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Schools in Barney collaborate with Kenyan schools in pioneering digital project

16 Feb 2022

We are proud to be collaborating with Teesdale School and Barnard Castle’s e-Rotary Club for an innovative educational and sustainable pilot project to help tackle global conservation challenges.

Rotary Digital Bridges is a partnership between students and staff at both our schools, as well as two schools in Kitale, Kenya, to deliver collaborative learning on joint environmental action.

Students, in their respective Rotary Interact clubs, have recently completed United Nations-accredited Peace Advocacy training and, as the project progresses, will be encouraged to investigate shared environmental concerns and potential solutions.

Interact is Rotary International’s service club for young people ages 12 to 18, with Barnard Castle School and Teesdale School’s clubs sponsored by the town’s Rotary Club.

The project officially launched last month as the two UK schools connected online with their Kenyan counterparts at St Patrick’s Kipsaina High School and St Christopher’s Girls Secondary School, who are being supported by a community conservation group in Kipsaina.

Sam Forsyth, Rotarian and Biology teacher at Barnard Castle School, said: “It has been a marvellous collaborative effort and although there are still a few technical issues to be resolved, we are hoping for long-term positive outcomes.

“Whilst we must be realistic about what can be achieved in this one academic year pilot, as the pupils build their relationships, we hope they will be inspired to explore common environmental problems – from plastics reduction to tree planting and water management. As well as providing community service, this project will also offer exceptional fellowship opportunities with the potential to grow Rotary membership – particularly through Interact, Rotaract and international e-Clubs.”

Dr Simon Henderson, Head of Sixth Form at Teesdale School, added: “This term has seen the return of the Rotary Interact group, which promises to lead to an exciting sustainability project in the future. Our students really enjoyed the Peace Advocacy Project and following the materials and engaging in the activities alongside the students from Kenya was particularly rewarding.

“Sharing ideas and discussing issues that were similarly important to both sets of students even though they are separated by such a large geographical distance really captured the essence of connecting classrooms.”

It is anticipated that, upon the completion of the pilot, further collaborations between other UK and Kenyan schools will form, further strengthening the International Rotary network. 

June Akinyi, a pupil at St Patrick’s Kipsaina High School, Kenya, added: “On behalf of St Patrick’s Kipsaina Rotary Digital Bridges Club and Peace Advocate Team, I take this opportunity to deliver a special vote of thanks for the whole entire training programme on Peace Advocacy, which has helped us by enhancing our peace advocacy skill.

“I would like to thank the trainers, sponsors and the entire team that engaged us. We are looking forward to continuing to work, engage and train under the umbrella of peace advocacy now and henceforth.”