Amazing:Inside Kenya’s trendiest and most expensive school


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The classroom looks like a computer lab. Only that it is eight-year-olds busy on the laptops and iPads as the teacher introduces today’s lesson. It is history for Year 4 pupils.

In an ordinary Kenyan school, one would find them crowding their heads on a dog-eared book that has seen better days. The lesson would probably be about the origins of “our” people, phenomena and what to find in the school’s environment.

Not in this school in Nairobi’s Karen neighbourhood. Here, each of the pupils is glued to a laptop or iPad with Wi-Fi connection.

Their teacher, Ms Rachel Cain, is also working on a laptop. Everyone is tech-savvy at Kenya’s trendiest and most expensive school, the GEMS Cambridge International School. It is arguably Nairobi’s newest school, being only three months old.

In the history class, Ms Cain is teaching her pupils how to create historical timelines. She asks each of them to choose a favourite musician. They are then to search on the Internet and create a timeline of events that define the musician’s career.

“As you can see,” Ms Cain explains, pointing at one of the pupils, “this one is dealing with Michael Jackson. The idea is for them to get creative.”

The pupils trawl the web collecting details and arranging them in a chronological order. No fuss. Everything goes on seamlessly.

The scenario is similar in a separate classroom, where another “social studies” lesson is on-going. Each of the pupils has been assigned a topic such as murder, rape and drug abuse to research on. They are using iPads to obtain information from the Internet on the topics of their choice.

When the information is gathered each will create a PowerPoint document on their laptops and use the projector available in the classroom to make a presentation to the rest of the class.

“They are using the iPads to get pictures and videos on these topics and transfer them to the laptop for final presentation,” explains Hannington Mauka, the subject teacher.

This is the trend at the GEMS Cambridge International School, which opened its doors in September this year. The British-system school offers the Cambridge school examinations.

Sitting on 17 acres off Magadi Road in the Karen suburbs, it cost the management Sh3 billion ($35 million) to put up the campus and install all the learning facilities.

The construction lasted just six months between February and August this year.

In its three months of operation, the school, which has a capacity of 1,080, has admitted 70 pupils of 15 nationalities.

A look at the school and the amenities shows not only quality but also affluence.

One of the managers aptly describes it as a home away from home for the pupils.

It is not a school for the children of the average wage earner. It would cost a cool Sh22 million to take a child through the school from the foundation stage (FS) 1 to Year 13. And you won’t even be done with the secondary education.

Under the British system, one needs to study up to Year 18 before going to university.

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