In November of 2008, SeaVuria’s co-founder, Mary Margaret Welch, and three other delegates from Eastside Catholic School in Seattle, traveled to Bamba, Kenya to set up a sister school partnership. During this trip they were met with enthusiastic children and devoted teachers, each longing for quality education, but limited by circumstance. For many students, financial and family constraints limited access to a full education; for teachers, the cultural norm of didactic (lecture-style) teaching methods hindered student engagement, specifically impacting math and science scores on national exams.
Mary Margaret formed a partnership with Bishop Wilybard Lagho, who at the time was the superintendent of the Mombasa Catholic-sponsored schools. Together they visioned what a partnership might be and shared it with 10 secondary school principals. The team signed a covenant of understanding, promising to build a partnership of educational opportunities for the students and teachers of Kenya while enlisting local high school students and teachers of Seattle to be a part of the collaboration. The result of this promise is SeaVuria; named by the students of Kenya as a reflection of the partnership between Seattle (Sea) and the landmark hill of their region, Vuria.
Today, SeaVuria promotes STEM education by organizing learning cooperatives of students and teachers from Seattle and Kenya and creating projects relevant to current global issues. We work together with Kenyan teachers to develop student centered pedagogy and technology resources to better engage students in science, engineering, and math. Student here in Seattle birthed a student-run scholarship programs, supporting the continued education of many Kenyan students that would otherwise be unable to afford the opportunity for advancement.
In 2022, we enthusiastically signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Taita Taveta University to collaborate with us on our teacher professional learning and student STEM initiatives. We believe this partnership will foster an important relationship for both students and teachers with their local university.
SEAVURIA SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM
Every year, the SeaVuria Scholarship Programs (Girls to Girls and PETRI) send Kenyan youth to high school. Recent years have totaled over 500 scholarship recipients and the scholarships are paying off.
Florence Mkamburi, a 3-year recipient of a SeaVuria scholarship, earned the top score in all of Taita Taveta County on her college entrance exam, the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education. Florence was taken in by her aunt after the death of her parents. Her aunt, who lived near Mlamba, enrolled her at Mlamba secondary. At Mlamba, Florence met with high academic achievement and served as the prefect for Form 4 girls. This bright young scholar is now pursuing a college education; an opportunity that may not have been possible without the financial support of a scholarship.
In rural Kenya, many children drop out of public elementary schools before reaching eighth grade because of unmet needs for school uniforms and shoes, books, pencils, and notebooks. Many families cannot afford to provide their children with the necessities for school.
The cost of private and even public secondary schools is much too high for many Kenyans. A fifth of the populace must get by with less than one euro per day. Only a wealthy minority can afford the expensive private secondary schools, but graduating from a secondary school is a requirement for enrolling in college. Before a child enters ninth grade, it is decided whether he or she will be able to undertake university studies. If not, a child's education is considered complete after the eighth grade.
Young women face additional challenges when making their way through the school system. Families invest less money in girls' education, and many Kenyans share traditional views about the role of women in society, seeing them rather as suited solely for marriage, childbirth and raising a family.
We know that scholarships change lives. Because of the amazing work of our Girls to Girls and PETRI scholarship programs, our generous donors, and their combined passion for creating educational opportunities for all, Florence is looking at a very bright future.
Partnering Seattle and Kenyan Schools
SeaVuria works with two high schools here in the Pacific Northwest, 10 secondary schools in Taita Taveta, and with Taita Taveta University in Kenya.
Click on the school names to visit their websites.
VASHON HIGH SCHOOL