#Ed10Chat \o/

Today’s meet up was fantastic. A curious group, a hot topic, learning all round. Check out the hashtag on Twitter and take part in the conversation.

The next one will be about low fee schools in Kenya and their place. Spread the word; I look forward to seeing you there! :):):)


The February Edition of #Ed10Chat

Happens tomorrow. It would have happened on the last Thursday of February but couldn’t for a host of reasons. I’m excited about  it because we’ll be discussing something I am curious and, in a way, passionate about.

I have been thinking lately about framing education as what I see it as: a phenomenon at the confluence of numerous policies (land, tax, energy &c). In this case, this falls at the intersection of food policy and the provision of education facilities. Around the world, states feed a number of children over lunch – and sometimes breakfast – and I’m keen to learn more about how this works in Kenya.

Just yesterday, my favourite Portuguese speaker sent me this link about the African Day of the School Meal and Nestle’s involvement in Angola. It was a strange, yet sensible, discovery for me. I’ve always thought of school feeding as the province of national government and players such as WFP. This article is just one of the many points of conversation tomorrow; I hope you can attend it. Get your ticket here if you haven’t yet and see you then.



Gender + Education

I just came from a wonderful session on the place of gender in the ongoing curriculum reforms. I feel heady because of all the possibilities available to us.

As a founder of the Ed10 Consortium, this issue
is close to my heart. It’s telling the the two times I’ve been out after 7pm this week, I’ve been at an education-related forum (Spire Education’s monthly EdTech forum yesterday & the Heinrich Boll Foundation’s event today).

I feel certain things about education (and I’ve shared my vision on this very blog) and today it hit me that I need to give some thought to the question of gender in the delivery of education. This is something to share with the rest of the Ed10 Community, of course, but also one to meditate upon.

Another thing that happened today: I spoke clearly before people about my work & the community Ed10 has built up in the year it has been in existence. I think one Priyanka DeSouza would be proud; I have her and the wonderful people at Ed10 who have motivated me to get past my anxieties to thank.


Talking School Feeding

Early next month, we’ll be talking about school feeding at #Ed10Chat. We’ll be holding it in the first Thursday for a change at the iHub.

School feeding is a significant issue in Kenya and at the last #Ed10Chat, it kept cropping up. If you’ve been to these meetings, you know that we usually get the next meeting’s topic as we conclude the meeting so this is pretty community-driven.

This is an issue close to my heart and I’ll let you know as soon as we (Laila Le Guen and I) have an Eventbrite page up. Before then, please block out the 3rd of March from 6-8pm. Let’s meet at the iHub on that day!


Got skills?

The wonderful Priyanka deSouza took me to Kibera today. Calm down, everyone, I’ve been there before. We went to Kibera Girls’ Soccer Academy (KGSA) in Makina Village to pitch Raspberry Pis (if you’ve met Priyanka, you know she’s Pi-mad) to the kids. While there, we learnt a lot about the genesis of the school, the kids it educates, and all the things they get up to.

The KGSA high school has skills training on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons in a bid to equip the girls with tools for life after school. They train them in art, tech, photography, journalism, catering, martial arts, drama and much more besides.

Here’s where you come in: They would love to have more skilled people volunteer their time and skills to the groups they have (form new ones, even!) and it might be a fantastic opportunity for people with a wide variety of skills to pass them on.

These kids are brilliant; they shoot films, learn how to code, make money from photography that supports the school, draw, paint, make meals, box, act, you name it. If you have these skills, or skills you’re itching to share, get in touch with KGSA online or drop me a note – cmutanyi@gmail.com – so we can do great things.


Watching Women

I signed a pledge to watch 52 films made by women over a year: a film a week. I am excited about it and especially because I have at least one partner with whom I can talk about the films.

Kenyan films have quite a number of women in their credits; an accident of time and place I have heard it said. However, it sometimes feels like once they’re shown in theatres, they’ll disappear into film ether. I’d love to re-watch them for this challenge and I’d be glad to be directed to them.

Join the ride by signing up here and tweet me so I know we’re in this together.


Time and feminism

I’ve talked about my feminism before and I was having this conversation with someone recently. It feeds into my thoughts on feminism in the real world.

This article was what got me having that conversation. The idea that time is a feminist issue; that the question is whose time it is is also an issue for me. The author has a passing comment about it but I feel it’s very relevant in this context.

If one identifies as a feminist, then they probably know the conversations about how solidarity is for white women. I sometimes say that the People of Colour in this country are poor people and this idea made me wonder how this figures in Kenya.

In the case of a lot of women of a certain class: Is your feminism for your househelp? Do you give her a fair wage, an enabling work environment, time off?

If time is a feminist issue, how does one live their feminism?


Gearing up

Laila and I are excited it’s January because it means #Ed10Chat is coming up. Previously called #Ed10Reads, it’s been renamed to reflect all the different ways we talk about education; including reading about it. The hashtag is a nifty way for us to tweet about education-related matters in a way that leaves crumbs for those who share the passion or are interested.

This month’s #Ed10Chat meeting centres on how to foster dialogue between those in the education sector (teachers, administrators, policymakers) and those who seek to innovate for education. We know that it can sometimes become an echo chamber on both ends and firmly believe that we can do great things together.

We’ll be sending out details of the location of the event soon. Before then, mark your calendars for the 28th of this month and tweet using #Ed10Chat when you want to signpost cool education stuff.

See you then!


I’m so happy

My mom and I called the father of a child I taught in 2009 when he was in Class 2 to enquire about his KCPE results. I was in university then and I was teaching English skills. In 2012, after my last exam, I taught that class again and enjoyed seeing how much they’d grown.

When I started teaching his class, most of them were functionally illiterate. I loved taking them through ‘Sound and Read’ and taking them out of the lot the Uwezo Report speaks of.

He was one of the star pupils and it gave me great pleasure to find out he had scored 356 marks our of a possible 500. He was top of the class and his highest mark was 82% in English.

I spent many afternoons reading to and with that class. For English to be his top subject was such a pleasure and some vindication for those moments.

There’s hope for education in this country. I am looking forward this year to working towards making fun, transformative education available to all children. This was a wonderful way to start the year.


Mums with fight

Almost 11 months. That’s how long the mothers of political prisoners demonstrated for the release of their sons from detention by Moi’s government.

In 1991, Section 2a of the constitution had been repealed and now the mothers of Kenyan political prisoners had a point to make: if their sons had been imprisoned for pushing for multi-party democracy, then they should be free. On February 28, 1992 they congregated at Uhuru Park to make their demands known by means of a hunger strike after they unsuccessfully petitioned the AG Amos Wako for their release.

Among these mothers were Monica Wangu Wamwere, Gladys Thiitu wa Kariuki, Milka Wanjiku Kinuthia, Ruth Wangari Thungu, Leah Wanjiru Mungai and Priscilla Mwara Kariuki. Wangari Maathai was part of the group that made it possible to keep up the pressure and she demonstrated alongside them. These were not women with college degrees and fancy words but they were keenly aware of the injustice at hand.

The Moi government was under pressure from Western aid donors who had put a moratorium on aid until there were democratic reforms and they might have been on edge. I don’t quite know what explains their actions on March 3, 1992 when they beat up the prisoners’ mothers and disbanded the protest. Some of the women stripped, an ominous thing in African culture, and the violence was remarkable.

The Moi government, faced with the backlash from local and international voices, was quick to point out the criminality of the men who the mothers were defending. Tellingly, Maendeleo Ya Wanawake had been so co-opted into the edifice that was KANU that its chair, Wilkista Onsando, publicly castigated the women’s strippping.

Yet there were allies: Archbishop Manasses Kuria of the Anglican Church (then called Church of the Province of Kenya – CPK) offered the mothers refuge at the All Saints Cathedral. While they were there, they spoke to the friends of the cause, their supporters, people who were curious about what it was they were up to. In April, after the police had tried to raid the area they were holed up in, he was quick to mention that it was “…a sanctuary for the mothers of the political prisoners.”

By April 1, 1993 when the police raided the Cathedral grounds, the mothers had resumed eating from around March 21 and were continuing to agitate for the release of their sons. On April 2, a lawyer named Martha Njoka sought to see the mothers and was assaulted by the police; you’ve probably heard of her: Martha Karua. It was not a great time to be a woman standing up for democracy.

Kuria kicked them off the premises on April 12 by which point the mothers had began the process of putting out leaflets to let people know what the issues their sons stood for were. Over the next 11 months, the mothers held daily meetings outside the cathedral to speak with their growing numbers of supporters. They held open forums and spoke about democratic procedures and citizens’ rights. This wasn’t just about freeing their children, it was about making a difference in the country.

On June 24, 1992, four of the political prisoners were released. The mothers held on to the hope of being reunited even as the country geared up for the 1992 election. As you can imagine, there were more pressing issues in the national imagination but they stayed on till January 19, 1993 when they were all reunited with their sons.

I am amazed by how encompassing their work was, how tireless and fearless they were. Care and reform can be of a kind, they so clearly showed; what a valuable lesson.

**Here are a few places to read up: Stepping Forward: Black Women in Africa and the Americas by Catherine Higgs, Kenyan mothers win release of political prisoners and press for democratic reform, 1992-1993, and
Mamas Fighting for Freedom in Kenya by Alexandra Tibbetts in Africa Today
Vol. 41, No. 4, Kenyan Politics: What Role for Civil Society? (4th Qtr., 1994), pp. 27-48

Note: This post is part of #CuminWrites366, my year-long attempt to write a post a day. Find the rest over at readability.com/cuminwrites/

Questions, comments, suggestions or stories about women in history to share? Send them to cuminwrites@gmail.com