From Garoweonline.com

Features
Somalia:Star Sheikh Academy Muslim School in Kenya
By
Apr 10, 2010 - 1:57:16 PM

By Abdulkarim Jimale
Muxsin55@gmail.com

It’s very quite not like the other boarding schools in the capital Nairobi, when you are roaming inside the school, you will not hear voices of the students but only the blowing of the air, it seems like you are in library but it is not.
 
The school is Located in the outskirts of the capital in a place called Athi River in Eastern province, Star Sheikh Academy is one of the leading Muslim boarding schools in the country. It is owned by Star Sheikh Group of schools. However, the school is a multi-religious as it caters for other faithful like Christians.
 
While I was roaming in the school every body was busy with his/her duty, students were on learning lessons with their teachers while the other employers were busy with their works.
 
This school is not like the others in the country it guarantees freedom of religion and worship, in accordance to the constitution of Kenya.
 
All Muslim girls wear Hijab, long trousers and the school uniform but the Christians wear only school uniform.
 
“In some school rules, they some times implement strict rules that some students can’t even meet them. For example, they can ban Muslims student from wearing Hijab, or scarfs in their respective schools, but for us we are committed to the freedom. We give them freedom of worship, freedom of dress, freedom of character, behavior according to their delimitations to where they come from.” Managing director of Star Sheikh Academy Mr. P. T. Babu told Garowe Online (GO).
 
“Each school of the Star Sheikh group of schools has place of worship like mosques where Muslim students fulfill their religious obligations,” he said.
 
Babu says the schools are not sponsored by the Muslim communities or get assistance from agencies in Kenya.

“We are independent; we are not sponsored by anybody,”
 
School Background
 
Mr. Babu says his desire to build the school in Eastern region,currently predominantly inhabited by Muslims and also has a number of Christians, was based on religious facts. 
 
“The place is inhibited by both Muslims and Christians, so we could not just enroll only one faith while we leave out others although our mission is based on Islam,” he told GO.
 
The school which started as four class day school has now expanded to ten schools in different parts of the country and it has a very big number of Muslim and Christian students. 
 
“When we started the school, there were only four class rooms, but we strived to make it boarding school because we thought day schools could not survive for a long time, and they cannot expand that much fast,”  Babu told Garowe Online that his main aim is to accesses education to every human being.
 
 “We had to put all these with out any donation but we managed to use our little resources to accomplish,” he says, while we tour the school complex.
 
School rules flexible
 
The school’s rules are not very hard, they gave the parents very good terms of payment in school fees.
 
“most of the schools in this country and elsewhere, I think they will not accept to admit the student in their institutions with out clearing the school fee in full in the first day of reporting.” Managing director said.
 
He adds, “Some of the parents we are dealing with can not manage to pay all the money at once. There are others who are rich but most of them they are middle class,” 
 
The director says they offer parents to pay the school fees in installments but depends on the way each parent presents his/her case.
 
The schools also partially sponsor students who can’t pay the school fee, a noble undertaking which is rare in other boarding schools in the country.
 
The school gives high encourage to the students “I personally give them something like finishing course, how they are suppose to face the life, but specifically how to mould them and to become human being and know them selves, who are they, what should they fight for, and what they are going to face, like we give them example if you are coming to this school past time it doesn’t make any sense they must have vision, they must set a go,”
 
Directors hope for his students
 
In a country where the unemployment rate is soaring, the managing director believes most of the students who have gone through his school acquire themselves a successful life. Be it employed by others or venture into self-employment.
 
He says the school has retained some of them its alumni as teachers and workers in a way of creating jobs for them.

“For the last twenty years there are number of our students who were employed here. We are also accommodating those who are graduates, we get temporary jobs while they are studying, and some of them ending up getting permanent work as teachers,” 
 
Education Side
 
Kenyan has the highest and most vibrant education ratings based on an 8-4-4 system.  Kiswahili is the national and regional language and English is the official one, when a student finishes high school he is supposed to be fluent in the two languages.
 
There are a number of Muslims boarding schools in Kenya, like Star Sheikh Academy which is owned by Muslims which also teach students Arabic language and Islamic Religion Education.
 
School Challenges
 
“The schools has not experienced so far a lot of problems because the policies of the school are metropolitan oriented, we have never had any segregation that this one comes from Somalia, Tanzania no!” Babu said.
 
He says the education related problems have been individualized with some students, mostly girls preferring or perceiving certain subjects as hard ones.
 
“We have done our best and some of them adapted, but still we are encouraging them that to take full course which is a must in universities requirement and the companies and the other industries.”
 
War-torn students benefiting Kenya’s high education
 
Thousand of Somali students from war-torn Somalia and other back from western countries have been enrolled in various primaries, secondary and universities in Kenya.
 
Almost all of the students from Somalia can’t adapt Kenya school rules quickly because they came from violent place where the rule of law is non existence but there is a small number who can adapt immediately.
 
"We are trying give them room to practice or control them selves the way it’s supposed to and they are also following the school rules and we are educating them what is required,” says Star Sheikh Academy director.
 
“We give them special classes once they enroll in our schools. In three months if we find that they have made a much cleared progress, then they would be allowed to join the normal curriculum.
 
He says some achieve higher marks in their exams compared to the native ones.
 
Students Hope
 
All the students around the world have hope to get better future but Somali students I interviewed have more dreams to accomplish.
 
Fardowsa Ismail Guled from Somalia, 17 years, form three in Star Sheikh School had adapted well the new situation in Kenya; she is one of the bright students in the school, according to her class teacher.
 
“I adapted well, we learn normal studies, Arabic and Islamic Religion Education, we are mixed students Christians and Muslims,” Fardowsa Ismail Guled told GO.
 
 Fardowsa Ismail Guled Her biggest dream is to be a doctor and help her war-torn country.
 
A number of Somali students have the same dream in the capital but there are little number who still survive to see their dreams accomplished.

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