Children enjoy playing with modelling clay that comes with the School-in-a- Box Kit. © World Vision Photo/Hellen Owuor

A School-in-a-Box that Makes Learning Possible During Disasters

By Susan Otieno and Hellen Owuor, World VisionCommunications Department, Kenya

Children have a right to education. And their hunger for it is evident in many Kenyan communities. However, natural disasters at times make learning impossible.

For instance, floods emanating from heavy rains often destroy books, stationery and other learning materials used for studying. Teachers in affected schools may also lose teaching aids.

As a result, learning is often halted in flood-prone schools, making children lag behind in education during rainy seasons.

Disasters such as heavy rains usually interrupt learning flood prone areas in Kenya.
Disasters such as floods often interrupt learning in schools located in flood-prone areas in rural Kenya. ©World Vision Photo/Hellen Owuor

 

World Vision, with the support of donors in the United States, is addressing these challenges through a low-cost innovation known as the School-in-a-Box Kit.

The kit is supplied in a metallic box filled with learning materials for early grade pupils as well as teaching aids for their teachers. These include: pencils, modelling clay, sharpeners, chalk, rulers, erasers, felt pens, biro pens, manila paper, notebooks and teaching charts.

The School-in-a- Box Kit is supplied in a metallic box that is filled with learning materials for early grade pupils as well as teaching aids for their teachers. ©World Vision Photo/Sarah Ooko
The School-in-a-Box Kit is supplied in a metallic box that is filled with learning materials for early grade pupils as well as teaching aids for their teachers in Kenya. ©World Vision Photo/Hellen Owuor

 

Since the box is waterproof, its contents are safe from heavy rains. This cushions schools from the damage caused by floods on learning materials.

The box is usually distributed to schools affected by floods. But once delivered, its contents can be used continuously, even after water levels go down. A  box is designed effectively meet the needs of a classroom comprising of 35 children.

Where schools are totally filled with water and pupils are required to evacuate to other areas, the contents of the box can enable teachers to easily establish makeshift classrooms and teach children wherever they are.

“When the floods swept away all the books, children stopped coming to school as they didn’t have learning materials. Nowadays children seldom miss school, since the School-in-a-Box kits provide them with all that they need to study,” said Josephine Mwongeli, an Early Childhood Development (ECD) teacher at Mweleli Primary School in Kalawa, Machakos County.

She added: “The children seem to enjoy the lessons a lot because of the colorful charts with pictures, colored manila papers and chalks that we use to teach. Previously, we only had white chalks.”

“I love the books. They have nice colours. I also like the crayons and modelling clay that I can play with,” noted Mutheu, a grade two pupil at the school with a wide grin.

Children enjoy playing with modelling clay that comes with the School-in-a- Box Kit. © World Vision Photo/Sarah Ooko
Children enjoy playing with modelling clay that comes with the School-in-a- Box Kit in Kalawa, Kenya. © World Vision Photo/Hellen Owuor

 

James Kaloki, the Deputy Head Teacher of Mweleli Primary School noted that the kit has increased enrollment in the institution. This has led to an influx of pupils that are eager to learn.

“The colorful nature of the items in the kit makes learning enjoyable for the pupils. Generally, this has also improved their performance," Kaloki added.

The crayons and modelling clay that come with the School-in-a- Box Kit are favourites for many pupils. © World Vision Photo/Susan Otieno
The crayons and modelling clay that come with the School-in-a- Box Kit are favourites for many pupils in Kalawa,Kenya. © World Vision Photo/Susan Otieno

 

“We are now prepared and sure that in case of another instance of floods, learning will continue as normal. Everything is safe inside the box,” he added.

Isabell Ogonji, an ECD teacher at Wasare Primary School in Katito (Kisumu County) said that she is happy with the teaching aids in the box as they make learning fun and easy.

She is no longer worried about future floods as she knows that learning will continue, thanks to the School-in-a Box kit. 

Learn more about our other disaster management projects here.