Education Moves: The Thorn Tree Project

So many factors (and people) have come together to inspire the education boom in Sereolipi. Maybe none bigger than the Thorn Tree Project, part of the Sereolipi Nomadic Education Trust, designed and run by Jane Newman.

The Thorn Tree Project inspires an investment in education from the very beginning. In the last four years, the project has established nine pre-schools over a 40-mile radius in the rural areas surrounding Sereolipi and Ndonyo Wasin.

The pre-schools were designed to inspire a love of education among communities where most families were nomadic and few parents could even write their names. Each school serves 25-35 students and are assigned to a group of families. In order to accomplish these goals, 3 of the pre-schools actually travel with the families when they migrate (the families have agreed to move together) and six schools are located in central areas, where families tend to congregate. It is an amazing example of a project that is designed to work with the communities it serves.

What do these schools look like? The largest thorn tree in a given area becomes the site of the preschool. Branches are placed around it in a circle to make walls and the black board is propped against the tree trunk. The children are given an exercise book and a pencil but all the teaching materials are home grown. Seedpods and stones are used as counting materials.

When the project began, less than 10% of children in Sereolipi and Ndonyo Wasin attended school. Graduates from the Thorn Tree Project have increased enrollment at the two primary schools from 130 to 460 students over the last four years. Many of the children entering primary school are the first members of their family to ever attend a school.

To learn more about the Thorn Tree Project, and to find out how you can get involved, visit their website.


Photos courtesy of the Thorn Tree Project

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