We understand that if transformation is to happen, it has to occur in all areas of life. Ndoto’s students are encouraged to dream about what they want to do in life and how that will impact their country.
We believe that education is a fundamental piece in the complicated puzzle of eradicating poverty.
We have created a student sponsorship program where we provide students with a sponsor who pays their annual school fees, connects with them through writing letters, and partners with the Ndoto staff for their mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual development. We send our sponsored students to established day schools and boarding schools both in Kisumu and the surrounding areas that have good reputations and produce successful students. Our students range from kindergarten through the university level and are carefully selected through an application and interview process each year.
Becoming a Sponsored Student
May/June: Applications are available to anyone interested in sponsorship for 100 KES each (Approx. $1.16 USD).
July: Completed applications are returned to the Ndoto office.
August: Out of approximately 500 applications, we call approximately 75 students with a parent or guardian for an interview.
September: After interviews, we go through a vetting process based on the student’s application, school performance, level of need, and interview. We also conduct home visits to verify information on the application.
October: We post a list of those who are accepted into the sponsorship program for the upcoming school year that starts in January.
December: New students attend our Christmas Retreat as their entrance into the program.
Students sign a covenant agreement when they enter the program, which outlines our expectations for them behaviorally, spiritually, and academically. Students who disobey the covenant agreement are given multiple opportunities to improve or change before they are put on probation or are released from the program. We love our students and want to see them succeed which is why we have to balance grace with discipline.
The expectations in the covenant can be summed up as follows:
Staff-Student Mentor Relationships
Each staff member is assigned to a group of 30-40 students, and they invest in them spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically as they help them prepare for their future.
Kenyan School System
Technically, there is free primary school tuition in Kenya, but schools don’t provide textbooks or supplies and tack on so many extra fees that parents still struggle to afford school for their children. There is no free secondary education in Kenya, which is one reason why the enrollment of students drops from 83% in primary school to 50% once students reach 9th grade.
The Ndoto staff look at factors such as grades, KCSE exam results, level of need, and quality of character to see the best way qualifying high school students should further their education. There are four different levels of post-secondary education available:
Degree: Bachelor’s Degree from a university
Diploma: 2-3 years of study similar to an Associate’s degree at a college
Certificate: 1-1 ½ years at a technical college
Vocational Training: Learning a trade such as tailoring, carpentry, plumbing, etc.
In Kenya, student’s educational future is based solely on standardized tests. At the end of 8th grade, students take the KCPE (Kenyan Certificate for Primary Education), which will determine if and where they are eligible to attend high school based only on their score. The exam is 3 days long, tests everything they have learned from 4th – 8th grade, and is extremely stressful.
At the end of 12th grade, students take the KCSE (Kenyan Certificate of Secondary Education), in which the score alone determines if and where they can attend college, what they can study, and what type of training they can get: degree, diploma, certificate, or vocational training. The exam is 5 days a week for 3 weeks and puts an incredible amount of stress and pressure on students.
These exams force students into certain areas of study and arbitrarily rank careers based on scores alone. Our dream is to break these barriers so that students can pursue their passions, and help to give careers an even respect among them.
Ndoto students are consistently engaging with the staff and peers and are learning how to interact with each other on a daily basis at school and in the community.
As students gain support from Ndoto staff, lose the stress of finding money for school fees, and gain confidence in the classroom, their grades improve greatly.
Ndoto provides many of the students with a bed to sleep on and meals each day resulting in improved health and energy.
“…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.”
Isaiah 61: 3