By Brian Kidula
One of the core strategic aims of the new Chess Kenya office is to put in place a national ‘Chess In Schools’ programme. In line with this, and because of my recent appointment as head of the PR and Marketing Committee in Chess Kenya, I took the initiative to take up the invitation of Mr. Mugambi, a teacher at Mainflow Preparatory School, to visit the school and bolster their ongoing chess programme.
I picked up Chess Kenya chairman, Secretary General and Office Clerk – Githinji Hinga, Akello Atwoli and Moses Andiwoh, respectively – and National Team trainer, John Mukabi, at 11:00am on Thursday, 6th June. We drove to Ngong in Kajiado District where the school is located.
We were greeted on arrival by Mr. Mugambi, who teaches IT at the school, and the Principal, Mrs. Alice Munene. They gathered the students in Standards 2-6 for the chess lesson that we would give. The Standard 7-8 students unfortunately could not attend because they had to prepare for an exam.
The principal mentioned the school started chess lessons in February this year. The main motivation was to discover a way to improve student performance at general studies. Mrs. Munene did her research and then incorporated chess lessons into the school ciriculum. The school has been monitoring the usefulness of this method by doing its own assessments: the results have so far proven that students who were lazy are now more focused in class and exam scores of several other students have improved. This further motivated the school principal to take the chess aspect a level higher.
The school used the British Chess Federation book “Know the Game of Chess” to teach the kids. The school has an inventory of twenty chess boards.
Githinji Hinga and Akello Atwoli, who have also played in the National Chess Team, gave the gathered kids a few crucial chess tips. John Mukabi took on five of the kids simultaneously. Later, the visiting Chess Kenya team addressed the kids on the virtues and benefits of chess.
Chess Kenya plans to build on this by inviting the school to play in the qualifiers for the National Junior Team next month, provide the school with a chess curriculum, send trainers and equip the school with extra chessboards so that the kids can take the next step. Chess Kenya firmly believes that some of these kids will rise up to become future champions of the game. This trip has also served to motivate officials of the National Federation to try and replicate what is happening at Mainflow Preparatory School in other schools nationwide.
Brian Kidula is chairman of the Chess Kenya Public Relations and Marketing Committee.