Homeschooling daughter inspired her to start school

Maryland School premises

Syokimau town within Machakos County is a growing residential area where availability of land, access to the train station as well as affordable apartments has convinced many young families to move here.

For a long time, the challenge of these families has been availability of quality education and this was the gap Eunice Muturi was hoping to address when she established Merryland Kindergarten and school two years ago.

Tucked at the border of Syokimau and Katani, in the middle of residential houses, the road to this school is rough as is characteristic of most destinations in the area where construction lorries have a reputation of damaging roads each time they are repaired.

We find teachers busy preparing their modules for the coming year, their tables filled with letter charts as well as illustrations. The teaching methods in this school are similar to those of any other 8-4-4 school system that is until the French and music lessons begin.

Here, from the age of four learners begin to learn how to play the recorder, at five they begin piano lessons and by the time they are six they are being taught French.

As we settle down for the interview, the school proprietor tells us she quit her job at a bank to stay home with her children before deciding to open a school.

"I had just given birth to my second daughter and was on maternity leave. I enjoyed being home caring for my children and I could not imagine spending time away from them so when my leave ended I quit and began to home-school my eldest daughter."

"That is when I began to toy with the idea of starting a school. I took her to a neighbouring school for a term before I finally decided to open the school. My vision was to have a school that enabled the students to be as comfortable as possible, where they could air their views and just be children," she says.

Having studied education, Eunice felt she was equipped to start the school: "Merryland is based on the things that are ignored by other schools, we have very well trained teachers who take time to individually deal with each student".

When the school started at the end of 2013, it only had Eunice's two daughters and one teacher. However, by the end of that term they had seven students.Today the school has grown and currently enrolls children from kindergarten to class five.

"I think what has made parents trust us with their children is the fact that they see my our own children in the school," she says.

Eunice says the highlight of here work is when she sees children develop and meet milestones.

"I feel fulfilled when I see children who came here when they could not talk now communicate well. It is also gratifying that they have been able to learn instruments and can actually do presentations on their own like the ones they did during the Christmas concert we had just before we closed for the holidays," she says.

She says the decision to use the 8-4-4 system of education was deliberate.

"As an educationist, I do not have a problem with the 8-4-4 system. In my opinion, what we need to do is to limit the pressure on learners by reducing the number of subjects they need to study and they will be fine," she says.

Eunice is also very passionate about what goes on not only in the classroom setting but also extra-curricular activities. She decries the Kenyan academic culture which she says gives students from privileged families opportunity to interact with other cultures and facets of life while those from middle income and low income families are only given the basic minimum.

"Success is not only defined by academic excellence but also talent. Our aim is to ensure that the children under our care are able to excel in both and be able to create wealth through their talent," she says.