To celebrate the opening of their new route from London to Nairobi in 2008, Virgin Atlantic invited 10 valued customers on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Masai Mara with Sir Richard Branson. The invitees, including ETC founder Sonal Kadchha, helped to build dormitories at a local primary school in the Masai Mara.
At the primary school, she noticed that schools were severely overcrowded (typically pupil/teacher ratios reaching 100:1). This led her to question the point of the physical resources with no teachers around to teach the children.
Accordingly, Sonal set up a scheme for UK teachers to volunteer in local primary schools to help alleviate the teacher shortage, improve curriculums and provide teacher training. This was the beginning of Educating The Children (ETC). The ETC Board subsequently noted that once the children had finished primary school, there was no secondary school for them to move on to – the region had 47 primary schools but no secondary schools.
And so, we embarked on a mission to build the first secondary school in the Masai Mara. In February 2015, we proudly opened The Sekenani Girls High School (SGHS), the first girls’ secondary school in the Masai Mara. SGHS is a government supported boarding school serving a catchment area of 55km2, a population of 68,000 within the Mara division and a similar number of people in the surrounding area. The school is run sustainably through a combination of government funding and subsidised school fees. We work shoulder to shoulder with the community – the local Board includes the Masai community, teachers and government representatives. The ETC Director of Education also sits on the committee to advise on UK standards of teaching.
We are now looking at taking our learnings and expanding to other parts of Africa, including Uganda, Tanzania and Somaliland. For these countries, we are looking at impact investing to scale and target thousands of pupils through single projects.