Dignitas Partner School Profile: Umoja Primary School
Years Since Founded
Welcome to Umoja Primary School!
Umoja is located in Kangemi, an informal settlement in Nairobi’s west and home to an estimated 120,000 people. Founded in 2008, the primary school provides education to over 400 students from Baby Class (3-4 year olds) through to Class Six.
Like most schools in marginalized communities, Umoja is a low-cost private school; it receives zero funding from the government. Parents pay school fees and also sponsor the breakfast and lunch program.
There are twelve teachers on staff. Many of the teachers have no formal teaching qualifications, but they all hold a strong belief in the power of education.
Umoja is a Swahili word that means ‘togetherness’.
A partnership with Dignitas begins…
In 2014 Dignitas was expanding into new communities, including Kangemi. Umoja Primary met our core criteria for partnership and the school was accepted into the Dignitas Leadership Institute. Here’s how our relationship has unfolded…
The first cohort of Umoja staff attended the April Leadership Training Institute, a three week intensive program that introduces ideas and concepts to empower educators to be inspiring leaders and excellent teachers.
Umoja teachers are matched with a Dignitas coach and one-on-one teacher mentoring commences. Coaching builds on the concepts covered at LTI and focuses on the practical application of new skills and ideas.
During school holidays, Umoja teachers attend the August Professional Development Workshops. PD workshops are designed to cover issues best addressed in a group setting and to build on the foundation laid at the LTI.
In partnership with Tailored For Education, Dignitas distributes over 300 uniforms to Umoja students. Parents contribute 50 shillings per uniform into a pooled fund and the school community uses the money to renovate leaky classrooms.
The second cohort of Umoja staff attend the November LTI. Dignitas uses the multiple cohort approach to ensure a critical mass of school staff are motivated and equipped to support school transformation.
Umoja teachers join Dignitas Fellows from other schools on a school exchange visit to learn with Makini Primary School, one of the highest performing schools in Kenya.
Umoja receives new learning resources through the Dignitas Wezesha program, a small grants project for infrastructure and resource projects. The textbooks are sponsored by Women Leaders in Action.
Umoja will continue to receive coaching and training over the next two to three years to ensure Umoja staff are well-equipped to independently drive school improvements and development beyond the partnership with Dignitas. Read more about our gradual release approach and partnership progression here.
Meet a few of the Umoja Dignitas Fellows…
Seven of Umoja’s twelve teachers are currently Dignitas Fellows. Dignitas aims to engage 70% of educators at each school to ensure a critical mass of staff are inspired and empowered to lead school transformation. Here we profile four Umoja Dignitas Fellows…
“Dignitas has improved and changed the face of Umoja!”
Head Teacher + Swahili, Mathematics and Social Studies Teacher
Onditi joined the staff recently and hasn’t yet attended a LTI. But he has benefitted from PD workshops on school leadership and has been working with Dignitas Coach Richard. As Head Teacher, Onditi is responsible for school management as well as teaching three subjects. His favorite? Mathematics!
“The difference between Dignitas and other training is that at Dignitas they listen to you.”
Class Two Teacher
Sally was inspired to teach by her parents who were both teachers themselves. Before her involvement in Dignitas, Sally says she would get frustrated when her students couldn’t grasp a lesson. Now, she has the skills to know how to handle it and a toolkit of techniques to try a different approach.
“Through Dignitas, I’ve improved my teaching methodologies. I teach like a champion!”
Mathematics, Swahili and Christian Religious Education Teacher
Collins believes his students are the future doctors, teachers and leaders of Kenya and encourages them to start acting like it now. He regularly reminds his class: ‘The sky is the limit!’ Collins credits Dignitas in introducing him to individualized education plans and empowering him to teach like a leader.
“My personal motto is ‘I don’t believe in impossibilities!’ Everything is possible!”
English, Mathematics and Science Teacher
Alex is passionate about education because he has seen it transform his own life. He used to walk into the classroom and just start teaching, but at the LTI he learnt about lesson planning and has found it incredibly useful. Alex also really appreciates working with Coach Richard, who he says ‘has been so resourceful to us!’
Meet the Dignitas Coach who mentors Umoja Teachers…
Coaching is core to the Dignitas approach. Richard has been working with Umoja Dignitas Fellows in the classroom setting, providing mentoring personalized to each teacher’s unique skills and needs.
Richard has been coaching Umoja teachers on classroom management, teaching methodologies and techniques. Coaching sessions usually occur at least twice a term and continue for a minimum of a year. By building an ongoing relationship, Richard is able to track teachers progress and ensure the concepts and skills covered at the LTI and PD workshops are successfully implemented in Umoja classrooms.
“I enjoy coaching because at the end of every term I see improvements in our teachers.”
Because every Umoja student deserves an excellent education…
Ultimately the reason we partner with Umoja is because, like the Umoja team, we believe every child deserves an excellent education. So to wrap up this school profile, let’s meet some of the Umoja students!
Clinton - Class 6
“I want to be a doctor!”
Tracy - Class 6
“A great teacher is a teacher who gives you knowledge to learn!”
Sheila - Class 6
“When I grow up, I want to be a teacher so I can teach the pupils the way my teachers are teaching me now. And I can teach my children too!”
Abdi - Class 6
“I want to be an engineer, so I can make cars for people and do electrical jobs.”
Alex - Class 6
“I like school because I want to learn, and achieve more.”
Mercy - Class 6
When Mercy grows up, she wants to manage a company. She just hasn’t decided what type of company yet.