Ilkeek Aare Primary School
Overview & History
Kenya’s Ilkeek Aare Primary School (IAPS) was established in 1995 as a government elementary school for Maasai children with six students and three teachers. Two simple classrooms were built by Maasai parents on land purchased by the Maasai tribe and donated to the county near Suswa in Narok County – close to the world famous “Maasai Mara” National Park.
Narok County is home to 1.1 million people, most of whom belong to the Maasai tribe. It took a few years for the two classrooms at IAPS to fill up with students. Since the Maasai have to migrate with their herds during the dry season, the children could not attend school year-round during the dry season because their parents had to take them out to forage.
Maasai children need a boarding school
During his time as a guest lecturer at Kenyatta University in Nairobi, in 2011, Jörg Baetge noticed that the Maasai do not have a good reputation among Kenya’s population and even among fellow professors: Many Kenyans deride the Maasai as “savages”.
But when Jörg Baetge and his wife went on a safari to the Maasai Mara, he met a Maasai guide and learned his great educational story: He was a guide in the national park “Massai Mara”. Like many other Maasai children, he was not allowed to attend school at first, because he was supposed to be trained traditionally to become a “Maasai Warrior”. These are to protect the cattle herds of the Maasai from wild animals. However, his parents succeeded in changing the tribal elder’s mind, so that the gifted boy was initially allowed to attend a primary school.
His story was the first impulse for Jörg Baetge to deal with the educational topic of the Maasai.
The Maasai children after the construction of the boarding school
The Maasai families were open to the boarding school from the beginning and have been providing support as best they can ever since. To this day, the parents finance three teachers at Ilkeek Aare at their own expense. The further expansion of the boarding school capacities was mainly financed by funds from the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and many private donations.
Thanks to the construction of the boarding school buildings, the children can attend school all year round and fully concentrate on their final exams.
Good grades in the school ranking
Today, fourteen teachers are teaching, financed by the Kenyan state. One teacher is paid by Narok County and there are three teachers funded by parents.
These teachers, along with a security guard, two cooks, and one dormitory supervisor each, keep the boarding school running smoothly. More than that, IAPS frequently landed in the top-10 in Narok County’s school rankings.
At Ilkeek Aare Primary School (IAPS), students now learn from the ages of four to six (2 kindergarten years) and then from 6 to 14, giving them the opportunity to graduate at the end of the 8th grade with a diploma comparable to the German Hauptschulabschluss.
However, IAPS is not only an educational institution, but also a place where students can play, dance, sing and play sports with other children. It offers them an opportunity to prepare for a bright future in their home country with confidence.