About St. James School
It is our great joy that we at St. James Primary School wish to share with you our life. Our school is a Private Mission School run by the Dominican Missionary Sisters. It’s a mixed day School.
Our motto is truth and our mission is to sincerely teach the under privileged children and give them good quality and holistic education for Life.
We teach the whole person. The school began as a nursery school in 2003. In 2005 the primary school mushroomed and has since thrived into two streamed classrooms right from class one to eight.
Location of the School
The school is located in Kiambu County, in Juja Division, in Kalimoni sub-location in Juja Farm village 13km away from the Nairobi Thika Supper High Way. The village has a population of about 11,000 people. Majority of the occupants are peasant farmers who rely on piece work for survival.
The place is semi-arid and receives very little rain fall. The economic activities in the area is farming which is done for consumption only. Most people depend on piece work if they can find it within their surroundings. The area has no developments and the land hardly produces anything for commercial trading. People who have settled in the area survive on anything they can get or travel to nearby towns to earn some money.
As I have shared that our place is a dry place and hardly receives rain fall, our students are taught how to take care of the environment at all times. Each student takes care of one tree or flower. This exercise has helped our students to love the science subject as they learn the skill of observation and also to keep the school compound clean.
At school we have a population of 713 students in total. Furthermore we have 26 teachers, 3 cooks, 4 general workers, 9 day and night watchmen and 1 secretary.
The school is divided into two sections.
- The Kindergarten which has 130 students and the
- Primary Section which has 582 students at the moment.
The School is still two streamed. We have 16 classes in the Primary and 3 classes in the Nursery.
We have a catchment area of 7.5km radius. The school is characterized by pupils who walked for long distances to and from school – every day. Most of them start off from their homes as early as 05.00am to be in school by 6.45am and often times it’s still very dark as they walk to school.
A good number of pupils live with their grandparents who rely on others for living. This is brought about by single parents who end up leaving their children with their grandparents as well as parents who have died for one reason or the other.
They faced a challenge of providing food for their grand children. From time to time learners would absent themselves from school due to lack of basic needs. Some suffered from nutrition related diseases. Their performance at schools was thus wanting.
We have an 8-4-4 system of education: Eight years in Primary School, four years in Secondary School and four years at the University.
- The learning starts at 07.00am and ends at 16.45pm every day
- We have 8 lessons every day. Each lesson is allocated 35minutes. In between the lessons we have two short breaks and a longer break for lunch.
- We break for lunch at 12.45pm to 2.00pm.
- In the afternoon, lessons begin at 2.00pm and ends at 3.10pm.
- Then we have a short break for cleaning up of the classrooms. Our students maintain their own classrooms with their class teachers. They sweep and wash them as this place is so dusty.
At 3.30pm we have extra-curricular activities. These activities are divided into two.
In the first term of the year, we have ball games and drama festivals and in the second term, we have athletics and Music Festivals. On the time table, these activities are allocated on Tuesdays and Thursdays after the afternoon lessons. On Mondays we have clubs and guidance and counseling sessions to different classes. On Wednesdays, students have study and are given extra tuition.
Mass in School
Apart from these activities, we also have mass in school once a month and three times in a year the students animate mass in the parish. Since our school is a day school, students come to church in their uniforms on the day they animate mass. Each child brings a small gift for offertory and they dance the different parts of mass.
Every year, the school holds annual events.
In the begin of the year
- we hold a thanksgiving Mass and Prize giving day for our students who performed well in the previous year. This is a big event in our school as we invite Educational Officials, our local political leaders our parents and the community around the school.
Apart from this
- we also hold St. James day which falls on the 25th of July since our school is named after St. James the Apostle. This too is a big event as all the students prepare traditional dances, poems and drama and after lunch we have either ball games or athletics where students compete with their parents and teachers.
Every end of year
- we also have the graduation of our Kindergarten children. This also brings together the whole community around.
We also hold annual general meetings with parents where we discuss the academic progress of their children and the progress of the School in general. Sometimes we hold seminars for parents as well as teachers and pupils. We have school clinic twice a year where parents come to meet individual teachers to discuss their children’s performances.
The school also organizes educational trips for students.
Fees for the School
Our School is a Private Mission School. This means that the school does not receive any support from the government. The parents pay for the tuition of their children. All the staff that is, teachers and the ancillary staff are paid from the fees collected from the parents.
This makes it very difficult to ask for fees curtailed for private schools since our parents have no proper source of income. Parents work so hard on the land just to get anything for their children to be in School.
A few of our students get sponsorship money from the Christian Foundation for the Children and aged (CFCA) which is $20 a month. But its only for tuition and few books.
Our teachers and all our workers are not given housing allowances and medical allowances nor commuter allowance. This is because we get very little from the parents just to help pay them and make sure the school is running.
We are happy to say that this year we have 85 students who will sit for the Kenya Certificate for Primary Education end October. We are confident that they will do well.
A beacon of hope dawned in September 2011 through the Sternstunden.
Pupils are able to learn comfortably assured of at least a meal in a day, Monday to Friday. At 10.30am tea and bread and lunch at 1.00pm a balanced meal. Some of our students depend on this meal every day as their parents have little.
As a result we have been able to retain children as well as workers in the school. The academic performance has improved a lot. The learners are healthy and happy.
We remain truly grateful to the Sternstunden community for their great charity and generosity extended to St. James Primary School. The feeding program still attracts many parents to bring their children to us. This still gives us a lot of confidence that many children in Juja Farm will be educated as it was the wish of our late Sr. Luise.
Results and effects
Lastly, the school is growing tremendously.
Despite being situated is the hardship area, the students value education very much. This has been seen in the good results that the school has obtained in the past few years.
Each time we write the national exams we always record progress. In our area, we have maintained our first position among other schools. This is so because of the good learning environment we have offered to our students as well as the good working conditions for all our workers.
The challenges we have
- Parents fail to pay the school fees in time as the result it’s hard to pay the workers in time.
- The school has inadequate text books for all the students. Every child is expected to buy their own exercise books and course books instead which they are not able as parents depend on piece work. The school tries to share the few books we buy every year. The computer classes also has enlivened in our pupils the joy of coming to School.
- We do not have enough teaching materials like teaching aids as funds are scarce.
- The school does no have a library. We still need to put up a library as well as the library books. We have a few which students scramble for. Library books helps them to master English language and raises their self esteem.
- We have students who walk as far as 10km coming to school. A school bus would be ideal to fetch all the students who come from far places. Some of these students when they reach school and sit in class the start dozing as they are tired from walking and the concentration span is very low.
- The low wages to our workers cause them to look for better pay elsewhere. This makes it hard to have good continuation in teaching the students as they often have new teachers.
- We have the borehole in place but we would still need the water tanks and the water tower.