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  • Writer's pictureAlex Lekishon

Empowering Education: Maasai Mara High School's Journey Towards Academic Excellence

One of our main goals in education is to provide high-quality resources to the schools that need them the most, allowing students to succeed and grow academically. Alex Lekishon reports on the positive impact these initiatives are having among learners at Maasai Mara High School.

 

by Alex Lekishon


In rural Narok County, Kenya, where only 11% of young people are accessing secondary education because of socio-economic challenges, Maasai Mara High School (MMHS) stands as a beacon of hope. Despite facing formidable obstacles, the students of MMHS have defied the odds to pursue their academic dreams. Our mission is clear: to equip them with the tools and resources they need to thrive academically, bridging the gap between their reality and the educational opportunities available in more privileged areas.


At MMHS, every student's journey is a testament to resilience and determination. In a region where poverty and under-equipped schools are pervasive, accessing quality education is a real challenge. Yet, the students of MMHS refuse to be defined by their circumstances. They have shown remarkable tenacity in overcoming adversity and pursuing their educational aspirations. (Note that MMHS is a boys' school, and we do the same resource building at girls' schools.)


Our commitment to their success is unwavering. We believe that every student, regardless of their background, deserves access to high-quality learning resources that can unlock their full potential.


A Library & Lab: Catalysts for Academic Growth

Through strategic partnerships and generous donations, we have been able to establish a comprehensive library and science laboratory at MMHS — resources this school had never had before. These facilities are more than just physical spaces; they are catalysts for change, empowering students to explore, discover, and excel. We are grateful to the Rotary Clubs of Los Altos and Walnut Creek, California, for their support on these projects.


In November 2021, we launched the MMHS Library — a vibrant hub of knowledge and exploration. Stocked with a diverse array of books, course materials including STEM, and multimedia resources, the library has become a sanctuary for intellectual curiosity. From classic literature to contemporary works, students have access to a wealth of learning materials that inspire and engage. We also extensively renovated an old classroom to create this space.

The MMHS library today

In April 2023, we followed up with the MMHS Science Laboratory, a state-of-the-art facility equipped with the tools and equipment necessary for hands-on experimentation. Here, students have the opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge to practical scenarios, fostering a deeper understanding of scientific principles and processes. Students in Kenya are required to complete science experiments in order to graduate from high school and to compete for seats in science at universities. Thus, equipping these schools improves the prospects for students from the Maasai Mara to be able to study STEM subjects at the university level and advances equity and fairness in education.

MMHS students participating in a science practicum

As part of our continuing support for these facilities, in January 2024 we had cabinets built for the Science Lab. This came as a result of a visit by our Founder and CEO Barbara Mackraz in fall of 2023, when she discovered that cabinets were greatly needed to keep the supplies and equipment organized.


Impact Measured in Test Scores

The positive impact of these interventions has been profound. This is shown in the recently released Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) results, with dramatic increases in scores in English, Biology, and Chemistry.

As the Principal of MMHS, John Oguti, notes:

"The laboratory equipment and apparatus provided by Oliveseed Foundation have undeniably benefited our school academically. Our students' scientific skills have soared, as evidenced by the outstanding performance in Biology and Chemistry. An analysis of academic performance data reveals a substantial improvement in mean scores for both Science and English subjects. The impact of the library and laboratory on student outcomes is unmistakable.”

The KCSE test scores also highlight the need for additional resources in subjects like Physics, where a dedicated laboratory is still lacking.


The Power of Education

As we reflect on the journey of Maasai Mara High School, we are reminded of the transformative power of education. Through collaborative efforts and unwavering dedication, we have seen firsthand the profound impact that high-quality learning resources can have on students' lives.


Justine Mwangi Kariuki, school captain and student librarian, offers a personal testament to this transformation:

"When I first stepped into MMHS, the reading culture here wasn’t as vibrant. We lacked a central hub for literary exploration — a library. But thanks to Oliveseed Foundation, our story took a delightful turn. Now, the library is the vibrant heartbeat of our academic community. Students and teachers alike are now actively engaged in the library, turning it into a dynamic centre for intellectual exploration."

School captain Justine Mwangi Kariuki in the library

The journey of Maasai Mara High School is far from over. As we celebrate our achievements, we are reminded of the work that still lies ahead. Together with our partners and supporters, we remain committed to providing MMHS students with the tools, resources, and opportunities they need to succeed. With every book read and experiment conducted, we move one step closer to realizing our vision of a brighter future for all.


 


About the Author

Alex Lekishon is a Strategic Communications and Fundraising Specialist with experience in communications policies, evaluation of learning systems, and standards in carbon projects and the conservation sector. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communications from Mount Kenya University, Nairobi.

A native of the Maasai Mara, Alex is passionate about expanding education in his home region.

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