in which children of different cultural and socioeconomic groups live do not encourage the same beliefs and attitudes nor do they emphasize the same skills. By ignoring the differences between children - their experiences, their beliefs, their traditional practices - schools limit their own ability to educate these children. (Bowman) Children from poor and minority families have been judged to be inadequate because they do not already know nor do they easily learn the school curricula. Inadequate communication, inaccurate assessment, and inappropriate education are the inevitable results, with poor and minority children labeled as delayed and their families labeled as dysfunctional because they have different resources, lifestyles, and belief systems.
Schools often get blamed for the poor academic performance of their students. What needs to be realized is that there are external factors which contribute to doing poorly academically. Children who are hurting physically or mentally, those who are hungry, lack proper clothing, or live in unsafe environments are prone do doing badly in school.
By the time children are five years old, the vast majority have learned a great deal. They have reached "developmental competence" and "maturity," meaning that they have achieved the normative learning benchmarks of their community. They have mastered their home languages, established appropriate social relationships with their families and neighbors, learned a variety of category and symbol systems, and developed the ability to organize and regulate their own behavior in situations that are familiar to them. These benchmarks coordinate biological growth and social learning, and under ordinary circumstances children's knowledge and skills match those required in the social settings in which they live. (Bowman)
Sholes wrote that in his March, 2009 article, “Poverty and Potential: Out of School Factors and School Success,” David C. Berliner listed seven factors that are not related to school practices, but affect school performance in a negative way:
- low birth weight and non-genetic prenatal influences on children
- inadequate medical, dental, and vision care, often a result of little or no medical insurance
- food insecurity
- environmental pollutants
- family relations and family stress
- neighborhood characteristics
Sholes went on further to suggest the following to alleviate the effects of poverty on learning:
· reduce drug and alcohol abuse and violence
· provide safe home environments
· provide health care for all children
· increase time away from TV
· encourage reading
· eliminate hunger
· encourage children to attend school
Furthermore, there are 228 SOS Nurseries and 64 SOS Training Centers. Learning at school helps poor children grow up with a much better chance of earning their own living. SOS run schools where there is no adequate local education. Generally the schools are about 30% children that are cared for by SOS in a nearby Children’s Village and 70% other local children living with their family in the community. Where SOS can find local middle class families who are able to pay school fees, they try to include a similar number of this group as well, especially since the outcome in terms of eventual jobs etc for the school children is enhanced by mixing with children from more successful backgrounds. We also have projects for vocational training to help young adults improve their own standard of living. (SOS)
Since Kenya’s independence in 1963, Northern Kenya has arguably remained sidelined and marginalized. The region is generally underdeveloped as compared to the rest of the country. Sixty-four percent of the inhabitants live below the poverty line. The infrastructure is pitiable, with its more than 1800km road stretching from the capital Nairobi to Mandera in the north unbarred. More than ninety percent of households in the province have no access to power. There is a persistent lack of water and food in the area.
Poverty and illiteracy are typically concurrent and are synonymous with Northern
Kenya. The inhabitants who are mainly livestock keepers give less precedence to
education. The official illiteracy rate in the North Eastern region is
unbelievably at 92 per cent. Many people here have never had an opportunity to
go to school. The few lucky ones grapple with poverty and hopelessness. In Adow
Mohamed’s reportage on Africa News in 21 January, 2011, he brought to light the
extremes of poverty and illiteracy in Kenya.
“I withdrew my children from school because I could not afford to pay their school fees,” says Hassan Ali a resident of Wagberi village in Wajir.
The North Eastern Province endures acute shortages of learning institutions and relies heavily on poorly equipped government schools. Persistent droughts have not made the grave situation simpler as nomads withdraw students from schools to cater of the livestock.
Educational enrolment, retention and performance in Northern Kenya are significantly lower than the rest of the country. For example, primary enrolment in North Eastern Province is still below 30%.
“Even as the government subsidized the cost of secondary education in Kenya the situation is still too much to bear for many here,” states the district education officer, Abdi Goto. (Mohamed)
Esther Mwangi reports the following on her April 2004 article for News from Africa:
Even with the introduction of free primary education, access to it education is still remains a pipe dream to many Kenyan children. Whereas the introduction of free primary education last year saw an increase in the enrolment, a sizeable number of children, especially girls still find themselves out of school owing to a number of reasons.
James Mwangi, an inspector of primary schools revealed that most girls enter school at a late age because of the demand for their labor in their homes such as assisting in looking after their young siblings.
Some families in Kenya believe that women who have the same level of education as a man is a disgrace to the community and the result would be that the girl would not get married and if they do it will be to a foreigner. For people who have this belief, they encourage girls to get married young thereby preventing the educational dilemma and at the same time preserve Kenyan traditions.
The government has however taken some initiatives in the promotion of children’s education by enshrining this right in the Children’s Act, 2001. The Act also created a department for children to deal with their rights and welfare. Application of such laws as, imprisonment of any person found guilty of negligence in this case, knowingly and willfully causing a child to become in need of care and protection has helped towards the promotion of the children’s right to education. According to Section 127 of the Children’s Act 2001, “any person found guilty of negligence is liable for a maximum of five years’ imprisonment or a fine of a sum not exceeding KES 200000 or both fine and imprisonment”. The government, in collaboration with NGOs has also established centers where girls rescued from early marriage are accommodated and counseled, before being sent back to school. Through strict intervention of the government there is hope for the children who have been out of school to pursue their lifelong dreams. (Mwangi)
In Kenya, there are currently three SOS Schools and four SOS Nurseries. These facilities provide education to children from SOS Villages and from the wider community. Staff members are well trained and the resources available to students are of a high standard.
The SOS Nursery at Eldoret has around 120 children, most coming from the local community and around 25 from our SOS village.
· In the autumn the nursery holds an open day where parents have the chance to see their children’s work and discuss their progress.
· The highlight of the year is usually the colorful “graduation ceremony” when the older children dress to celebrate the completion of their nursery years and moving on to the primary school.
The SOS Primary and Secondary School at Eldoret has around 500 students in the primary section and nearly 100 in the secondary, though it is hoped to increase secondary enrolment over time.
· Examination results at the school are generally high, with most classes achieving their target pass marks. And recently, greater effort has been put into children whose performance is below average, with extra holiday classes being held for those who need further lessons.
· The school takes great pride in its range of extra-curricular activities, which include music, drama, football and science. Children are encouraged to take part in regional and provincial-level competitions such as the Kenya Music Festival, the regional Drama competition and the Aspire Africa football tournament.
Bowman, Barbara T. Cultural Diversity and Academic Achievement. North Central Regional Educational Laboratory. Retrieved 18 May, 2011 from http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/educatrs/leadrshp/le0bow.htm
Mohamed, Adow. Biting Poverty affects north Kenya Education. Africa News. 21 January, 2011. Retrieved 18 May, 2011 from http://www.africanews.com/site/Biting_poverty_affects_north_Kenya_education/list_messages/37106
Mwangi, Esther. Girl child education remains elusive. News from Africa. April 2004. Retrieved 18 May, 2011 from http://www.newsfromafrica.org/newsfromafrica/articles/art_4400.html
Sholes, De Lene. Poverty and Academic Performance. Out of School Factors that Affect Student Achievement. 21 September, 2009. Retrieved on 18 May, 2011 from http://www.suite101.com/content/poverty-and-academic-performance-a151085
SOS Children’s Villages International. Our Organization. Retrieved 18 May, 2011 from http://www.sos-childrensvillages.org/About-us/Pages/default.aspx
UNESCO. Education and Poverty Eradication. Retrieved 18 May, 2011 from http://www.unesco.org/education/poverty/index.shtml
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