History of Nambale Magnet School

This is the story of the Nambale Magnet School, its beginnings, its process of moving from idea to an elite school for all, to its present situation.


In the fall of 1999 the Rev. Evalyn Wakhusama, a charismatic and powerful spokesperson for the needs of the poor in Kenya, came to Yale Divinity School to study for her Masters Degree. Supported and sponsored by Connecticut churches, she completing her studies in 2002 and returned to Kenya. In August of 2004 a mission team from the US traveled to Kenya to explore and identify projects to help destitute children, especially those affected by the HIV/ AIDS crisis. A decision was made to work with the Rev. Evalyn on a school for destitute children ... [ more ]

Building the School

A parcel of land was purchased in May of 2005 in the town of Nambale in the Busia district of Western Kenya and a plan was created to develop a school. The Nambale Magnet School (NMS), would be built to educate and support primary students from destitute families. It took two years to raise the money and another year to build it. The first buildings were finished in December of 2008. In January of 2009 the first class of 35 students, ages 3 to 9, entered the school. All but three of them were fully sponsored orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs) ... [ more ]

Integrating Fee Paying Students

Initially, almost no parents of fee-paying students were willing to actually enroll their children because the Nambale Magnet School was unproven. They had no reason to believe that an educational model mixing destitute and fee-paying students as equals would succeed.  However, word of early success among the NMS students soon spread encouraging more fee-paying families to consider enrolling their children. By January of 2010 in the second year, 73 students would be enrolled, 55 OVCs and 18 fee-paying students. The school had grown to 130 by January of 2011 ... [ more ]

Early Success

In November 2012 the school participated in district-wide fourth grade academic exams. In the first year, the school as a whole scored third overall among schools participating. In addition, NMS students earned three of the top 10 scores out of the more than 2,000 students taking the exams. The magnet school model of combining destitute and fee paying students was well on its way to being a proven success ... [ more ]

Continued Growth

In January of 2013, the school enrolled 210 students, 90 OVCs, and 120 fee-paying. Many of the fee-paying students were day students in the lower classes, as the fully supported students lived at the school – a policy that continues to the present. The school continued to grow and add students. In January of 2016, the eighth academic year began with 317 students. The students continue to be involved in agricultural activities. This helps students with practical mathematics, time management, and gives them an investment in the life of the school as a whole. No student is exempt ... [ more ]

The School Today

In 2020 the school year was severely disrupted by COVID. In line with Kenyan government regulations, NMS students were sent home to reduce the spread of the disease. NMS staff visited the fully sponsored OVCs in their homes to ensure that they received adequate nutrition and support. When some of the students returned to school in the fall of 2020 to prepare for upcoming exams they were happy to be back.  In 2021, the first graduates of the Nambale Magnet School, including some students who came from some of the poorest households and communities in western Kenya, are beginning their university studies ... [ more ]

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