During my time with Map Mathare I was surprised to find that in my area, Mathare North, there are only three government schools: Mathare North primary school, Drive inn primary school and Ruaraka high school. The fourth school collapsed. In the year 2006 the government released twenty million for the construction of girls high school. The money was misused and the project collapsed after six month. Most of the formal schools in Mathare were constructed by Nairobi city council in early eighties but due to corruption with top officials, the status of these schools are diminishing. The schools problems are poor performance in national exams, lack of teachers, a lot of children per class thus making it hard for teachers to teach. This is why many parents prefer to take their children to informal school.
In Mathare North there are more than seventy six informal schools both secondary and primary. A lot of children attend what are known as non-formal or informal schools. These are supported by communities, religious groups and other organizations by offering feeding programs (feed the children Kenya), text book distributions (DFID), and sponsorship programs by (well wishers) amongst other things. Most of these non formal schools in Mathare face many problems:
- Lack of Playing grounds i.e. recreational facilities
- Poor infrastructures in class rooms
- Huge numbers of orphans, displaced children and lack of space
- Lack of qualified teachers due to poor salaries
- Unfair distributions of Text book in schools
- Lack of food – many students are sleepy and unable to pay attention in class because there is not enough food for them at home or in school.
They say the presence of informal schools means that Kenya has two levels of education: One for the children from the slums, another for the children from better conditions.
There is a very big need of the government to assist this informal schools in Mathare because the problems are big and are spreading throughout Kenya.