St. Charles Lwanga Secondary School (SCLSS) and Children’s Centre is located in Ruai, Nairobi, Kenya.
It is a residential school for orphans; children from families who do not have the means to send them to school and street children. The school is situated on approximately half an acre and has 280 students.
Daily life at SCLSS is very organized and all students are responsible for the daily upkeep and cleaning of the school. They are supported by Inverness County Cares and Chalice Canada.
Students and staff are up at 4:30 a.m. when they wash and dress. Whole school prayers are held from 5-5:30, and after prayers, the students wash dishes, clean latrines and dorms, collect garbage, and do chores that keep the school clean and efficient.
At 6 a.m., they line up for breakfast of maize porridge. They dress, shine shoes and go to study hall at 7 a.m. with classes beginning at 8 a.m., except on Monday and Friday when they all gather for the whole school assembly where school issues are dealt with. Classes run until 1 p.m. with a 20-minute break with a snack of mandazi, a Kenyan sweet similar to doughnuts.
The teacher lectures and students copy and memorize notes for exams, as there are very few textbooks available. The students sit in very crowded, hot corrugated metal classrooms, three to four to a desk and when someone needs to exit, they have to climb over all the desks to reach the door.
Lunch is from 1-1:30 p.m. and consists of mixed beans, maize (corn) and lots of ugali (thick maize porridge). During times of food shortages, they eat the same menu every day. From 1:30-4 p.m. classes are held as well as group discussions and individual study.
Activity time is from 4-5 p.m. and involves debating, sports, agriculture, and music-club (voice and individual instrument instruction). Between 5-6 p.m. is personal time for laundry, personal ablutions, hanging out with friends, or more music lessons.
Supper time is from 6-6:30 p.m. with the same menu as noon. The school gathers for prayers with a great deal of singing from 6:30-7 p.m. Students study and review their lessons from 7:30-9:30 p.m. After this they have free time from 9-10 p.m. which they spend planning activities and preparing for next day. Bedtime is at 10 p.m.
This busy schedule keeps the students meaningfully engaged and develops a strong work ethic.