Aquinoe Learning Centre

The News

Scores of Sports Hoodies Aquinoe-Bound

Around 130 sports hoodies kindly donated by Barsleys department store of Paddock Wood and to be shipped free to Kenya courtesy of delivery company Interparcel are all set for pupils at Aquinoe.

The garments are brand new but the school name on the back proved the wrong size for the original recipients so rather than let them go to waste Richard Barsley, head of the store, offered them to Aquinoe.

Trustee Jean says: “Barsleys have supported us for many years, not least with donating raffle prizes at our annual quiz and this is just another example of their kind backing. We are really grateful.

“We know from past experience just how much pleasure the pupils get from previous sportswear we’ve been able to send across over the years. I’m sure they’ll all be so thrilled.”

The hoodies will be transported in six boxes which would normally cost hundreds of pounds but Crawley-based Interparcel stepped in to ship them free of charge.

Head of pricing Jo Lomax says: “This is a very worthwhile cause so we are delighted to lend our support in getting these supplies to the children.”

Interparcel is a major partner of the world’s best parcel delivery firms and as such delivers to over 200 countries worldwide.

Barsleys, founded in 1891 by Charles Barsley, is a noted family firm and going as strong as ever as the 130th anniversary approaches in 2021.

Colston Bassett Donation

What a surprise this morning to receive the news that the Aquinoe Learning Centre has received a fantastic donation of £271.35.

Many, many thanks to Colston Bassett Preparatory School for raising this money at their Christmas Fair, and to the School Council for deciding to donate it to the Aquinoe charity.




Great fundraiser for Aquinoe

Aquinoe’s stall at the annual Christmas Fair in Tonbridge High Street raised just over £130 on Sunday — a super figure for the charity.
With the road closed to traffic for most of the day the occasion, run by Tonbridge Rotary Club, has become a popular curtain-raiser for the festive season.
Lucky dip proved a big attraction once more on the Aquinoe stall with presents lovingly wrapped earlier in the week by trustees Lynne, Clive and Jean who set up and manned the stall all day along with Jean’s husband Dave.
Jewellery, hand-made Christmas items and ladies’ bags also attracted interest.
Jean says: “We are grateful to members of Rotary for all of the organisation for this event and welcome funds have been raised for the Aquinoe Learning Centre in Kenya.
“It was lovely that several people with Kenyan connections stopped to chat and find out more about the charity and school.”
Dave says: “We were there for nearly seven hours and happily it was dry with temperatures around 15°C which is not bad for lateish November.”
Thousands of shoppers with families walked the length of the street, taking in the many stalls, eating places, promotions and displays.
The day also featured a live concert and a splendid fireworks display. In addition, a brass band enlivened proceedings, marching along the street, while a group of Morris dancers added colour and song with various excellent displays.
Dave says: “It was great to have the road closed. They should do it every Sunday!”

Grade Eight Pupils Sit For National Exams

Pupils at the top end of the Aquinoe Learning Centre have been sitting papers for the KCPE (Kenya Certificate of Primary Education) examinations in the last week.

Lilyan Otagi, Chair of Governors (and herself a senior teacher at another school) came in to school to talk to the pupils and give advice about the exams.  All of her children have passed through the system at Aquinoe, so she has had a lot of experience, both professionally and as a mother.

Pre-schoolers at Aquinoe graduate

The pre-school pupils who will be joining Grade One in January were invited to an official graduation ceremony, along with parents and friends.

The headteacher, Linet Isinyen Mackenzie, and the Director, Josphat Shaduma, issued certificates.


Barsley’s Donates Clothing

Jean met Richard Barsley this morning (October 17th 2019) to talk about the donation of some sports “hoodies”.

The garments are perfect, except that the embroidery on the back is the wrong size.

Richard wishes the “hoodies” to go to a good home, where they will be appreciated, so has donated them to the Aquinoe Learning Centre. The trustees are now looking for a carrier that will deliver them to Aquinoe.

Many many thanks to Barsleys, the independent department store in Paddock Wood.

Annual Quiz Tops £10,000 Mark

The annual quiz at Capel Village Hall on October 12th raised just over £700 for the charity, bringing the total over the years from this one event to more than £10,000.
“People in Capel have always been most supportive and it’s a fantastic figure so sincere thanks to them all, ” says Dave, husband of Jean who set up the charity in 2004.
There was a thrilling finish on the night in the packed hall with “Corridor of Uncertainty” pipping Foghorns by just two points, with Hastgate another point away, third of the eleven teams.
Among the winning side were chairman of the Parish Council, Hugh Patterson and his wife Sandra.
Jean who set all the questions  says, “I’ve been collecting quotes throughout the last year, and began setting questions in May, so there’s a lot of hard work involved, but I get a real buzz from the world of quizzes.  The support we receive each year and the amount of money raised makes it extremely worthwhile.”
Her sister Tina, a fellow trustee who once more travelled all the way from Perthshire (almost five hundred miles away) with husband Charlie to help organise and score says, “It’s always a pleasure to be involved in the quiz, and catching up with some supporters I don’t see very often.  Jean does the lion’s share of the work, but it’s good to help in a small way.”
The following day saw the AGM with fellow trustees Lynne and Clive in attendance helping plan for 2020 and beyond.
The quiz topped an exciting few weeks for the charity following Jean’s international award in New York in September for her humanitarian work in aid of Aquinoe.

Inspection Ratings High

An Education Officer arrived to inspect the Aquinoe Learning Centre on Monday 7th October.

The “new” curriculum was discussed and she was impressed with the work of the teachers and the support given to the children with special needs.

Apparently some local schools have been closed recently because of poor infrastructure, but developments at Aquinoe have been recognised, especially the the existence of the Resource Centre and the work going on inside.

Damacline, the physiotherapist was able to show the Education Officer around and show how she gives individualised treatment to the children with special needs.

It seems the Education officer asked Josphat to thank the charity on behalf of the County Education Office for supporting Aquinoe, and promised to find out from the county government how financial support can be given to the school.


Unsung Hero Jean Wins Top Charity Award in New York

Jean’s 15 years devotion to Aquinoe was recognised on Saturday with a top international honour in New York.

Jean, 71, won the humanitarian section of the annual Mwape Peer Awards which are now in their 10th year.

They were founded by New Jersey-based Zambians James and Ruth Mwape to pay tribute to unsung heroes from around the world who have made a difference in Africa through their energy, tenacity and creativity.

Since founding the Aquinoe charity in 2004 well over £150,000 has been raised by Jean with the unflagging aid of fellow trustees (Tina, Lynne and Clive), family, friends and supporters.

Jean, who spent some of her early teaching career in Zambia, has visited Aquinoe many times, often with her sister Tina.

In addition, over the years various friends and family have visited The school to lend a hand as volunteers.

Jean and husband Dave flew to New York for Saturday’s gala event held in a banqueting hall on City Island.

Dave, 74, says: “It was a fantastic evening and we are all so proud of Jean for all she has done over the years.”

Son Chris, 39, who was also there, said “It was a wonderful reminder what an extraordinary woman Jean is and how blessed I feel to have her in my life.”

About 180 people were at  the event, including the co-founders James and Ruth Mwape, Mayor of Yonkers Mike Spano, and a leading figure in international law and economics Professor Kenneth Mwenda.

Other categories apart from the humanitarian sectio(n for which Jean was recognised included education, nursing and professional leadership.

Jean and Dave have kindly been hosted in New York with Mbums, a former pupil of Kaoma Secondary school in Zambia, where Jean taught in the 1970s.

Amazing £689 Raised

Jean and Dave visited Millfield Nursery School in Cropwell Butler, Nottinghamshire, in July to let the pupils know a little more about life at Aquinoe.

Liz has now let us know that an amazing total of £689 was raised by pupils, families and staff at the the nursery school.  How wonderful is that?

Thank you so much.

Aquinoe Teachers’ Training Session

Aquinoe teachers benefitted from a training course to help them with delivery of the new curriculum in early August.

Lilyan, Chair of Governors, and a senior teacher at a government school, took the staff through their paces and passed on valuable advice.

The Aquinoe Learning Centre is the only private school in the area that has had the advantage of a course led by a trained professional.

Comment from Lilyan: “What a beautiful day. An encouraging CBC workshop on new curriculum.”

Comment from one of the young members of staff: “The CBC training was awesome and we have enjoyed.”


Class Eight Trip

Class Eight pupils were taken on a trip to a really special nature park near Eldoret, forty four miles (seventy two kilometres) south of Kitale.  This was to celebrate their time at the Aquinoe Learning Centre, although they will not leave the school until after they take the national examinations next term.

The pupils enjoyed seeing a variety of animals and also the swimming pool.



Visit for Pre-Schoolers

The Pre-School pupils from Aquinoe were taken to the Kitale Nature Conservancy as an end-of-term treat.

In addition to the park’s environmental message through the animals and birds, there is also a playground and Christian section.


Visit to Millfield

Millfield Nursery is located in Cropwell Butler, Nottinghamshire.

It is a ‘younger sister’ to Colston Bassett School in the same area, which Jean and Dave have visited on several occasions to talk to the primary age children about the Aquinoe Learning Centre in Kenya.  Pupils, staff and parents at Colston Bassett have raised significant sums of money for Aquinoe.

Millfield is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary.

Liz and John, who run the school, decided to have an “Africa Week” with the children, and to do some fundraising.  Aquinoe is lucky enough to be a beneficiary.

Jean talked to ten four-year olds who will be moving on to primary school in September.

She showed them photos of the school and the pupils in 2004, contrasting them with the current situation.

The boys and girls were able to see what a difference the charity has made at Aquinoe, for instance, the old and new buildings.

The session finished with the pupils playing Kenyan musical instruments while singing nursery rhymes!



Please see Millfield’s Facebook page for further details of their Africa week and Jean’s visit:

Mercy Graduates

Mercy Kiteki is is now in her third year of teaching at the Aquinoe Learning Centre.

She was teacher of Class One until this year, but is now teacher of Baby Class.

She is such an inspiring and dedicated teacher, that any of her pupils can count themselves as being lucky.

While teaching, she continued her studies and today (28th June 2019) was graduation day.

Congratulations, Mercy – it looks as though it was a wonderful celebration.


Nomination for Jean!

Jean is delighted to announce that she has received a nomination for a humanitarian award at the Mwape Peer Awards for her charity work supporting the Aquinoe Learning Centre in Kitale, Kenya for the past fifteen years.

Jean has accepted an invitation to attend the ceremony, which will take place at the Empire Casino in New York in September 2019.  She is greatly looking forward to the experience and hopes to spread the Aquinoe message even more widely.

Second Term 2019

Staff and pupils started arriving at Aquinoe last week and preparing for the beginning of term today.

Lilian sorting out the library ready for borrowing and class lessons.

Rachel greeting parents and sorting out the inevitable administration at the beginning of term.

Deputy head, Joshua issues books and stationery to teachers and pupils.

Pupils help the cook to dry out corn before putting it into store.

Class Two teacher preparing to clean classroom ready for teaching.

Teaching and non-teaching staff after meeting.

Sarah Fuamba

The trustees received the shocking news of the death of Sarah Fuamba over the weekend.

Sarah had been at the Aquinoe Learning Centre for seventeen years and was dedicated to teaching and caring for all of the children with special needs at the school, whatever their difficulties.

Jean first met Sarah fifteen years ago and counted her as a friend.

She has always been compassionate, calm and considerate, and many children have benefited from these attributes. Recently she took on further training, and was awarded a diploma in special education.

The charity trustees send their condolences to Sarah’s family, at this distressing time.

Song and Dance

Jean met Baljit, who will be taking up a placement at Aquinoe in 2020, in London.

Baljit is in the process of doing a PhD at the University of Sussex and has exciting plans for for Aquinoe.

She will be going to the school for three months.

Part of her plan states the following:

“The structure of this project would involve 3 groups of children aged between 8-13 years old. The groups of children will make a joint decision as to whether they would like to:


  • Construct a song using various materials/resources and instruments available to them
  • Perform a dance to the music that group 1 have created
  • Write lyrics to the music that group 1 have created.


The overarching aim would be to put on a final set of performances in the final month of the placement to the school and/or the community depending on the capacity of the audience and the venue required to cater for this.”


What an exciting prospect!

Crieff Baptist Church donation

Crieff Baptist Church

Crieff Baptist Churchcc-by-sa/2.0 – © Bill Boaden –

The Aquinoe Learning Centre Charitable Trust has received a donation from Crieff Baptist Church which will be used to purchase musical instruments.  These will not only be used in the school itself, but also for Christian services which are held in the school on Sundays.

Thank you so much to the congregation and elders of the church.