The Kimilili Trust
small projects for big improvements

Projects - Nursery Education

The main focus of The Kimilili Trust in 2009 was nursery education. The Kenyan Government had given grants to most of the primary schools in our area for building upkeep. Accordingly the trustees have decided to spend most of its income this year on a sector of education which was and is still largely unfunded:- nursery education, or as it is called in Kenya, early childhood development (ECD).

In the area where we work the young children come to nursery classes speaking Bukussu but in the younger classes of the primary school they are taught Swahili which is the teaching language. In later years the children are taught English which in secondary school becomes the teaching medium for most lessons.

Nursery education – ECD – is usually morning only and it is quite common to see children from about three years old, sometimes accompanied by older brothers or sisters of five or six years of age, walking one, two or three kilometres across fields and along lanes without adult supervision. They stay in class all morning and are commonly given a lunch of ugali ( a maize based porridge with the consistency of thick wallpaper paste but sometimes diluted down to a thickish drink with additional water or milk) before setting off, usually on their own, for the walk home. The ECD teachers, whilst under the direction of the primary school headteacher to which their facility is attached, are not employed by the government but by the governors of each school and parents pay an amount to cover their salary and also the cost of the meal.


This mixed primary school currently has a nursery facility attached to the main school building. It is a room about 10 ft by 10 ft and was probably designed as a store room. In the picture it is at the end jutting out to the left.The original building was put up by RC missionaries – as were many primary schools in Kenya – we think about 80 years ago. Since then it has been owned and managed by the government but until recentlythere has been no funding for repairs or extensions. These have been financed by local villagers on what the government called a “cost sharing” basis.

Picture 1 – ECD classroom at Namboani
Picture 1a -The new Namboani nursery building financed by the
parents and The Kimilili Trust


In 2009 the government gave grants to primary schools for building work. That was why we turned to nursery education – which was and is still largely unfunded. We had already helped the local community served by Namboani school to build four additional classrooms for their main primary school and the new ECD building was built by the same people. This building was unusual in that it was designed to serve a double purpose, being the first classroom, albeit temporary, of the new secondary school. When the secondary school proper is underway the building will become the nursery class.

We said to the school that we were looking for a light and airy classroom with a verandah and windows looking out both ways. We also said that we would like the eight of the windows to be such that very young children could see out - quite a change from the old provision characterised by no real windows at all!

We also felt it needed a store room and a teachers’ room (maybe the same space) and a small kitchen for the preparation of the lunch.

Picture 2: New classroom block at Namboani

The staircase at one end shows that the school stands on a slight hill, actually near the top.

Nasioya Salvation Army School

This school is a mixed primary school originally founded by the Salvation Army. It was founded more recently than Namboani and when we first saw it, some five years ago, it had two classes being taught out in the open. We decided there and then to help the community provide these two classes with proper accommodation. There were various issues about the ownership of the land and the purchase of an additional field but last summer, in 2008, we were able to open thedouble classroom block that enable all the primary age children to have an indoor space.

Picture 3: Open air class at Nasioya

Picture 4: Another open air class at Nasioya

The ECD provision at Nasioya was little more than a shelter. The pictures tell the story. Encouraged by what we had done with the local community, the parents decided to build a new nursery class but they ran out of money – this is one of the many poor rural communities in the farming area around Kimilili - so it was no surprise that their dreams foundered on the rocks of reality. We decided to help them complete this and with our assistance they produced the building shown below which is light, airy and has water harvesting.

Picture 5: the new classrom block at Nasioya

Picture 6: ECD provision at Nasioya

Picture 7: ECD children at Nasioya

Picture 8: The ECD kitchen at Nasioya

Picture 9: The partially built ECD block at Nasioya

Picture 10: ECD children at Nasioya

Picture10a: ECD building at Nasioya Salvation Army School - Looks unpromising from the outside but works very well from the inside!

Picture 10b: Inside of Nasioya SA Nursery - Light and airy and all achieved without windows - just a few bricks omitted in the construction in a lattice arrangement


This is a mixed primary school which was originally a Roman Catholic foundation. When we first saw this school it was on a very small narrow strip of land that was just about sufficient for the “wattle and daub” construction being used for teaching. The reputation of the school had grown, free primary education had just started and the school was filled to bursting point. As there was no room to expand the school was sub-dividing the classrooms. But this made very small rooms for up to 60 to 100 children.

Then grants from the government and the local constituency dramatically improved matters. The school acquired land and new buildings were erected. The ECD building, though, remained inadequate and the parents and The Kimilili Trust resolved to build a new classroom. This can be seen below in the picture labelled 12a

Picture 11: ECD at Sibakala

Picture 12: Inside the ECD class at Sibakala

Picture 12a: The new ECD building at Sibakala

Picture12 (above) shows the earthen floor of the old ECD building. It had a largish hole about 12 or 15 inches deep. We said that if a two or three year old child dropped into it – as it easily could have done if left to its own devices – then it was doubtful if it could have climbed out unaided or uninjured.

As a consequence the children spent most of their day out in the sun in a space with little or no protection from the weather – and remember we are within a few miles of the equator.

Of course Sibakala is only one of many schools in the situation it is in. Slowly with help we try to work with communities to improve things.

One of the most improved schools in 2008 – as measured by the area league tables – was Kitayi school and we try to visit schools that show improvement and encourage them. When we visited Kitayi we were impressed with the organisation of the school, with the governors and that the headteacher knew his priorities. Having shown us around he said that a priority for him was furniture for the ECD class. This we agreed to provide and we sent him the money for this.

Picture 13:- open air ECD class at Sibakala

Picture 14: The ECD class at Kitayi

The Headteacher asked us how children can learn to form their numbers and letters using their thigh as a desk.!!

Picture 15: The Nursery at Lurare Baptist School
This is another school in which we are interested.

Picture 16: Children on their way to school

Picture 17: Kimilili village centre

In 2010 and succeeding years The Kimilili Trust will continue working with schools on water harvesting projects which we are told by headteachers are reducing cases of typhoid and cholera in the area, possibly with the desk project (if headteachers wish it) which offers desks on an annual basis to reward schools that show the most improvement in the area, and the Daisy Project which helps in a small way to provide sustenance for poor and orphaned children. As part of the Daisy Project the Trust started a few years ago a Revolving Chicken Project in which three chickens are loaned to poor families, with three hatchlings returned to the committee. Further details of this can be found elsewhere on the website.

In addition The Trust will undoubtedly continue to respond to unexpected calls for help as it has done in the past.

In past years The Trust has responded to imaginative schemes by innovative headteachers by supporting the building in one school of a library and the connection to the main electricity supply for another so that computer work could be started.

In 2008 the Trust bought reading books for a girls’ primary school and also gardening tools both to teach useful skills and to provide some assistance to the many orphans in that school. In 2010 more help was given to schools with gardening projects as this equips the pupils with skills they will need in their future life.

Picture 18: Map of Kenya indicating position of Kimilili

buttons by

UK Charity Number 1106889
(c) Copyright The Kimilili Trust, 2009