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03 May 2024

Kenyan educator striving for peace in the classroom and community

Sylvester Kalama is working to bring peace education to his students in Kenya.

In 2017 Mr Kalama, and his colleague attended a Schools2030 meeting, with little to no expectation of how another ‘training’ session could help them solve the problems they faced in their classrooms. Students in their school came from different villages, with different cultures, often leading to conflict in the classroom. 


They wanted to focus on finding a way to support their learners to reconcile their differences, whereby they could work together and solve their differences amicably. By the end of the session with Schools2030, they had co-designed an idea for peace club activities in their school. Their goal was to create a programme that showed students it is possible to solve issues peacefully, focusing on skills of understanding, mutual respect and appreciation of diversity. 


The after-school programme Amani clubs: Our peace my responsibility (the word Amani means peace) was born. Through the club, learners engage in a variety of activities to enhance their collaborative skills and team spirit. Activities include football matches where teams are mixed participants from different villages, peace walks and community service exercises. 

“The peace clubs will create a harmonious environment where learning and teaching will take place peacefully. This peaceful co-existence will eventually spread to the communities leading to peaceful villages.”


Sylvester Kalama, Principal at Sheikh Ahmad Msallam Secondary School in Lamu County Lamu East Subcounty Mbwajumwali village


Mr Kalama believes that through this initiative students will become friends with those from other villages, and this will permeate into their wider community. He credits his recent promotion to principal due to his work in creating unity among students, instilling confidence in his community that he was the perfect candidate to do the job. 


Mr Kalama now helps to train other teachers in his school on how they can assist learners in their classrooms, and reduce conflict amongst students. He likes to show teachers that peace education can be incorporated into every lesson. 

“I'm a teacher of mathematics by profession, so when I teach math, for example, I include peace lessons. When working on fractions, I get students to share, through that sharing students start having a positive mindset toward befriending one another for our lessons and creating a harmonious learning environment.”


Sylvester Kalama, Principal at Sheikh Ahmad Msallam Secondary School in Lamu County Lamu East Subcounty Mbwajumwali village

Amani Clubs has scaled quickly since 2017. Mr Kalama worked alongside other stakeholders, such as the school board of management to encourage neighboring schools to also join, creating a movement working in the whole county. The Government of Kenya was also actively working to encourage peace education, and this has helped Amani Clubs to spread at the national level.


Mr Kalama also notes the positive impact Amani Clubs has had on student dropout rates. He has seen an increase in school attendance, and less students leaving school early. He hopes to continue seeing an improvement in school engagement. Mr Kalama who currently works on an island off of Kenya, also hopes that his work will expand to making his students feel welcome on the mainland, and negate any fears of conflict. 

Mr Kalama has now posted Club Amani on Faved, to help share the work he is doing with fellow educators around the world, in the hope that they can bring peace to more classrooms and communities. 


Find out more about Club Amani and Mr Kalama’s work with Schools2030 here