During my stay in Kenya I was very fortunate to meet fantastic children who were participating in the "Schools to the Sea" project, a 5 year education initiative aimed at enabling young people to experience the wonders of the marine environment for the first time in their lives. This great project is coordinated by Buccaneer Diving and partially funded by Project AWARE.
"Thousands of young people in the low-income Kongowea area of Mombasa live within a few kilometres of the Indian Ocean yet have rarely visited it and have little awareness of the wonders it contains" explains Bruce Phillips, Schools to the Sea project coordinator.
The provision of free primary education in Kenya has enabled more children to attend school than ever before. At the same time it is also placing significant pressure on existing educational resources.
I was amazed to hear that Government Primary Schools now have class sizes of between 100 and 130 students. A number of community schools which were set up before the introduction of free education play a very important role in providing cheap education in an over stretched system. Both of these types of schools lack teaching and learning resources and access to educational outings.
The "Schools to the Sea" project raises awareness and develops understanding through a series of coral reef visits, snorkeling trips, mangrove expeditions and beach clean-ups.
The project provides first time experiences for so many of the teachers and the young people involved and raises environmental awareness amongst children from some of the poorest communities in Kenya.
Spending time with "Schools to the Sea" children was definitely one of the highlights of my stay in Kenya. I will remember those beautiful children for ever and I hope they will remember their first experience with the sea and with me too ... Their positive spirit and beautiful smiles are really inspiring. I will really miss my Schools to the Sea friends.