Somewhere during the interim between the previous school term and this term, the National Government of Kenya closed down the school that was in the vicinity of the church because they determined that the school was not providing the “standard education.” I am assuming that they made this determination because in their judgment it did not reach the levels of educational standards that they have set for their schools.
This has forced the children to attend another school where the fees are much higher. I am not speaking of just a small increase. Averaged over the entire school year, the cost per secondary school has risen from $38 for each of the three terms, compared to $366 for the cost per term in the new school. It has been a long time since I have been in mathematics class, but by my calculations, that is a 900 percent increase!
It is not quite that dramatic for the lower grades, but nevertheless, any time you multiply the costs by 42 (the number of children that we have in the school), the final product is a very high number.
And it is not only the school fees. There have been recent price increases in almost every sector of life in Kenya. One example is the cost of paper. Last year Kenya introduced a ban on plastic store bags to help combat litter and pollution in general. It was a noble move in many regards, but not one without negative consequences. Because the stores now need to provide mostly paper bags, it has caused a general paper shortage.
This shortage has put an additional strain on sending the children to school. Each student in secondary school needs to have 11 notebooks, at a cost of about $2 each (these are notebooks which I saw at the store here for 19¢). We have 8 children in secondary school, so providing notebooks for them costs an additional $176 per term. Keep in mind also that this is in an area where the average daily wage for a laborer is about $1 per day.
The reality of the situation at this time is that the cost of schooling has become so great that the school fees alone exceed the levels of funds that have been available to us. That means that even if we stopped buying food for the children and abandon plans to build a place for them to sleep, we still would not have enough money to send them all to school.
Because of this, we have decided to pull all of the children out of school except for the 8 secondary students. It is the final term of their school year, and since they are nearing the end of their education, we want to try and give them the most help that we can.
We have a saying in the US—“Education is fundamental.” It is an easy thing to say when the general standard of living is high. But education is not really “fundamental.” The primary things in life are food and housing. These things are fundamental for life itself.
Because of the present situation, we have decided to concentrate on these things until we see the Lord bring about a new way. We lay all of these difficulties at the feet of Jesus and wait to see what he will do.