|By Annete Karanja|
Boniface Muthama, a classmate, is the reason I am a Macheo Math tutor. In my second year, I randomly asked what he does while he’s not busy studying. “I volunteer in the University on Saturdays,” he said. I sought to understand why he willingly chose to spend his Saturdays on campus instead of taking a break from this Monday to Friday hangout. That is when he told me about Macheo and the rest is history.
What do you know about Macheo?
In 2012, Strathmore University, under the Community Service Centre department instituted the Macheo Achievement Program, an education and empowerment program for needy secondary school students. The students hail from the urban informal settlements of Nairobi, namely Kibera, Mukuru and Kangemi. Over 60 volunteers and mentors tutor subjects such as Mathematics, English, Kiswahili, Biology, Physics, and Chemistry, as well as taking part in mentoring the young students. A number of students who qualify to join Strathmore receive scholarships while others join various universities and colleges. Through its activities, Macheo contributes to the reduction of school drop-out rates.
What are some of the challenges your mentees face?
Lack of textbooks is one of the major challenges. Some students sit in classes where the only textbook available is the one with the teacher holds. Another challenge is the low number of teachers so if a teacher is absent, the student misses out big time. With each missed lesson comes a lag in completing the syllabus. As a result, their readiness for the final national examination is compromised.
How can some of the challenges mentioned above be addressed?
To encourage the students to fully take advantage of the opportunity granted by the Macheo program. For example, by never missing classes offered on Saturdays, arriving on time, and always asking the right questions. Another is for tutors to offer remedial classes to further the student’s understanding of the topic /subject as needed. Thirdly, Stratizens can assist in purchasing required textbooks or donate those they previously used while in high school. Over and above that to encourage the students and tutors to create a relationship that goes beyond books. This will help open up communication between them as they can freely reach out to each other.
What advice would you give to those still not sure on how they can give back to society?
Find what you are passionate about and share it with those close to you so they can also share with those they encounter. When you are passionate about something giving it is never a burden, rather you become a fountain that never runs dry.
Clinton Wanjohi has been a volunteer math tutor in Macheo since January 2018. He graduated in December 2020 with a Bachelor of Commerce degree (Finance and Management Sciences).
To learn more on how you can get involved, reach out to Victoria Mwema, Macheo’s Program Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org