Motherway Education Centre (Motherway) is the brainchild of Emily Osundwa, which she conceived after several years of working in different Kenyan schools. Based on her experience, she identified two main issues:
- High rates of teen pregnancy and how those girls had to drop out of school because the institution would not incorporate them again
- Lack of government sponsorship for secondary school. Parents receive a stipend for taking their kids to primary school, but once they reach high school, this help ends, translating to many kids being forced to leave school due to a lack of resources.
To address these issues, in 2013, Emily started a private school for grades 9 to 12 with a minimal fee structure suitable for each parent’s capacity. Despite the small fee, the school provided high-quality education for vulnerable students, including teenage mothers and kids from the slums. Ten years later, they are still going strong as a school. They have become an institution that is appreciated by the community with a staff of teachers and Emily as the principal. The team has a close relationship with their students. They listen to their students’ concerns, help them stay in school no matter what, and charge a small fee for parents who can pay but free for those who cannot pay.
They are still combating the main reasons for school dropout: absent parents due to their long working hours, students mobilizations because there are no job opportunities for their parents, teen pregnancy, and drug and alcohol abuse. Emily always involves the parents and ensures they are committed to their child’s education.
Emily as a mother in her community, was touched to see young girls having to drop out of school in grade 8th to go and help their mothers in casual jobs. She met many parents who told her their girls had been in the house for one or two years after finishing middle school because they couldn’t access high school. This situation did not sit well with Emily because she believes that “educating one girl is like educating the whole community.”
Also, she identified an existing gap between private and public schools. While public schools are more accessible, they do not have the same quality of education as private schools. Therefore, Emily decided to create an affordable private school that would give boys and girls from the community a chance to continue studying in high school.
Motherway’s Community Impact
Compared to the public schools around the area, Motherway has a higher rate of students going to university to study a wide range of careers such as education, engineering, nursery, sports management, and medicine. We have also helped students obtain good jobs in big companies, making them breadwinners and helping their families end the poverty cycle.
Motherway has also become a haven for many kids whose parents live far away, in unsafe places or uninhabitable houses. The institution has been home to many students. If they are disciplined and are not into drugs, they will always find a bed within our premises. We also give meals to all needy students to ensure they grow properly.
The institution has also impacted the community and the parent’s mindsets. Nowadays, parents are more aware of the importance of education and discipline. They want their kids enrolled in Motherway instead of other schools because they see that our staff’s structure, compassion, sympathy, and guidance are unique. We have even started weekly sessions where female teachers meet with the girls, and male teachers meet with the boys to listen and guide them about their personal and academic issues. We also provide spiritual nourishment through our weekly worship and teacher instructions.
COVID-19 was a Disaster for Motherway Education Center
COVID-19 was a disaster for Motherway Education Center. Before Covid, the school ran smoothly, with a decent number of parents paying their fees, which allowed them to pay their mortgage and staff salaries. Also, they had many students in all grades, and the population was growing. After Covid, the student population decreased drastically because many students had to relocate to rural areas due to the lack of job opportunities for their parents in the city. This situation has directly impacted our revenues because the parents are now poorer and unable to pay the school fees, and we need the school fees to maintain the school and the student’s needs.
Also, while the school was closed during COVID-19, the teachers relocated or took other jobs and could not return to work with us. Of the seven teachers they had pre-COVID, only two are left and are paid a minimal salary, requiring Emily to step back into teaching and leaving her other duties as a principal on the side. The students’ learning process was also affected during the pandemic due to the lack of classes; hence they need help catching up with the syllabus.
Motherway is on a Mission to Recover from COVID-19.
Motherway plans to recover from COVID-19 and resume its positive impact on the community and has devised a sustainability plan. They have identified key partners in this mission: the parents and the community and other external partners such as the Good Network, which partner them up with a school from Europe to have exchange and multicultural lessons for students of both schools. Good Network also gives school supplies like books, pens, pencils, computers and sports equipment to keep students active.
Motherway is about to lose its school property as they have received a notice to purchase or vacate it by the end of May 2023. The cost to buy the property is 30,000 USD. Leaving the property will mean moving to the countryside, where land is cheaper, and the school can grow food like fruits and vegetables for the students’ meals. Even if this was an option, a small center in Nairobi would still be required to keep the current students who live in the slums and cannot be transported to the new place. This option means they will need the funds to maintain two locations instead of one if they can buy their school property.
Building Financial Resilience – Funds are Needed – Motherway Requires Your Help.
Motherway sustainability plan will require building financial resilience. Emily has contacted all parents who can pay their fees to make payments, as these funds go towards school maintenance and teachers’ salaries. EMily needs to raise 30,000 USD to keep the property. She is contacting individuals and international organizations to ask for help with donations so they can keep the building. She has been in talks with people from Japan and Poland and continues to look for more connections.
Motherway plans to sell products to help them have a stable income source. The plan is to produce baskets, hats, and scarves with local materials, which they will sell to local and national buyers who want to buy an excellent affordable product and, in the process, help them sustain their school. They will engage the community in the production of the items. The students willing and interested in helping them in their free time will also participate in making the items; that way, there will be more community involvement in Motherway’s mission.
While the school fees from parents can help Emily cover teachers’ salaries and school supplies to give students better material to continue teaching them and open our doors to more needy kids, a significant amount of money is needed urgently to cover the school building purchase. Emily has set up a crowdfunding campaign to help them fundraise to achieve their mission of buying the school’s building.
Motherway and Emily require your donations. Please click the button to go to the campaign.