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Facing up the Challenges by Dr Stephen Walker

By June 10, 2020No Comments

As of April 2020, I have had the privilege of serving as Director of Teaching & Learning for 3 years and I am still learning how to face up to that challenge! Upon arrival at the Academy, the present Uongozi Scholars were in Form 2 and sitting on a combined academic average of D plain. The Academy was operating on a curriculum that was heavily based on role learning with no assessment around skills and thinking and yet our vision was based around producing ‘transformational leaders’ for the future. There was no room for developing 21st Century skills like problem solving, critical thinking and collaboration, all key skills for future leaders. The heavily content based curriculum left little time to schedule Entrepreneurial Leadership or STEAM or the President’s Award programs, never mind a truly effective pastoral care program. As much as the Academy’s hardworking teachers tried to teach the curriculum in a more student-centred way, it was like trying to push a giant bolder up a very rocky hill. We also needed as many of our students to transition onto University, furthering their education and eventually taking their places as the leaders of tomorrow. But how could we achieve that with a mean academic grade of a D plain?

Something had to change, and quickly. We had to focus on the academic improvement of students if we were to stand any chance of transitioning them on to University. We then introduced the ‘Personalised Learning’ programs for students struggling in certain subjects and the ‘High Achievers’ program to expand our B and A subject grades.

The Form 4 students of 2019 worked so hard with their teachers over their last 2 years in the Academy and didn’t loose heart through the long and difficult process of lifting their grades.

By the time that our first candidate class came to sit their KCSE examinations in November of 2019, they were well prepared, calm and very focussed on achieving success. We were all extremely delighted when we learnt that they had lifted their mean grade over 2 years from a D plain to a B minus in the KCSE examinations of 2020 – that is a massive achievement by both

students and teachers alike, well done to all of you. We are delighted to report that we have aimed at 100% transition of the present Uongozi Scholars onto university this autumn, with 24 scholars gaining places at US universities, 74

going to UK universities and 4 students transitioning onto USIU, Strathmore University and University of Nairobi! They have truly set the bar high for our future candidate classes. The Academy is a great supporter of the President’s Award (PA) program which compliments our vision so well because it develops self confidence, personal development, community awareness and leadership skills. I am delighted to report that all Form 3 completed their Gold Awards last year, and 192 students were due to attend State House in March for the award ceremony before the COVID-19 outbreak. 192 students, from one institution, gaining Gold Awards in PA is a Kenyan record and we await verification that it may even be a global record!

Well done to all the students and the staff for the successful delivery of this program in the Academy throughout 2019.

The Elite Sports Academy’s have also grown in strength. This was the first year that our Rugby Academy competed in the Kenya Secondary Sports competitions and as of the date of writing, they have qualified for the Regional Finals which is a massive achievement and we wish them well as they try to qualify for the National Finals. The Football Academy has also further developed its program, British Sports Limited who oversee the MFA Football Academy, have bought CommercialUnited, based in Thika. This young, semi-professional squad now train alongside our own Football Academy and we have agreed that talented players from MFA will be absorbed into the Commercial Utd squad as appropriate, thereby giving talented players an early taste of the step up required into the professional game. Our Basketball Academy has now been admitted into the NBA Junior Basketball League in Kenya and will start competing once COVID restrictions are lifted. NBA Africa also still plan to hold their Basketball Clinics for talented youth players from East Africa at the Academy and now that Safaricom are sponsoring this partnership, we foresee our Basketball teams going on to reach new heights going forward. Our talented athletes also continue to train at the elite training camp at Iten. So sport at the Academy is also looking very healthy!

As we embark upon a process of curriculum review at the Academy, the next few years are going to be very exciting as new opportunities unfold for students and staff alike. I am very happy to be your DTL at this enthralling time in the Academy’s history. Let us all go forward and ‘face the challenge’!

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