Can you imagine founding a Steiner-Waldorf school without assuming tuition as income? No?
Neither can I. And yet…
After 40 years in Waldorf education, I retired to Kenya in East Africa. Despite retirement, I still feel connected – does one ever disconnect?
I found there are 4 schools here, 3 of the more usual kind, relying on tuition fees, and another with a very different philosophy.
The Rudolf Steiner School, Mbagathi, was the first Steiner-Waldorf school, founded here in 1989, and has been growing ever since. It is referred to as the ‘Mother’ school of East Africa. The mission of the school is to educate underprivileged children through sponsorships and donations, as their families live in great poverty, hence affording basic needs is a daily struggle. The feeding of children is a primary concern, education is rarely possible. The educational approach at the Mbagathi School is Steiner/Waldorf pedagogy, and it relies on sponsorships and other donations from various sources.
This is where teacher training sessions are held for teachers from all over Africa – other than South Africa. There were 80 at the last session. Yes, 80! Waldorf education is alive and well in Africa!
Most children at this school come from desperate situations, poverty, abuse, malnutrition, often with no competent or no living parents, and every other calamity you can imagine.
Some need to board for safety reasons, some walk a few miles to and from school every day – some alone and some with an ‘auntie’. Some are lucky enough to come on a school bus.
Outdoor shoes are lined up outside the classrooms, children stand at the door to shake hands with their teacher, you can hear the morning verse – ‘The sun with loving light makes bright for me each day…’
The Christian Community Children’s Service and Muslim children’s instruction are provided once a week. They are all fed meals with food from the large biodynamic garden and farm. The children grow strong and thrive on healthy food and Waldorf education. They laugh a lot and ask questions of visitors, while being respectful. They know how to play! The mood of the school is uplifting and inspiring.
How can they do this? How is this possible?
Of course, it’s a constant struggle, but the courage continues, year after year, the classrooms are full with 32 children with no space for yet one more desk, and costs have gone up here in Kenya as everywhere else in the world.
Sponsorship can take different forms and can be paid per month, per term or annually.
Sponsorship for a child is US $83 p.m., $333 per term or $1000 p.a. Boarding for those in greatest need is the same. These can also be shared with another sponsor.
A class can be sponsored for any amount manageable per year, although with increase in costs they need about $1000 per class per year to pay for the school supplies that can only come from Europe, as well as the many general costs.
Now that the cost of basic foods here in Kenya has almost doubled, a donation specifically for the meals program would also be deeply appreciated.
Can you support this courage and this extraordinary school?
I am available for any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
The school has an excellent website: https://steinerschoolmbagathi.co.ke/
Take a look – it’s moving and inspiring!