As we approach International Day of Education tomorrow 24th January, we got a chance to speak to David Oloo who is the Director of Studies at M-Pesa Foundation Academy Thika. M-Pesa Foundation Academy is a leadership development institution that transforms the lives of under privileged students by delivering an innovative world class education through a holistic curriculum so that learners are principled, reflective, and open minded.
Here is what David had to say:
What are some of the values that the M-PESA Foundation academy upholds?
Mpesa Foundation Academy strives to offer value education to academically strong and talented students who come from financially disadvantaged backgrounds in Kenya but have leadership potential. Value education goes beyond imparting knowledge. It includes character building and personal development. The Academy aims to develop physical, social, moral, cultural, spiritual aspects of students and empowers them to make and internalize value judgement for themselves. To achieve this, the Academy deliberately exposes its students to strong leadership principles and programmes, technology, entrepreneurship and innovation that are expertly woven into its holistic International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum programmes.
The values at the Academy revolve around curiosity, transformational Leadership, Accountability, Innovation, Responsible citizenship and Excellence (CLAIRE). Transformational leaders are curious and explore new ideas and perspectives. They think critically and creatively in their pursuit for knowledge, discovery and growth. Such leaders are compassionate and caring change-makers who are open minded but principled as they inquire into issues dear to them locally and globally. They are also accountable both to themselves and the wider community for the decisions and risks they take. Their iterative reflections as they strive for personal and communal progress result in well thought-out innovations. Transformational leaders are empathetic, and productively engage with both their peers and the community as responsible citizens. Although they learn from their failures, they constantly work and communicate with others to attain excellence in what they do.
From these we derive our motto: Thinkers, Doers, Leaders.
How do students apply to join the school and what is the application process (the documents needed when applying)?
The admissions process involves direct application by interested students to the academy. The following criteria are considered:
Academic performance – applicants must meet a certain minimum threshold in terms of their scores for either KCPE or KPSEA examinations. These thresholds are determined annually by our admissions committee. Any student with good academic grades can apply, but they might be excluded if they do not meet the applied threshold for that year.
Citizenship – the Academy admits learners from all 47 counties across Kenya as well as refugee applicants. The refugees must have schooled in Kenya for at least 3 years and must be registered with UNHCR.
Financial need – applicants must be from genuinely economically disadvantaged backgrounds. This has to be verified by the Head Teachers of their primary schools and any of the following: District Officer /Chief/ Priest/ Pastor/Imam.
Academic timeline – Each applicant must be in their last year of primary school, registered to sit for their end of primary school national exams (KCPE for class 8 applicants and KPSEA for Grade 6 applicants) in the current year of application.
Age limits – Applicants must be between 13 to 15 years of age at the time of joining MYP 3 or 11 to 13 years for those joining MYP 2.
*Candidates who meet the above criteria will be invited to attend an interview. However, an interview is not a guarantee for admission to the Academy. The Academy reserves the right of admission.
After the release of KCPE results, the admission team will review the applications that are under consideration (merit list)
During the application process, the following documents are required:
- Applicant’s Birth Certificate.
- Parent/Guardian ID.
- Parent Death Certificate, where an applicant has a deceased parent.
- Academic reports for the LAST 3 YEARS signed and stamped with the official school stamp.
- Evidence of Co-curricular activity certificates.
- Evidence of leadership.
- Payslip of Parent/Guardian if employed.
- Any other document deemed relevant.
What is the selection criteria to determine the students being selected?
The following is the selection criteria:
- Applicant’s financial need
- Academic ability
- Leadership: Evidence in recommendations or certificates. (Check Q5 in both KCPE & CBC)
- Creativity, Innovation & entrepreneurship (Check Q3 in both KCPE & CBC
- Sports & Talent
How long is the admission process? The admissions cycle takes 10 months from the time forms are printed.
What is the primary age/learning level of students that are selected to join the school?
M-PESA Foundation Academy admits learners from Kenyan Primary schools across all 47 counties and the UNHCR. Leaners admitted from class 8 enter MYP 3 while those who will be admitted from Grade 6 under the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) for the first time in January 2023 will enter MYP 2. Age – applicants must be between 13 to 15 years of age at the time of joining MYP 3 or 11 to 13 years for those joining MYP 2.
In the case of two deserving students from the same area, how do you go about selecting the most outstanding?
Equally deserving students would be evaluated in terms of their academic performance, co-curricular performance and leadership potential.
How do the selected students receive their admission?
Calling letters (admission letters) are sent to the parents/ guardians of each successful applicant through G4S courier services.
Are students financially assisted during their time at the academy?
Students admitted to the MPESA Foundation Academy receive 100% scholarship. Tuition, boarding and personal effects are all provided for free of charge. The only cost the parent takes care of is the travel expenses from home to school at the start of every term and back to home at the end of each term.
What are some of the challenges you have experienced during the selection process?
• Dishonesty from parents, guardians or students is a challenge that we are always working hard to overcome in order to ensure that the most appropriate children are receiving this great opportunity.
• Insecurity is also a big challenge in some counties. One of the crucial ways we establish financial need is through home visits and when we cannot visit an applicant due to insecurities in their home area then establishing need becomes difficult.
During the school holiday breaks, what happens to the underprivileged students who might not be able to travel back to their homes?
The school supports the student by providing transport fees.
If the reason is that the home environment is not conducive or is hostile, the school engages the child welfare services for intervention. Most times, a relative is requested to host the student or another appropriate alternative solution is found for that child.
The academy is in the process of establishing partnerships with suitable foster homes that also provide a home for such students during the holiday break.
How established is the alumni society, and are they still involved with the school activities?
The school’s former students have a registered alumni association that is quite strong and meets regularly. Part of their efforts are mentorship to the students currently in the high school session. They are invited to various forums as panelists, and they help nurture the upcoming cohorts of students.
This year, they also have various community giveback projects that they are working on including fundraising activities for the school.