| By Joan Mathenge |
Macheo Achievement Program was established with the sole aim of addressing the low rate of transition from secondary school to tertiary education for students from low income neighborhoods in Nairobi – Kibera, Mukuru and Kangemi. Through service to society, the program focuses on supportive learning, life skills, and character development sessions offered to the students every Saturday during academic terms at the University. These operations came to a standstill when the Covid-19 pandemic hit and disrupted the normalcy. It was now up to the students to implement time planning and good study habits that would assist in not falling behind with their studies in the midst of the challenges birthed by the pandemic.
In spite of the pandemic, the program has been successful in recording a total of fifty high school students who successfully sat for the 2020 KCSE. 4% attained a grade B, 14% a B-, 12% a C+, 24% a C, 18% a C-, 18% a D+ and 8% a D.
With the effort of reducing drop out tolls, and increasing transition rates, the program held a career fair session on the Friday, 28th May 2021 for the 2020 KCSE candidates. It began with a session from Mr. John Mutisya, Director of the Strathmore University Mentoring Department, on Skills for the future. ‘‘There is a need for you to know yourselves first, before you work towards your future, by assessing their personal goals, interpersonal skills, strengths, weaknesses and passions. This later comes in handy in influencing your career decision making. It is also important to create a life plan of how you envision yourself in the next four years, which would give you control over your lives, clarify important priorities and identify your life purpose.’’
Teresia Maina, Program Assistant at the Community Service Centre (CSC), afterwards proceeded with a session on how they could apply for University and College placements according to their cluster weights. She offered a step by step procedure for the application process and offered offered the link to the episode featuring KUCCPS on the CSC Winning @ LifeSkills podcast, which the students could revisit, in case of any clarifications. The students were fortunate to be engaged in a session with HELB officials who took them through the procedure of applying for education loans. ‘‘In the event that you are unable to support their education, you have the option of applying for HELB loans. Visit the HELB student portal website and follow the steps indicated in order to secure the loans.’’ In addition to advising them on the dos and don’ts of the disbursed loan, she emphasized on the need for integrity when it comes to repaying the loan upon completion of their higher education.
The event was wrapped up by a presentation on by Victoria Mwema, from the Macheo Program, on how they would survive transitions. ‘‘Moving up from high school into tertiary level is a process and marks an important milestone. Just like any other journey you have been through, it has its ups and downs. You will go through a number of challenges when attempting to adjust to the new environment: feeling overwhelmed, experiencing anxiety, and peer pressure. Regardless of these trials, you need to adopt navigation strategies to ensure a smooth shift: establish a balance between your social life and academic obligations, adopt positive coping strategies to manage the transition stress, and clarify your life priorities and purpose.’’
After all the hard work the students and some mentors went to share a meal to celebrate the end of one stage and the beginning of another. Some students and mentors gave brief speeches with expressions of gratitude and some advice for the months and years ahead.
At the end of the day Mr. Luis Borrallo, Director, CSC, asked the students to summarize in one word their impressions of the years spent in the Macheo Program. Some of the words were: home, mother, mentor, hope, and light. He encouraged them to keep spreading these same values in all they would pursue in life.