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How is Finnish education expertise supporting Kenyan schools to change their teaching through education for sustainable development?

“In our school, the teacher to student ratio is 1:120. There is a big language barrier. Although I have a heavy duty, this course is very important for my job as a teacher, so I have to set aside time for it.”

 – Antoney Zenga Binge

Antoney Zenga Binge is the head teacher at Morning Star, a primary school with 1,450 students from pre-primary 1 to grade 8, located in a remote area of Kenya’s Turkana County. Antoney is one of the selected participants in Finn Church Aid and EduGems Finland joint pilot project.

It has been only 3 weeks since the start and we are happy to share some valuable insights and learning outcomes from the training.

The aim of the project is to bring the ecological crisis to the attention of principals in a way that generates new starting points for learning content, activities and structures. Activism is needed in schools to change the inequality and destruction of nature that now go hand in hand.

Training impact

Impacts will be measured in terms of changes in values, knowledge and behaviours. The results of the training will be used to better serve the needs of schools in the Global South in relation to ESD. Schools need teacher training and practical resources. The project will develop a scalable and effective training pathway.

Although the school environments in Finland and Kenya are different, there are several pedagogical tools to support the reduction of inequality and natural disasters. The education pathway also incorporates positive pedagogy – teachers can identify their own strengths:

“My strength is collaboration and creativity, especially when dealing with the large population of my school. I feel humbled to join you as I gain more experience and expertise to change the world.”

– Molline Kawisia, from Joy Primary School, which serves refugees.

Teachers are encouraged to add planetary perspectives, green problems, solution-focused learning and student involvement to their lessons. Principals and leaders are encouraged to involve the whole school in the change – and in particular to train their teachers.

“By creating a project that connects students to nature or the real world, such as an environmental project like a garden of trees that they plant in areas of deprivation, and after a few years, these trees will transform the area into a good environment for different activities. I have learned more about ESD and also learnt how this knowledge can be put into practice through experiments and projects, giving students future skills that will allow them to acquire action competencies that will allow them to improve their future world through research and skills acquired.”

– Sarah Munyolet Academic teacher at Bright Primary School. The school opened in January 2021 and is located in Kalobeyeyey village 3. The school has 2117 students and school has support  from Finn Church Aid and UNHCR.

Future development of the program

Several challenges have been identified during the school’s development and will be taken into account in the further development of the school:

1. language complexity – we have different nationalities with different languages, so understanding each other becomes a problem. The complexity of language and theories, as most learners only understand the languages of their own community and only a few words in the most commonly used languages, English and Kiswahili, which makes learning less real because they do not understand what is being taught.

2. large class sizes, with a ratio of 1:100, which is a major challenge to achieving the objective of the day and makes it difficult for teachers to use different pedagogical methods

3. untrained teachers – we have less trained teachers, most of the teachers are refugees with no training, so the lessons are not standardised.

4. insufficient resources, so practical exercises are not carried out as planned or scheduled. 

5. cultural differences – due to cultural differences challenges, some believe that learning is for boys and also the harsh climate with very high temperatures.

6. lack of opportunities to practice new skills due to an environment with limited resources and facilities.

7. Moreover, students are sometimes unable to carry out practical tasks due to insufficient resources in an environment with limited facilities. 

8. Our pupils are of different ages, due to the fact that they come from different countries, most of them from parents who have fled the wars and are now living in refugee camps.

9. The classroom is inclusive, meaning that there are learners with different disabilities in the same room, so when I design the curriculum, the needs of people with disabilities are a priority.

Technical challenges have not been significant, although participants initially expressed concerns about the lack of internet access. EduGems’ e-learning academy makes it simple, interactive and easy for participants to learn together from all over the world. 

Looking to the future? 

Collaborative projects require close interaction and trust between participating organisations. EduGems Finland and Finn Church Aid share the same values. Planning and joint efforts ensure that participants receive an impactful learning experience and results.

Measuring changes in values takes time for both training coordinators and teachers. 

This is just the beginning, and we look forward to reporting on the process again soon!


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