What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?
The defining moment for Our Lady of Nazareth Primary School occurred in 1997, when the Marianists took over the management of the school from the Sisters of Mercy. At that time, the school population was approximately 900, the school facilities were underdeveloped and the compound completely lacked trees. Under the leadership of the Marianists and the Administrative Council, the student population has reached more than 1700; computer, music, art, feeding and counseling programs have been established; and more than 6000 trees have been planted. In addition, partnerships between local businesses, NGOs, primary schools in other countries and individual supporters have grown tremendously. Also beginning in 1997, the Marianists hired additional staff and increased the size and quality of the library. This year, the Marianists have opened a family centre located near the school, to address the needs and challenges of the students’ parents through adult education, counseling and empowerment.
Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.
The manager, Fr. Martin Solma, works with the seven-member Administrative Council as a team to run the school, implement policies and devise new programs. The council includes representation from the library, counseling and bursar departments, as well as the Senior, Deputy and Head Teachers. Several of the members have worked at Our Lady of Nazareth for more than ten years and all have specialized knowledge to contribute to the group. The Administrative Council meets approximately three times per month to discuss new possibilities for school programming, to assess their desirability and feasibility and to approve new initiatives. Through discussion and coordinated efforts, the members of the Council address the challenges facing the school, common issues arising among staff or students and any potential barriers to the effective provision of services for the children.
How did you first hear about Changemakers?
The school librarian saw a notice about Changemakers in the Daily Nation, Kenya’s major national newspaper, and forwarded it to the main office.