Changemaker: Omware Gilbert Mitullah
The hue and cry over the education system in Kenya has lasted for very many years now. Most students who have gone through the 8-4-4 system in Kenya feel that the education system has served them inadequately, and has left them unprepared to live life as it were. That is the reason why we came up with ASAP@Bulbul and the mentorship department that facilitates it.
African Solutions for Africa Programs (ASAP) is a youth leadership and entrepreneurship empowerment organisation that runs programs in Agribusiness, School Mentorship and ICT, as well as a Research and Policy Advocacy department. It is under this banner that ASAP@Bulbul was launched in 2012, and was subsequently funded in 2013 by the British Council Global Changemakers program. ASAP@Bulbul falls in the mentorship department of the ASAP, and entails an annual mentorship program, where students between the ages of 12 and 18 years are taken through the process of learning values, improving their attitude to education to ensure that their success rate in school rises, and teaching them life skills that we hope they will carry through life, whether in employment or entrepreneurship.
ASAP started a little like a ‘save the community’ kind of project for me. I dreamt it up in 2007, when I was walking past the local primary school, and saw that the classrooms there lacked windows and the school didn’t have either water or electricity. I knew in my heart that when I envision education and school, that was not what it was meant to be and that the students could do get better, they deserved better. The dream hibernated or rather incubated in me for three years, and in 2010, I rounded up a couple of my friends with different abilities and skill sets and we started working in a model. We originally wanted to get them windows, new classes, get them everything that they were lacking, but this idea later came to change. We realised that we are not really empowering the students if we do that, and they might not get to learn how to be the change for themselves if we don’t show them how. We then decided to go to the classroom and teach them. It has been three years since and I haven’t regretted a single day. In fact, I am grateful for the opportunity to work with our kids.
Using our specialised curriculum, where we cover topics ranging from careers, creativity and innovation, health and sex education, various issues affecting Africa and life skills, we are able to reach out to the students at Bulbul Primary School and teach them how to be the change in their school and community. We run the program annually, and have been running the second cycle of ASAP@Bulbul program since February, 2013.
This year we have 110 students going through the program. We have mentors who come in to work with our students, and go through the curriculum with them in groups of ten, and the mentors use their own knowledge, wisdom and experience to pass on the information in the lessons to the students. . We also have numerous outdoor activities to help them in the area of life skills, and at the end of every month, we allow a professional or an artiste in any field to come in a give a talk on their journey through life and how they got to where they are. These are our special mentors. At the end of the program, we have an extravaganza where the students get the chance to showcase their talents, and use other methods like sports and crafts to raise money for their school or their community needs.
So far, we have managed to train approximately 200 students using our specialised curriculum, thereby empowering them to be the best versions of themselves they could be, both for their schools and for themselves. I believe that our program can change how Kenya is led in the next decade. I believe that there is a generation in our hands, with whom we are taking a journey that will lead them to influence the future of our nation for decades. I believe that we are raising generation changers, indeed Changemakers through our program.
One profound lesson for me is the fact that when we go into a school for the first time, we go in expecting to teach the students, but at the end of the year, we are the ones who end up learning more and more from them. This has exposed me to the great potential that the students in Kenyan schools have and I am certain that given the chance, they will change how affairs are conducted in our nation. - Gilbert, Global Changemaker from Kenya