Ruben Centre Kenya and Edmund Rice Education Beyond Borders
Humans have been wondering for Centuries, ‘Have we extra terrestrial life out there?” Relatives maybe?
In these times, all sorts of groups and institutions have established sophisticated listening devices in the hope of picking up any signs of this life.
Our Ruben F M station for over a year now has been transmitting online to the far and wide, in the hope of picking up signs of life beyond the Mukuru slums. Ruben FM as a community radio station has a license to transmit only in a kilometer radius and although this is reaching over half a million Kenyans, the Station team have been hoping for more and this is why they have gone online.
Well finally all that effort has paid off and yes, ‘ they are out there.’ Ruben FM has been reached out to by Edmund Rice Education Beyond Borders ( EREBB) who last week requested an opportunity to make contact and to get to know us better.
So Who are these Aliens ( Code name EREBB ) reaching out to us in the Nairobi Slums?
So in response lets clarify who we are so we can move to the next phase.
Ruben Centre is a faith-based organization striving for an empowered and just Mukuru community by providing quality education, health, financial and social services to children and families in Mukuru community.
The Ruben Centre is a non-profit, charity organization run by the Christian Brothers African Province. It is one of eight Christian Brother’s project sites across Africa, and offers educational, health and community development programmes to the residents of one of the largest slums in Nairobi (known as both the Ruben Slum as well as Mukuru community).
The establishment of the primary school in 1986 saw the beginning of what is now known as the Ruben Centre. Sister Mary Killeen, a Mercy Sister was the founder of this school. In 1992, the management of the school was handed over to the Japanese NGO African Education Fund (AEF). In 1995, the first class of KCPE students completed their primary education. However the AEF withdrew after six years, leaving the school and fledgling clinic they had established in a precarious state. Sr. Mary Killeen continued again as the Administrator.
In 1998 the first Teachers Service Commission teachers were employed, and the school was registered as a Kenyan government school. Vocational Classes for Carpentry and Dress Making and Tailoring were also started. In 2000 the Christian Brothers responded to Sr. Mary’s invitation to administer Ruben Centre, as it became known. In 2001, Br. Bob Aron the first Christian Brother Manager initiated some developments, including drainage, playing field and toilets. However the most significant new development was the building of a police post by the Christian Brothers, bringing with it improved security and a new confidence within the local community, concerning the Centre’s permanence. In 2003 the very primitive clinic was replaced by a new modern Clinic, which offered more services. Also that year, the Kenyan government initiated free primary education and this ushered in a huge expansion in the student population. Since then the Ruben Centre has extensively grown and to date we have eight operational programs.
An empowered and just Mukuru community.
To offer quality education, health, financial and socio – economic services to children and families in Mukuru community.
So what are these Aliens calling out for?
May be the answer lies deep within their statement of identity “inclusive international network of Edmund Rice educational communities.’
RUBEN FM EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM
Ruben Center, with a womb to tomb programs realized the need for a medium to communicate to the community and get feedback thus Ruben FM come to birth in 2015.
Ruben FM is sponsored by Planet Wheeler Foundation. The station began to air content in 2016 with the radio going on air on 16th November and being launched on 19th of the same month. According to the Kenya Audience Research Foundation report on 2019 listenership, the radio has over 350,000 listeners at any given point across the day. This makes Ruben FM be the most listened to community radio nationwide and number seven among all radio within the city.
Our education programs began on 26th November with Sauti Ya Mtoto ( Voice of the child) which runs from 9am to 11am followed by Bewa la Lugha which runs from 11am to 2pm. The objective of these education programs was to link up all schools in the slum, both primary and secondary.
Sauti ya mtoto (Voice for the child) program targets lower primary school. The program runs content ranging from children’s stories, children games and art, general knowledge content, Kenyan Curriculum content and other issues pertaining to education and parenting across the two hour it is on air.
Bewa mseto (Youth assortment) program targets the adolescents and the teens who are always mostly in high school. The program contents includes Kenya Secondary school curriculum content, adolescents’ health-related behavior (SRH), the youth lifestyle and the evolving issues in the life of a youth among others.
The programs have evolved over time and even to this day are the core of school education content in Ruben FM.
With a stable online streaming as from 2019, the program has gone from a local program to a national program.
The online streaming enables us to be international. In the new set up we brought in social development of the kids to add onto the already enriching content. Having brought in the outside broadcast machine, we now hope to have more flexibility in terms of location for the broadcasts and this hopefully will fuel greater ownership and participation within the slum schools.
During this time when all schools called off as a result of the pandemic, the Ruben FM education programs have come in handy to give the schools some ongoing curriculum content.
Our program schedule have been adjusted to offer the much needed online education where content from the government portal on curriculum is part of our content with four spots each forty minutes every day on weekday, five hours on Saturday and three hours on Sunday.
Impact of Covid – 19
This reaching out comes at a time of pandemic that is ravaging the world community. It is no point in listing the numbers who have died or who are sick because the high rate of infection will render the statistics out of date in minutes.
The framework of EREBB is international and I am picking up on the word ‘ inclusive’ that they use. This pandemic has shown us all that the days of living in isolation as a country, people, and tribe are over. Like it or not the global community is here and it will live and die ( preferably live ) as such.
We are all interconnected and really brothers and sisters. EREBB have reached out to Ruben Centre as a brother and we wish to respond to this initiative.
So what could be achieved ?
EREBB is responding to the challenge created by Covid-19 and the call to social distance which has forced schools to close their doors to their students even if they haven’t closed their hearts and minds to them.
Yes Education must and will go on and the challenge for all education institutions is to find ways to foster their mission beyond the traditional physical gathering together of students.
Ruben Centre Primary school is closed in this period of pandemic and unfortunately ‘ truly closed’ as unlike many countries and their institutions, Kenya has not creatively looked at all the options to remain ‘OPEN’ for mission.
So here are a few random thoughts on how we might network and in the end rejoice in a new EREBB brotherhood and sisterhood-
- LEARNING FROM EACH OTHER
- TEACHING EACH OTHER
- JOURNEYING TOGETHER AS ONE WORLD
- Ruben FM has a Saturday morning education out reach ( details please) this could be expanded to take in all three levels of connection and I am referring to our Mukuru slum neighbours, the wider towns and people of Kenya and over and above all these, the International community. The local schools involvement is still underdone and needs to be ramped up. At present schools often come to present in the studio.
- Ruben FM will develop their website and have it strengthened to effectively communicate in a variety of mediums. Podcast, DVDS, social media, Whatsapp youtube etc.
- Ruben FM will produce a comprehensive range of education programs that will include the academic, psycho social, entertainment, cultural and linguistic and spirituality.
- Live interactive networking will be encouraged, truly beyond borders, time zones, cultures and age groups, and with this special relationships with people from across the world. The technology has moved beyond pen friends era and the opportunities for virtual learning and appreciation about each other are rich and varied.
- Ruben Primary school students and students from other informal schools ( includes Secondary ) will engage in a number of activities which invite learners from across the world to join them. The Ruben Centre school has an I T learning room, and in it over 400 tablets with many programs from Kenya education curriculum on them. About 50 children can be accommodated there at the one time and they could be actively learning on line in there together with anyone who choses from the wider world.
- Ruben Team will explore all the possibilities here over the next two months and invite ideas from across the EREBB network. Ideas to be explored include producing programs across a range of learning areas mentioned above, having interactive learning at the same time with some other national or international school/ college, also create a library of resources for various learning areas and these could be accessed at any time, and feedback initiated.
Areas Ruben Centre feels it could explore include;
- Nationally trying to create a wider network of learners using the Ruben FM and basic radios. Ruben FM also has an Outside Broadcasting Unit and can broadcast live shows, sports and other school celebrations. These could also be live streamed on video to places beyond the Kenyan borders. Ruben can broadcast debates and other functions from the hall, so things with a live audience.
- Scope around Nairobi and see what education resources are there online and see if any publisher, or I T education company would want to get connected. They might make sales….
Ruben Centre has rich human resources to call on to get involved in EDUCATION AND INTERNATIONAL / NATIONAL relations. Teachers, ( music, art, I T Kiswahili) school children, alumni ( plenty and finished university or what ever and un employed. Mostly (19 years – 23 years )
The Ruben FM is always having interns and volunteers who could get co opted. One ( we have him) presented and yet to get on our pay roll even after one year could be given this docket to head up.
The FM team do all their recording now and have a Program producer and we have an onsite DVD producer.