2013 was a landmark year for our relationship with Kenyan partner school Agoro Oyombe. In July, 19 West Buckland students visited Agoro Oyombe and in December, 8 Kenyan students spent two weeks at West Buckland School.
The next student visits are planned for 2015. The student exchange visits are the culmination of many years spent by both schools in developing the partnership.
In 2005, the Geography department first initiated links with Agoro Oyombe School near the shores of Lake Victoria in western Kenya. The school was founded in the late 1980s with one teacher and two pupils. There are now 14 teachers and about 500 pupils.
In January 2006, Fredrick Odhiambo, an English teacher at Agoro Oyombe visited West Buckland. Jack Dougall and Matthew Brimson from the Geography department visited Kenya in October 2007 to further develop the partnership, and since then the links have grown.
The main purpose of the link is for students at both schools to take part in joint curriculum projects. These have also developed in other subjects such as Food and Nutrition, Biology, English and Enrichment. The main Geography projects include:
- A study of the flower trade in Kenya. Year 8 pupils at West Buckland have send letters entitled 'Would you want to work on a flower farm?'
- A study of the weather and climate at both schools. Weather instruments sent by West Buckland have been used to collect data at Agoro Oyombe. This data has been compared with our own weather station data.
- At both schools, students are to given a survey in which they have to describe their own lives and aspirations. They also complete the survey from the perceived point of view of a student in Kenya or the UK. The completed surveys are mailed between schools each year and the responses by the other students analysed.
- Students at both schools complete carbon footprint surveys. This initiates discussion about the differences in energy use between families in Kenya and the UK.
A tree planting programme was undertaken as part of West Buckland's 150th anniversary celebrations and to offset the carbon emissions produced via the school's day to day activities. Several specimens were planted by students at Agoro Oyombe, including Gravelea, Eucalyptus/Blue Gum and Acacia. Agoro Oyombe has now planted 4000 trees in total. They will benefit from the trees in several ways including: a focus for lessons in agriculture, fuel for the kitchen, construction materials as the school expands, electricity poles that can be sold on the local market, a reduction in surface run-off, an increase in nutrient supply to the soil, a windbreak for the playing fields and shade for football spectators.
The December 2013 visit from Kenyan students to West Buckland saw more trees planted at West Buckland and to date both schools planted over 5500 trees between them.