Emmanuel Mayaka is a nine year old pupil at Kid Star Primary School. The class register indicates that he is one of the pupils in his class who has been consistently attending school. He is also one of very few pupils in his school who reported to school on 4th January 2017, the official opening day for schools. Many other pupils reported the following week.
Emmanuel is just one of the many pupils in his class whose general attitude towards school has improved since they joined the programme. “Emmanuel, just like many of his classmates, likes coming to the Kibera Tennis court to play,” says his class teacher. “Playing sports, specifically tennis, with guidance from trained coaches is not very common in Kibera. This probably explains the reason they are always excited about running down to the court. The result as we have observed is increased engagement and less absenteeism”.
“I live far from the tennis court, so I can only come there during school days with the rest of my classmates. I enjoy playing tennis. Whenever we are on holiday, like the one we had last December, I always look forward to reopening of school so I can play often,” says Emmanuel. “Football used to be my favorite sport before, but since I learned how to play tennis, it has become my favorite.”“Sometimes simply saying it is mandatory for pupils to come to school every day does not work; they [pupils] should want to come to school,” says his class teacher. “The main reason we have chosen to remain as participants of this programme is that we have seen how much it motivates our pupils to come to school.”
Peris is a standard three pupil who goes to Nazarene Primary School. She was introduced to us by her class teacher who says she is one of the pupils in her class who have remarkably improved in performance over the past one year. To confirm this, we borrowed her performance records over the past year from her class teacher who kindly gave it to us. To our pleasant surprise, we noted that Peris has been constantly improving in every exam, and not a single result showed a drop in total marks from the previous one.
“Peris used to be the timid, antisocial and underperforming one. She almost repeated std. 1, but we decided to push her forward since her parents were against it. Right now we can proudly say that she progressed to std. 3 purely on merit,” says her class teacher. “Her parents definitely have a role to play in her improved performance as they have been showing a lot more interest in her studies than before. But at the same time I give some credit to this programme [Court of Dreams] because I have noticed in her, just like in many other pupils in my class, an improvement in concentration. She, like the others, is usually at her best straight after a session with your coaches. I must therefore admit that those coaching sessions make my work as a teacher much easier too.”
“I only knew about tennis when you [Sadili staff] started visiting our school,” says Peris. “Now I have learnt how to hit the ball and I always enjoy doing it. I wish you could come to our school every day so we can play more,” she adds smiling.
Eight year old Shanice is a pupil at Karama Academy who lives with her parents and two siblings a few meters away from school. She tells us that the lessons she has learnt have already made a big difference in her life.
“I practice good hygiene in school and at home. I used to think brushing my teeth every night was not important. Now I understand how important it is and I do it every morning and night, unless I forget or become too sleepy after dinner. I also use soap every time I wash my hands.” She says.
More importantly, Shanice thinks it is necessary to share her knowledge with her friends and siblings. She encourages them to practice good hygiene.
“I teach my friends and siblings to be hygienic too because they can also get sick from dirt. I am proud of myself, because I am helping other people and showing them the right way to wash their hands.”