Be Part of an Emerging School
Since 2005 the school has seen great improvement. A row of wooden classrooms, which lacked floors and became unusable during the rainy season, were replaced with three new concrete rooms. In 2007, working with the International Group from McCutcheon High School in the US, ISD was wired and electricity brought to the school. This provided a great boon to the school. Students can now study in the evenings (previously only the eighth graders had access to a lantern to study with). A TV was purchased for students to view during lunch and weekend times. Soon after a DVD player was also purchased. In 2009 a dining facility was constructed. This included a more efficient cooking area (which still uses a wood burning stove, but a great improvement over the outdoor firepit that was used previously) as well as a large seating area for the students (previously the students sat outside to eat–and before electricity they did so in the dark). In 2011 a boys dormitory was complete and construction of the girls dormitory is ongoing. The old dormitory has large cracks in the walls, and floor, and will have to be torn down as it is becoming structurally unsound. The new dorms, besides providing for better facilities are also larger and give ISD room to expand the number of students it serves.
All of these improvements have made for a better learning and teaching environment, yet a lack of water remains a crucial element in making the school a hospitable and well functioning facility. If this was coupled with dietary improvements for the students, and better teacher support, the educational achievement of the students could be greatly improved. The new dorm also allow for further recruitment of students from Northern Kenya. These deaf children usually remain hidden away in the pastoralist communities which reside in Northern Kenya, and so campaigns to get these students to school are necessary. If ISD is able to offer financial incentives (paying all costs for the children, including transport costs), this helps persuade parents who might otherwise resist sending their children to school.
Top Priority Project: Water well (borehole)
Although ISD is connected to water from Isiolo town, constant water shortages means that ISD has to pay substantial amounts of money to water suppliers who bring water in trucks and fill the storage tanks (increasing drought levels in the area have made this a much larger problem the past few years). In the past, and still occasionally, students are sent out into the community to beg for water from churches and other facilities that have boreholes.
New dormitories for the students have been constructed which include more modern facilities (sinks, flush toilets, simple showers). However, because of the lack of water, all of these modern features remain unused (you can view a short video of the students making fun of the lack of water in the Multimedia section). Instead, the students are still forced to use the outhouses, with no handwashing nearby, and to lug water in basins to bath with.
Food/Agriculture: There is also a large section of unused land on the school compound that lies dormant, but which the school could utilize for agriculture if a permanent water source was created. This could provide for vocational opportunities, a source of income for the school as well as a more varied food source for the students. Currently, food largely comes from internationally funded school feeding programs. This provides schools with porridge mix, as well as beans and maize to make a dish called githeri. The students at ISD eat porridge for breakfast seven days a week, and eat githeri for lunch and dinner, with a special meal offered on Sunday (usually consisting of a mix of other beans and occasionally rice). The diet, although providing a nice mix of carbohydrates and proteins, severely lacks fruit and vegetables. Indeed Vitamin A deficiency is common, with night blindness the first sign of students suffering from this.
Construction and upkeep of buildings–
The soil at ISD is black cotton (read more at Wiki) which tends to shrink and swell dramatically between the rainy and dry seasons. This soil movement has led to large infrastructure damage of the classrooms (you can view pictures of the damage in the multimedia section) Although the classrooms are still usable, ISD needs to prepare for construction of new classrooms, with stronger foundations which can withstand the shifts. There is also short-term upkeep needed, including fixing of broken windows and filling of large cracks in the walls. During the dry season Isiolo becomes very dry, dusty and windy, and inadequate windows means that a layer of dust settles on everything in the classrooms. This is a time when students tend to fall ill.
There is also ongoing construction of the girls dormitory which needs to be completed. Because of the political election in March 2013, it is expected, based on previous election periods, that payments to schools from the government will be delayed and some payments, such as funds for construction, cut.