In Summary
  • M-Pesa Foundation’s idea of building a state-of-the art school in Thika heralds a new approach to CSR activities in Kenya
  • Most of the students in this academy are talented and have demonstrated leadership potential but are economically disadvantaged.
  • Elite schools that were largely built by the colonial government had infrastructure that in most cases was comparable to what we desire now.

Each year, several private-sector organisations open their wallets to unleash billions of shillings through their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives for social good.

There is no prescribed way of utilising these enormous resources, and different organisations and countries have different programmes.

You can feel the impact of some CSR programmes of some organisations, while others struggle to show tangible benefits of their programs.

The M-Pesa Foundation’s idea of building a state-of-the art school in Thika heralds a new approach to CSR activities in Kenya, one that will definitely have a great impact. 

This impact is already evident, not just in the faces of the young learners in the school but in the entire learning ecosystem in the country. 

The foundation made significant contributions to existing educational institutions in the past but building the M-Pesa Academy is in keeping with its continuing commitment to transforming lives in Kenya and could be the start of changing the country’s learning paradigm. 

A rendering of the M-Pesa Academy. PHOTO | M-PESA FOUNDATION

When Education Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i and his Information and Communications counterpart Joe Mucheru visited the academy recently they were quick to ask the school to open its doors to other school heads so they can learn from their achievements.

The ministers’ tour was largely conducted by the young learners themselves, who confidently explained the many activities they are involved in.

This co-educational and residential high school provides world-class Kenyan education with special focus on leadership, entrepreneurship, technology and innovation. 

Students showcase their creativity: PHOTO | M-PESA FOUNDATION

Most of the students in this academy are talented and have demonstrated leadership potential but are economically disadvantaged.

Admissions to the academy are evaluated on the basis of academic excellence, financial need, responsible citizenship, critical thinking, problem-solving and leadership and entrepreneurial potential.

Research on the knowledge of the 21st century dictates that existing pedagogical methods need to be replaced with those that can prepare students for future work. 

Studies exemplified in a seminar paper by Kereluik, Mishra, Fahnoe and Terry, What Knowledge Is of Most Worth: Teacher Knowledge for 21st Century Learning, show there are key knowledge areas of interest that new pedagogy must embrace.   

These include:

  • Foundational knowledge incorporating digital literacy, core content and cross-disciplinary;
  • Humanistic knowledge covering life or job skills, ethical or emotional awareness, cultural competence, and
  • Meta knowledge, focusing on creativity and innovation, problem-solving, critical thinking and communication and collaboration. 

These knowledge areas form the basis of admission and become part of the teaching methodology at the Academy. 

This is a significant departure from the existing teaching methods in Kenya that have produced many people with education but who cannot solve the problems confronting them or their society.

GRAPHIC | From Kereluik, Mishra, Fahnoe, and Terry (2013).

Besides the normal Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education, students cover the following components:

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