Kisima School

TEFT raises funds to support Kisima School which is working with communities mainly in northern Kenya, in particular pastoralist communities.

Northern Kenya is a marginalised region with virtually no public services suffering recurrent drought, banditry and violent conflict. Most people are traditional nomadic pastoralists (herders who move their livestock – goats, cattle, sheep, camels – from place to place in search of water and pasture) facing increasingly difficult living conditions. High numbers are illiterate and many now depend on relief aid for survival.

Kisima School offers the chance for young people from these communities to transform their lives through the opportunity of education. Students at Kisima School come from different tribes and faiths and learn to live happily together free from the conflict and civil war that blights many of their communities in the struggle for scarce resources. Attending secondary school and then university gives these children the hope of steering themselves out of dependence and marginalisation and bringing new life to their families and communities.

Opened in 2005, Kisima School is a free residential school for 160 boys and girls aged between 14 and 18 years. School places are divided equally between boys and girls. TEFT funded the original purchase of the 5 acre site and construction of the school in 2001. Since then TEFT has supported the school’s annual running costs and other capital projects.

Kisima School’s first class took their Kenyan Certificate of Secondary Education in 2008 and since then on average 94% have achieved university entrance grades. In 2020 every single student achieved these grades – the national average is 31%.

Visit the Kisima website


2019 Results

  • Kisima School was the 18th best secondary school in Kenya, out of 10,287 schools
  • Students with a C+ grade or higher are eligible for government support to attend university.
  • 100% of students achieved a university entrance grade

Kisima School Alumni: What happens next?

Kisima School alumni have gone on to study a whole range of subjects including accountancy, agriculture, analytical chemistry, computer science, engineering, HR management, international development, nursing and teaching. A number of students have been awarded full scholarships to universities in Kenya as well as China, Costa Rica, Poland and the US.

Increasing numbers of Kisima School alumni who have graduated from university have now returned to their home areas and are working in a range of employment including engineering, finance, IT, medicine and teaching. Many are paying for their siblings to attend school as they know education is the key to unlocking a new future for their families and communities.

There is an active Kisima School Alumni who stay in touch with one another and support Kisima School in various ways.

Simon Eris

Simon is from Nalingangor, a remote area of Samburu County in northern Kenya. Simon is one of 10 siblings and growing up was, in Simon’s words, ‘very tough’. His family were extremely poor, nomadic pastoralists who had lost all their livestock to raiders. They could only afford to eat one meal a day, mostly a supper of light porridge. Simon walked four miles to primary school and back each day.

Simon excelled at Kisima School and achieved a very high A- result in his Kenyan Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) in his final year. He was offered a place at one of Kenya’s best universities, the University of Nairobi, to study BSc Food & Nutrition. He was the top student on his course and graduated with a first class honours degree. He was offered a full scholarship to study for a masters degree but turned it down to take up an offer of employment which would enable him to pay the school fees for one of his sisters.

Simon is now back in his home county working for a health and nutrition project supported by USAID and implemented by the US NGO Family Health International 360. Simon teaches women about health, hygiene and nutrition and gives practical cooking demonstrations. He also works on a special project with women who are iron deficient, particularly during pregnancy.

Simon is very active in the Kisima Alumni network and hopes to study for a masters degree in the future when he has finished paying for his sister’s school fees.

Joan Akiru

Joan is from Natiti, also a remote area of Samburu County in northern Kenya, where she grew up with her single-parent mother and brother. Joan’s mother had no livestock and only survived through working as a casual labourer. On her very small income buying food was a constant struggle and there were days when they had nothing to eat.

Joan attended primary school through a government programme which also provided meals and stationery. She proved to be a very bright student, also enjoying music and representing her school in athletics competitions. Joan again excelled at Kisima School and achieved a very high A- grade in her KCSE. She was offered a place at Kimathi University’s School of Engineering where she graduated with a BSc Electrical & Electronic Engineering.

Joan is now working as an Electrical Engineer for the Danish company Vestas Wind Systems on the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project. This is a flagship project in Kenya, attracting the largest single investment in Kenya’s history. The wind farm covers 40,000 acres in the Loiyangalani district of Marsabit county in northern Kenya.

Joan’s employment allows her to support her mother, who she has helped to set up her own small business, and her grandmother who was such a support to Joan as a child. She is also paying for one of her cousin’s university fees and donating to an education foundation that sponsors needy students in her home area. Joan is an active member of the Kisima Alumni network and plans to become more involved with schools and mentorship programmes in her home area when work permits.

Simon and Joan are inspiring examples of the transformational potential of education which is at the heart of both TEFT’s and Kisima’s vision. For Joan in particular this is a remarkable achievement. In the traditional pastoralist communities of northern Kenya where polygamy is often the norm and the practice of FGM remains endemic in many places, girls are simply viewed as marriageable prospects, attracting a ‘bride price’ of livestock for their families when married. Girls as young as 10 years are married, often to much older men, and may be ‘betrothed’ or ‘beaded’ from a very young age. Kisima School is firmly committed to equality of opportunity for both girls and boys and therefore half of all places are awarded to girls.

A message from Joan:

I am and will forever be grateful to the Kisima fraternity. They saw potential in me and nurtured it and helped me be the woman I am today. And being the first woman engineer from my area, and amongst the few female engineers from the pastoralist communities, I will dedicate my life to enlightening my community in educating women and appreciating the girl child.

There are many more Kisima students now following in the footsteps of Simon and Joan, like Joseph Lengugwani and Mariam Godana Galgalo, and many more children in the primary schools of northern Kenya hoping for the life-changing chance to come to Kisima School.

Kisima Trust

Kisima School is overseen by Kisima Trust. TEFT works closely with Kisima Trust to review and evaluate the grants TEFT makes in support of the Trust’s work.

Trustees and Sponsorship Co-ordinator with UK visitors
(Photo, from left to right)

Trustee: Isaack Kairu – Deputy Head of a state secondary school in Nakuru, a graduate of Kenya Science Teachers’ College.

David Cansdale – part of a visiting delegation to the school from Chorleywood, UK.

Trustee: Bishop Jacob Alkan Lesuuda - Bishop of Maralal Diocese in northern Kenya, originally a herdsboy from Samburu county, northern Kenya, started primary school aged 13 years and became a teacher before entering the Anglican Church of Kenya.

Richard Walton – Chair, The Educational Frontier Trust.

Trustee: Daniel Amunga – Principal of Kisima School, a graduate of the University of Nairobi’s School of Education and Science, BEd: Lingistics & Literature with a post-graduate qualification in Mass Communication.

Trustee: Mary Wairimu Okech – a Director of Trade and Enterprise Development for Nyandarua county government, previously worked in microfinance development and for the Anglican Church of Kenya.

Sponsorship Co-ordinator: Catherine Maina - Kisima School’s day-to-day link with the UK, responsible for liaising with sponsors, volunteers and other supporters.

Trustee: David Kariuki – Founder and Director of Kisima School, a graduate of the University of Nairobi’s School of Education and Science, BEd: Linguistics & Literature.