The 1st Steiner-Waldorf Kindergarten opened in 1998...
...in a small house along the Magadi Road on the outskirts of Nairobi. It was led by 3 teachers from Germany (Florian, Vojko and Irmgard).
The following year the school moved to Mbagathi extending the kindergarten to a 1st Grade primary class. The Mbagathi Steiner school continues to run successfully; now a fully fledged kindergarten and primary school known as the Rudolf Steiner School, Mbagathi, transitioning their children successfully into Kenyan Curriculum Secondary schools.
In 1994 a new Waldorf Kindergarten opened its doors in a beautiful residential suburb - the Kileleshwa Kindergarten. This was initiated by a group of parents who had been impressed by the Mbagathi kindergarten but needed something in a more central area.
As the new millennium approached, another parent group around a core of Kileleshwa parents, now more familiar with the Waldorf philosophy and its practical results, felt a great need to continue the initiative into the primary level. Both the Kenyan and British institutions were offering instruction that was wholly formal from such a young age, promoting 'The Hurried Child' syndrome.
Media reports about school unrest were pandemic and views from other parents clearly indicated dissatisfaction with the lack of creativity in education. Some of their children were already feeling stressed and unhappy in school. There was a very conscious feeling that Waldorf education would not only benefit the families and their own children, but would contribute towards the ultimate transformation of education in Kenya for the better.
The Nairobi Waldorf School
In September 2000, the Nairobi Waldorf Primary school opened its doors to a grand total of 4 children, who were taught by Hanne Origen - a dedicated and enthusiastic Waldorf teacher! This small group soon grew and, in January 2001, another teacher, Susan Kung'u, joined the combined age-group of children to help with subject teaching and extra activities. Susan was also in the recently established local Waldorf teacher training programme.
Many volunteers and teachers came to work at the school, also joining the Waldorf training programme, held in the Mbagathi Steiner school. By 2003 the school had 4 classes - Class 1, Class 2 and a combined Class 3 /4 and Class 5/6 - a total of 36 primary school children. More and more mentors from established Waldorf schools overseas came to visit and share in their expertise guiding the school in its vision.
Our school is proud to welcome 216 children on two sites: Lavington and Karen. In Miotoni School, Karen - now 10 years old - has a total of 71 children in the Primary school and 63 children in the Kindergarten. A staff of 17, consisting of main lesson teachers and subject teachers, includes a small 'extra lesson" department to strengthen and guide those children who need some extra help. There are 82 children enrolled in the Kileleshwa Kindergarten with 9 teaching staff.
Our school serves a richly multicultural society - not only with regard to the children but also among our staff - we can boast from almost every continent in the world. Also, in championing the view that everyone has a right to the education, we encourage a diversity of social standing. We are very focused in our desire to maintain this inclusivity as it is something that many people feel is quite unique to the Waldorf Movement and was one of the conditions Steiner laid down 80 years ago.
The Waldorf Curriculum
The Waldorf Curriculum is primarily based on teaching what is most suited to the child's developmental stage. Formal education truly starts in the first year of Primary school. Children, having had their full requirement of play, social skill building, movement, songs - the list goes on - are really ready, and indeed eager, to begin more cognitive learning. By the end of their first primary year they are already familiar and working with the basic mathematical concepts alongside the four mathematical processes. As they experience their letters in a way which penetrates their whole being, they are laying the foundations of their subsequent writing and reading skills.
Other subjects include Kiswahili, French, music, handwork, art, form drawing, sports, eurythmy (an art form consisting of music, sound and movement and promoting coordination and grace), woodwork and claywork.
As we grow we are able to join other schools in sports activities and now represent the NWS in hockey, rounders, football and netball tournaments. Since last year we have sent teams to participate in Nairobi's famous charity event - The Hog Charge - and the Nairobi Verse Speaking competition features also on our school calendar. Our school trips have seen the pyramids at Giza, the fjords of Norway and the rich cultural arena of Spain.
Last July we graduated our 6th class. Having completed the seven primary school years the children are ready to transition into secondary schools of various educational systems. The feedback we get about our ex- students has always been positive if not downright enthusiastic, most noticeable is the recognition of keen and curious, 'well-rounded' students.
We wish that they could have continued on in a Waldorf Secondary School and this remains our guiding vision. We would ideally want our children to stay grounded in an approach which we see around the world as producing graduates more aptly prepared to face the challenges of growing a new - more sane and humane - global order in the 21st century.