Education at Double Joy
Kenyan children value schooling very highly and make extremely motivated students. Some children may never have had the opportunity to go to school before coming to DJ so it can take many years to complete their primary school education. Although primary education is free, costs of uniforms and books may prohibit poorer families from sending children to school. Often children start school late or miss out large chunks if their parents run out of funds.
Double Joy has its own nursery and primary school, and provides an accelerated learning scheme for children who are behind with their education so that they have a chance to catch up with their peers and join a class of their own age. Some of the children may arrive at DJ in poor health and malnourished which also inhibits educational development.
Education at the school is tailored to suit the needs of each child, and class sizes are smaller than in many other Kenyan schools. There is a strong emphasis on nurturing self-esteem and developing the individual child's natural abilities and interests.
Double joy employs 10 teachers, 1 teachers assistant and 3 technical instructors
The children are also taught vocational skills, necessary to lead independent and productive lives.
Finding employment in Kenya is not easy, but there are possibilities for those skilled in carpentry, tailoring and bicycle repair. We have workshops to teach these skills at DJ and employ technicians in each of these skills.
These vocational skills are further enhanced at polytechnic once the children leave Double Joy.
Often during school holidays, girls will attend workshops to learn basket weaving skills. Firstly the reeds are dyed in an assortment of colours and put out to dry.
Then they are braided into a 2-inch-wide plait of several metres length, graduating the colours. Finally the plait is sown around into a basket shape and handles fitted. The result is a basket of considerable beauty.
As well as attending school and carrying out house hold chores our children learn to grow food and keep animals. This is an essential requirement as many adults in the rural areas have no employment or are poorly paid so they need to grow crops to eat and sell.
Each of the older children has a small plot or shamba where he or she can choose and grow crops. Maize is the most popular of crops but the children also grow beans, kale, tomatoes, onions, millet, sorghum and sunflowers.
A number of bikes are dismantled and re-assembled to provide valuable practical experience for the boys who, from age 12 can completely strip bicycle wheels down to spokes, hub and rim, then re-assemble them completely.
People from outside bring bikes in for repair and, as word gets around, these are valuable and marketable skills for when a boy leaves DJ.
We call Double Joy a Children’s Farm because we teach agriculture skills and keep farm animals. We have a small number of donkeys, cows, sheep and hens. All the hens belong to individual children. The children learn how to care for the animals. In Kenya keeping animals is akin to having savings in the bank, as well as the animals working for you and providing food.
Cows and sheep are kept overnight in shelters, and in the daytime moved to pens, where they are milked and fed in the morning. Common feed includes banana leaves, as well as commercial livestock fee. Shelters and cages are cleaned out daily. During the day donkeys are taken out of the compound to pasture, while the other animals stay in their pens.
Our aim is to equip our children with skills to cope once they integrate into community life as adults so our children learn to take on these tasks naturally.