Marianne Darwinkel

“Kenyans are flexible because no one had planned anything in advance, meaning lots is possible”

Hello, good morning my name is Marianne Darwinkel. Working in Kenya for 16 years. Now at NCMTC. The HUF has assisted the college a lot over the past few years which has really helped to build the college. It started from the assignment that brought me to Kenya. We started the college in 2010. The first support came in December 2010/2011? The Christmas project supported the college to purchase mannequins for the skills lab. Since that time the Hanze has supported in many different occasions. A lot with supporting students. They have assisted around 10 students to make sure they could train in clinical medicine, nursing or nutrition. They have assisted two of our staff directly to help them do short courses in the Netherlands to experience how things are done differently there, but also interesting content. And also by bringing many Hanze staff here with whom they had a lot of interaction. And then the Hanze has assisted a lot with infrastructure development, with construction and equipping the skills lab. There also quite a number of people in the Netherlands who we know and would like to support the college. But sometimes they find it complex to donate to the college, so they donate to the Foundation who forwards it to us.

A lot wouldn’t have been possible without financing from the Foundation. Definitely where it has helped is to accelerate the college’s development. Especially for the infrastructure. From the beginning, we’ve tried to be self-sustaining, in a way that the running costs are met from what the students pay. Of course the first two years that wasn’t possible, then we had other support. If you want to grow there is so much you have to do. The Foundation has made it possible for more students to go into training and for the college to grow much faster so we could help to improve the workforce. It really wouldn’t have been possible to become a significant contributor to the healthcare workforce in the coast of Kenya.

For the students that have been supported, they would not have been able to go to school.

This college is unique in Kenya because of the modern curriculum. Education in Kenya is very traditional. Lecturing in front of a class is still the common practice. It’s still the same as 20-30 years ago. They have updated information, but are using old teaching methods. We are really competence-based. Students spend a lot of time in the skills lab, integrating practice with the theory, much more student-centered. We have lots of group work, student research, plenary presentations, active learning. On the coast we are the only non-governmental training institution. In the six counties that make up the coast of Kenya, which is an area of 3x the Netherlands.

When I look at the graduates and how they are doing. I’ll start general and then say something about the specific students. The college started in 2012. They graduated in 2015 and finished their internships in 2017. So that’s not a long time ago. And from the subsequent classes, they have just graduated. SO it’s not so much that we can say. In general for people from the college, one thing is for sure. They don’t have trouble to find a job. That is so satisfying. The need is there, the opportunities are there.

We try to retain students that are good scholars at the college. For nursing, we couldn’t even ask them because they were employed so quickly.

Nutritionists have a bit more difficulty to find places. Because they’re not only government positions but also for CBO’s, NGOs. IT’s not that they’re not working, they’re all employed, but often with shorter contracts. Then we have community health, they were immediately absorbed. Particularly at the organizations where they did their internships.

Nicton is working in the college. He was one of the very good students. The methodology we have is so new in Kenya, that it’s best to have people that underwent it and build it up. He has participated in another training for medical education. We want to help him do a bachelor course to specify in one of the areas. We’re really trying to keep him.

Our plans for the future is to grow. The need is there. And to become more and more sustainable. We now have around 500 students. With around 600 we will be quite stable. We are also trying to integrate the service delivery with the training. Especially primary health care in the community. We are working with the government to be active in this area. We are in a sub-location, with a population of 14 000 people. Being a rural area, we want to improve the health in this area with the resources we have at this college in terms of manpower. The other thing that we are trying to focus on is to see whether we can focus more on continuous professional development. Short courses for people working to give expertise in specific areas. There’s one more, we want to provide more education about research, statistics. We like the evidence-based approach, to see that something is working when you do it. Establish a research department. Not to do more technical bio-medical things, but really trying to see whether approaches are helping and finding data from the ground. It will give us better information to what really focus on.

Graduates: 180-200 students (1st 31, 2nd 82, 3rd, 93)

Current number of students: 498 students

We started with 5 staff in 2012. Currently we have almost 50 staff. 15 supportive, 35 are academic staff.

Classrooms: started leasing 1 classroom. When we moved to our own campus, we had 3 classrooms without doors and windows, but with a roof. Currently we have 5 classrooms and 1 room that doubles as a board room. That’s why we are trying to build. Construction here is very expensive.

The constraints at the moment are in classrooms and offices.

We have completed the foundation, the floor and the walls for the academic building that will contain the classrooms, offices that we need so much. Eventually it will be a four-story building. That will help us.

Kenya is very nice, otherwise I wouldn’t be here. I think I can share something that is really different, I’m a bit flexible there myself, timing is a different issue. It’s not that people don’t want to be on time, but in the Netherlands, things normally run very smoothly. In Kenya, things normally don’t run smoothly. Any day people are on strike, power is not there, matatu’s (mini buses) are being stopped by the police. There are many reasons why things don’t work. If a Dutch says, we’ll meet at 2, you meet at 2. And you both mean that unless something really dramatic happens, you will be there. In Kenya, you mean, both of you will try to meet at 2. You could be there substantially later than 2. Most of the time then meet at around 2:30. Then they are all at the same place at the same time. Because everyone had a reason to be late. Timing is the intention, not a given factor.

The other is that Dutch have a full agenda. So when I go home I have to make appointments with people before I arrive. But mostly, Kenyans are flexible because no one had planned anything in advance, meaning lots is possible.

What is so nice about the support from the Foundation is that, not to flatter, but that they Foundation has helped us in many ways. But in overall what is very nice is the human aspect of it, and the fact that we are a training institution. We can really work together on many things. I really really enjoyed it when all the staff were here and we had a real exchange, we could all talk to each other as colleagues. That is very nice.