Disciples of Mercy Academy - Ashoka Changemaker School

Established in 2001 in the Kajulu zone of Kisumu, Disciples of Mercy Academy is an integrated school set up to provide a suitable learning environment to help nurture an all-round child, spiritually, mentally, and physically.

CEI Plus Status

Program Results Status
Monitoring and Evaluation Reporting

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Sponsored by Disciples of Mercy church, the Disciples of Mercy Academy (DOM) was established in 2001. The school offers quality education by qualified faculty at an affordable cost to more than 600 children from the local catchment area. The Christian-based education serves nursery, primary, secondary, and special needs students, utilizing the Kenyan 8-4-4 curriculum and vocational skills training. Disciples of Mercy students participate in all co-curricular activities as stated by the Ministry of Education and facilities include a fully equipped computer and science lab to maximize the educational experience of the students. With its inclusive mandate, out-of-school youth, orphans, and the vulnerable are given every opportunity to expand their potentials and gain skills and knowledge that will help them develop independence and ultimately self-sustainability. 

DOM started as an ECD center in 2001 but has since grown to include a primary school, special needs unit, secondary school, and vocational training center.

  1. ECD: Entry into the Disciples of Mercy Academy system is through its ECD center at the lowest level for 3-year-olds, known as the baby class. Students are enrolled from local catchment areas on a first-come, first-served basis.
  2. Primary School: Most students in the primary school transition from the ECD center. Students pay about 9,000 shillings in fees. Orphans and those in the special needs unit (SNU) pay about 4,500. 
  3. Secondary School: DOM started a secondary school, with its first class graduating in 2014— all the graduates attained the Kenyan standard qualification of C+ or above for admission to university. Children from primary therefore transition to secondary on campus on a preferred basis. This year, DOM is establishing a boarding section for the secondary section in response to requests from the community.
  4. SNU: The special needs unit was started to fill a gap in the community. Disciples of Mercy had to convince the government that there was indeed a need for them to be allowed to run a SNU in the school. The sponsoring church sensitized the community about special needs children. The church also offered a free medical camp for special needs children, further earning trust from the community. Fundraising from partners helped set up the SNU. The unit has 5 classes. The students are divided according to their levels of progression. Children with autism are separated from students with other disabilities for individualized and specialized attention. Currently the center does not admit children with cerebral palsy due to the lack of human resources, nor does it offer services for the deaf or blind who are served at a nearby government institution. All potential students from the community attend the government-run assessment center from where they are referred to DOM for admission depending on their disability. DOM then sends social workers to their homes to ascertain their case and medical history, as well as their levels of need, before admission. This gives an opportunity to discuss an individualized education program (IEP) in conjunction with the parents' or guardians' expectations. Discrepancies in the information given by parents or caregivers and the actual situation as assessed by the social worker may lead to denial of admission. Each student pays 4,100 shillings per term for their expenses at the school, inclusive of a feeding program, meals, uniform, and transportation back and forth. OVCs get a scholarship from the school and are subsidized. The school conducts visits each term to every SNU child's household and, through their individualized education program, are able to make quantitative assessments on progress and make amendments where necessary. The special needs students exit the school when academic progress has reached a plateau or IEP has been achieved. Furthermore, they are recommended to exit by the age of 21.
  5. Vocational Training: An exit strategy has been put in place in which most of the SNU students transition to the vocational training unit at DOM. The vocational training center also enrolls out-of-school youth from the community. Courses offered include hairdressing, sewing, carpentry, ICT, welding, and masonry. DOM has entered into partnerships with local corporate bodies that offer internships (as recommended by the Ministry of Higher Education) and employment for the graduates of the vocational training center, including the special needs students. Some of the graduates are also employed in DOM-run enterprises. Partnerships with corporates also help get scholarships for some of the needy students at DOM. The DoM program infrastructure costs are fully supported by funding from partners while proceeds from enterprises such as the uniform store and agribusinesses run by the organizations contribute to running cost expenses.

The program was named an Ashoka Changemaker School in 2014, among other accolades that it has received. 

It is an all-inclusive, integrated learning institution that has step-by-step levels of exiting strategies that lead to job security, and ultimately independence, for children at all levels of academic ability.High expectations from government stakeholders and guardians; reluctance by employment sector to offer workplace opportunities to those with special needs some critical services for special needs children are unavailable due to dearth of professionals

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