Locked up in hope: Kabete Rehabilitation School

From afar, the Kabete Rehabilitation Centre seems like a normal primary school. On closer scrutiny, one, however, notices several police vehicles parked near the Administration Police post at the entrance of the school. This together with the heavy grills installed on doors and windows around the institution indicate that although the establishment is a learning institution, it is also an isolation facility. Established in 1910 by the colonial government, the Kabete Rehabilitation School is currently home to 81 boys who have been confined for committing both serious crimes, and petty offenses. The school is run through collaboration between the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection and caters to children sentenced to a maximum of three years confinement. The school only admits under-age individuals who cannot be sent to normal jail since they need delicate nurturing and access to education.

Milestones and challenges

 
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The rehabilitation centre boasts of behavioral change in 90% of boys who go through the system. This is observed through the Children’s Department, which performs follow ups on the boys once they have completed their rehabilitation terms. With the assistance of parents, the

Children’s Department officers observe behavioral patterns in the boys once they are re-admitted into the society, making reports on a monthly basis. Because the boys learn technical skills like carpentry and masonry while at the Centre, it is hard for them to go back to a life of crime. Instead, it is noted that many boys get admitted into blue collar jobs and earn an honest living. Despite this reformation milestone, the school faces a myriad of problems that all arise from lack of funding.

The government only provides food, clothing and beddings to the boys. Other essential needs like toiletries and shoes are catered for by the school and parents. Approval of government funds is always delayed, and the school has to take essential items from suppliers on credit. Apart from government support, the school does not have any other source of funding, making running of the school difficult since all aspects of administration rely on finance. Recently, the school had a month long power blackout after the Kenya Power Company disconnected power supply over an accrued power bill of sh400, 000.

Educational challenges

 
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Class eight students in class. Despite their determination, many of the boys are slow learners. This combined with an acute understaffing at the institution makes it difficult to exhaustively cover laid out curricula

The school, which runs from class five to class eight, has only three teachers. In addition to understaffing in the teaching department, the school is also short of classrooms; currently, class five and six have to share a classroom. Non-teaching staff at the institution are 24 in total, spread across departments such as security, healthcare, kitchen, farm, and clerical.

Even after power restoration, the students at the Kabete Rehabilitation Centre cannot attend night and morning preps because of erroneous internal power cabling. Presently, only class eight has power. Despite all these educational challenges, the students at the centre perform relatively well in national examinations, granted their circumstances as shown in the table below:

 
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The school has a computer lab equipped with 21 Dell machines and a server for internet connectivity. Most of the times, however, students have no internet access because the connection has to be topped up monthly and because of the meager funding that the school receives, other expenses are prioritized over payment for internet.

Running on the code of Smartness, Cleanliness, Honesty, Obedience, Observation, and Loyalty, the boys at the Kabete Rehabilitation Centre all look forward to leaving the institution and rejoining their families as better individuals. Many dream of joining high school and university and pray every day that well-wishers address the problems in the school, so that they can have equal learning opportunities as other children of their age attending normal schools.

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