JusTea has always had the goal of creating value for tea farmers in Kenya by generating new jobs, paying higher wages, and maintaining a direct relationship with the source of the tea. Starting out 4 years ago, little did we know the many off-shoots of positive change that would take place, like employing 50+ artisan families just in the carving of the little wooden spoons that we attach to our tea tins. Tea spoons – who would have thought?!
The most recent of these positive changes is through the new reading and writing initiative started by a few of the JusTeam members in Kenya. Every month, local students gather with a volunteer teacher to work on grammar, comprehension, etc. in an effort to improve their reading and writing levels.
Mostly the children of tea pluckers and farmers, the average Grade 2 student struggles to put a sentence of more than 5 words together. The reading and writing program focuses on children in this age range.
A few points on the literacy initiative:
- In many rural areas, education is still seen as a ‘luxury’ – something that is not universally accessible.
- The reading and writing initiative focuses on local students from the 3 nearest primary schools, each with about 800 students.
- Most school classrooms have a student to teacher ratio of 50:1, and a student to textbook ratio of 3:1
The whole initiative was started by Boaz and Jamilla – husband and wife, and the leaders of the JusTeam in Kenya. In Jamilla’s own words…
“Everyone has a story to tell. We are a community of people who love stories, some of these stories were passed and some of them are stories learned from life’s experiences. We would love it if these children were able to get story books. Through the story books, they can begin to improve their reading and writing skills, as well as start telling their own stories. Our dream is to have enough story books for each student.
Mastery of language breeds confidence. A student who can express himself well is a confident one. We would like to give these children the opportunity to experience that.
By the end of this year we hope to have enough reading materials in our community library where these students can access all the relevant and up-to date books. For now it’s one story at a time.”
Sept 8th is International Literacy Day. Help us fill the community library by purchasing online – as we will donate 10% of all online sales this week to the literacy initiative in Kenya.