All Posts By

Alan Whelan

A life without education is like a tree without fruit

By | news

Two years ago Vitalis planted some seemingly nondescript plants at the bottom of the playing field.

We now have an orchard.

Pineapples, paw paws, guavas, bananas, passionfruit and avocados are about to be harvested. The paw paws especially have grown like balloons; they are so heavy it is a wonder they remain attached to the branch.

The fruit will be the centrepiece of the new breakfast menu at Shalom Academy. Many of our pupils come to school on an empty stomach, so this fruit will go some way to filling the void and helping them focus on morning studies.

St Gregory the Great

By | news

The pupils of St Gregory’s Catholic Primary school in Deepdale, Preston are our good friends across the miles.

They have supported Shalom Academy in a variety of ways over the years—from their Send a Friend to School initiative to topping up our school lunch programme (they bought a lot of beans and helped us plant fruit trees).

They are also keen letter writers to their pen friends in Irovo.

This year they decided to add a bit of colour to their pen friends’ letters by raising money for a sackful of crayons and coloured pencils (shown here with Vitalis and headteacher Mr Bondi).

One generous St Gregory’s pupil donated an unwanted gift of two battery-powered toy train sets. We set them up in the staff room and brought in the Shalom Academy pupils class by class. They then returned to their own classes and drew the train using the coloured pencils (this was the first time they had ever seen a train—real or toy).

I Love my Teacher

By | news

Left to right, school director Vitalis, Lona, Margret, Anita, headteacher Mr Bondi and Gladys.

Shalom Academy has welcomed two new teachers to our staff this year, both trained—Lona (fresh from college) and Margret, who came to us from a state school that was poorly run and hugely understaffed (she was teaching four classes at once!) Margret has assumed responsibility for our biggest class (PP1), her preferred age group.

Welcome Margret and Lona.

The Young Ones

By | news

Our two-year plan is to grow the school from six to eight grades, and from 84 children to 200.

We have now reached 103 pupils in six grades. Most of the 2020 intake have gone to PP1 (Pre-primary 1)—including ‘chill dude’ Brian (before he got his new uniform), which is encouraging because we hope to retain most of these who can progress through the grades, by which time we should have reached our goal.

Then what?

N.U.D. (New Uniform Day)

By | news

New Uniform Day is one of the annual events to which we look forward as much as the pupils at Shalom Academy. Such a simple thing as a badged blue polo shirt can transform the attitude of pupils, parents and teachers. New pupils come in a variety of get-ups—some Sunday best, others a ragtag ensemble of uniforms from other schools and hand-me downs. Once a shirt is placed on their backs, the new sense of belonging is palpable.

This year we went one better than just polo shirts—for our top grade (grade 4) we introduced navy blue trousers for the boys and pleated skirts for the girls.

It usually takes 3 weeks to reach optimum capacity at Shalom; this year, by the end of week 2, we have reached 86 pupils. We may even run out of uniforms, which would be a strange kind of success. Our target is 110.


Security with a Smile

By | news

Gerald is the newest addition to the Irovo family. Vitalis calls him ‘security’ but he is so much more than that. I like to think of him as the welcoming face of Shalom Academy (although he does look a little forbidding in the pic above).

He is the first person at school each morning—opening up the school gate and staff room, preparing the kitchen for the arrival of the cook, chopping firewood for the stove, reminding the children to wash their hands after… everything.

He has grandchildren at the school so knows absolutely everyone and commands the respect of all: children, teachers, parents, neighbours, and the occasional visitors from Lancashire.

Hey Mr Postman look and see…

By | news, Partner Schools

The children at Shalom Academy received their first pen letters from the pupils of St Francis school, Goosnargh. They created quite a stir in Irovo because the children heard firsthand how their contemporaries lived in Britain.

The letters were followed by a terrific scrapbook from the pupils of St Gregory’s, Preston, (pictured above) which featured self-portraits from every pupil and class photographs. It is now kept pride of place in our new resource room.

Led by headteacher Mr Bondi, the children reciprocated by writing their own pen letters, which we distributed to Lancashire schools on our return.

It promises to be the start of some beautiful friendships.

Education Way

By | news

With no street signage in the region, it is always a challenge to find exact addresses. It requires lots of stop-and-ask — no problem, but it does slow you down.

We have had a similar problem whenever we try to describe the location of the school to visitors. So we took the issue into our own hands and gave the little dirt track that leads to Shalom Academy a name: Education Way.

That’s two more English words the children have learned!

All Things Bright & Beautiful

By | news

Just in case anyone needs a reminder of how to write the alphabet…

The signwriter spent a couple of days painting everything in sight—including the walls of the school, the school signs, the goalposts, the inner walls of the staff room.

It certainly brightens up the place and announces to the village ‘We’re open for education!’

Uniforms For All

By | news

It has been apparent lately that the children at Shalom Academy in Irovo were noticeably scruffier than their counterparts in other schools in the area.

But we’ve put that right by bringing a new look to the sky blue uniform—polo shirts for all, emblazoned with the new school badge in the colours of the Kenya flag. They each got two shirts—one on and one in the wash—so there is no excuse for not showing up in blue. We’re just looking forward to hearing the excuses!

They looked great for a short time before they were covered in a thin layer of dust and grime from the school playground.

But for those 7 minutes, heck, they looked sharp!