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If you don't know about it, here is a link to the thread concerning Safaritalk's sponsorship of two female students at Koiyaki Guiding School, located in Naboisho Conservancy, adjacent to the Maasai Mara Reserve. http://safaritalk.net/topic/9806-safaritalk-guiding-scholarship/?hl=koiyaki I had the chance to visit the Koiyaki Guiding School while I was staying in Naboisho Conservancy adjacent to the Maasai Mara recently. I just wanted to see what it was like and maybe casually check how the Safaritalk-sponsored students are doing, so I didn’t pre-flag myself as a “sponsor’s representative”. Since my guide from Encounter Mara, Daniel Ntika, was a graduate himself (and a very successful one) I didn’t need anyone else to show me around. It is only 10 minutes from camp and so we just popped in on the way back from following lions for a few hours. The Principal, Simon Nkoitoi, wasn’t there, but we went to announce my presence to the Deputy Principal, Julius Kiseimei. He was already very pleased to have a visitor, and that pleasure doubled when I told him I was part of the group from Safaritalk who were sponsoring two women currently enrolled. Definitely do not hesitate to drop by when you are in Olare Motorogi or Naboisho (good excuse for someone staying in Olare Motorogi or the reserve near Talek Gate to take a legal peek at Naboisho, actually – you could easily see something interesting on the way). The school Assistant Principal Julius Kisemei The school reminded me of other proudly run, basically funded rural schools I have seen in developing countries, although of course they do quite a bit of the learning outside, and that is where they all were today – learning to drive a truck in preparation for taking their HGV tests. The curriculum is clearly based on a vocational school and the place has that kind of feeling – oil as well as chalk. If you’re like me you’ll not have thought that of the training and learning, the birds, animals, ecology and plants are only part of the story, and key subjects at the school are things like driving and basic mechanics, geography, first aid and communications (they need to learn how to communicate with foreign guests, understand what they need, and how to present things to them). Another surprise is that their students can now come from all over the country if they have the sponsorship, although the vast majority (around 85% says Daniel) are still Maasai. The school also runs short courses open to anyone in the local community, such as foreign languages. The intention of all is to teach people in the local communities skills that will help them benefit appropriately from the safari boom on their doorstep, and that wider responsibility is actually more at the heart of their mission than simply turning out Kenya Professional Guides Association qualified guides. This, reading between lines, is what I understand. They take just over 20 students a year (basically one classroom full) and have a very high graduation rate. Although I don’t know exactly how many graduates have gone on to get Bronze Medals, I believe it is more than 50% (probably substantially more, but keep in mind the KPGA qualification is not the sole goal of all students - employability is first) with at least 10% now having Silver Medals – a number growing as rewards from the camps for improved qualifications increase. The school recorded 16 or so Silver Medal alumni as of last year, but Daniel thinks that is seriously understated and that the actual figure is now in the high 20s but the school haven’t updated their records. Daniel should know, as one of the early Koiyaki Silver Medalists (2009) but I am sure there are real stats somewhere - keeping in mind Kenyan stats are often out of date. So don't go quoting theses figures with certainty - it just gives you an idea. The honor roll - graduates of Koiyaki by year. Hopefully you can click on this to see a big enough picture to play look for your guide. Daniel and Benjamin (our guide at Kicheche in 2009) are there in the first class. The current class is not in this picture as it was obscured by other paper (it's not history yet!). Note the stats on the left-hand side are for up to 2008!! But of course the class of 2013-2014 is most interesting to us and Daniel found it for us. There are actually about 6 female students this year I think. While I was there a couple of students came back from their driving lessons to say hello, including one of the students that we sponsor, Sophy. People really appreciate it that you sponsor students here, as they clearly love their school and are grateful for the opportunities it has brought or will bring them. I went up two levels on the Daniel respect ladder instantly when he found out, even though I told him my personal role was insignificant as a group of us had come together to do it. The rest of you should definitely visit to get that feeling of what it means. I am not someone who likes that kind of attention at all, and I really only ‘fessed up on behalf of the rest of you – go and see yourself. I'd have stayed incognito if I thought I could. Despite the lack of correspondence from the Director, my feeling is that the people there are not at all indifferent. And Sophy is really quite impressive – confident but not too much so, and clearly intelligent and attentive. I am sure she is going to be a fine guide and camp owners if you don’t snap her up now, you can’t cry when you hear of her raking in the tourists by word of mouth at another camp! She says thanks to you all and that this is something that is really great for her. I didn’t ask to see either of the women and I didn’t ask Sophy why she doesn’t write, before you ask (hahaha). Like I said, I didn’t really want attention. I did feel I had to ask the Deputy Principal why the Principal doesn’t write, and he looked pained and said to please email him (the Deputy Princiipal). He checks his email and promises he will reply if we do. So how cool is school? Students say hi to Safaritalk More mugging for the camera and I smell a bit of true romance among the usual Maasai bromance! Sophy, a teacher (I think) and the proud alumni Daniel And of course I managed to put my foot in my mouth. Another two students came to say hi and thanks, in lieu of the other student we sponsor. Just because it was what they were studying, I asked the girl if she was finding the truck driving difficult, without thinking that was probably the most obvious question to ask a woman in the world (Why didn’t I just come out with “That wheel must be a bit heavy, love. Can your wee feet reach the pedals?”). But she wasn’t at all put out, rolled her eyes and said she had no problem with it – and she was better than the guy (in the picture) sniggering at my question beside her. To his credit, he admitted that was true. This is another who is going to be a hit as a guide. In the classrooms – current topics were clearly the stars at night and of course the driving. Looks like there has been a nasty accident in the simulation! A small snake collection. Early days - getting familiar with some facts about the wildlife. And don't forget where you come from. And after the photo Sophy ran off and then came back to give me (on behalf of us all) some gifts, which I wore for the rest of the day. Daniel took the picture and seems to have focused on the wall, but I think the resulting soft focus favors me, although Daniel's near NBA height does neither of us a favor. Not sure which prankster student slipped a turtle under my jumper though. Little devil! Really nice visit and close to a perfect morning - but I'll wait for the full trip report to explain why that was!
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