How Nova Pioneer Schools are thriving through value innovation

Mr Victor Ochieng', Writer and Author. Photo/COURTESY
Mr Victor Ochieng', Writer and Author. Photo/COURTESY

When you visit Nova Pioneer Schools, you will probably be amazed by their great investment.

I witnessed it last weekend when I set foot in their Eldoret chapters.

A lot of things left me thoroughly thrilled.

All I saw was something I can describe in two words— value innovation.

Foremost, the provenance and proliferation of Nova Pioneer Schools in Kenya are attributed to the Emeritus Principal — Christopher Khaemba — former Chief Principal of Alliance High School.

He decided to venture into this after retiring from public service.

This man of means with admirable business acumen achieved the remarkable feat through a joint effort.

Ipso facto, in 2019, they gave birth to their sixth school in Kenya to add to the seven they have in South Africa.

In Kenya, the schools include Nova Pioneer Primary Athi River, Nova Pioneer Tatu Primary, Nova Pioneer Tatu Girls High School, Nova Pioneer Tatu Boys High school, Nova Pioneer Eldoret Boys High School and Nova Pioneer Eldoret Girls High School.

In addition, in South Africa, they own Nova Pioneer Boksburg, Nova Pioneer Midrand primary and Secondary, Nova Pioneer North Riding, Nova Pioneer Ormonde Secondary, Nova Pioneer Paulshof, and Nova Pioneer Ruimsig.

The next vista was Nigeria, which was back-peddled by the invasion of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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In actual sense, when I set eyes on the elegant gate and beautiful buildings, I was enthused by the éclat of the architectural designs.

From that time hitherto, I am still awed by the state-of-the-art structures, sward of closely-cropped green grass and the fabulous festoon of flowers that make the capacious compound look picturesque.

As a glad lad easily tickled by sartorial style, I felt captivated by the holistic smartness of students.

I met courageous girls and bright boys that looked resplendent in beige and dark-blue uniforms.

In retrospect, I met warm reception from two pleasant Principals from the girls’ and boys’ sides, Mrs. Tubei and Mr. Tum.

Etiquette is a soft skill they exuded at first sight.

The staff and students looked well-cultured.

Then, they obeyed the divine advice in Hebrews 13:2, “Do not hesitate to welcome guests.

For by doing so, some entertained angels unknowingly.”

When I was at Nova Pioneer Schools for the sacrosanct assignment, I took note of the application of soul-stimulating insights I read in a certain heroic book which conscience and conviction are convincing me to drag into this success story.

If you have a fat appetite for self-help books, you must have savored the good food in the Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne.

In that true treasure trove, the putative authors challenge business owners to break out of the Read Oceans of bloody competition through value innovation.

It is a good guide for intelligent investors who crave to create uncontested market space.

It is a marvelous manual for entrepreneurs with a ravenous desire to shine like bright light.

Then, the most exciting bit about Nova Pioneer Schools is the perfect implementation of the Blue Ocean Strategy in the context of the establishment of giant private schools in Africa.

To get it right about applying this stupendous strategy, one has to imagine a market universe composed of two sorts of oceans: Red Oceans and Blue Oceans.

Red Oceans represent all the private schools in existence, while Blue Oceans stand for private schools that are becoming extinct.

Somehow, in the Red Oceans, boundaries are marked and accepted.

The game’s rules are known to all and sundry in that particular sector.

Therefore, private schools as business entities try to survive and thrive by grabbing a more significant share of the existing demand for better, faster, and smarter educational services.

As the market space gets crowded, prospects for plenty of profits and great growth dwindle and fizzle out.

The stiff competition turns the sultry shores of red oceans bloody.

On the other side of the coin, Blue Oceans are defined by the untapped market space, demand creation, and infinite spectra of opportunities for double-digit growth.

Also, some Blue Oceans are created well beyond the existing industrial boundaries.

Like what I saw at Nova Pioneer Schools, most of them are created from within Red Oceans by simply expanding the existing industrial demarcations.

From this, it is crystal clear that in Blue Oceans, competition is irrelevant because the rules of the game are set by the gentle giants in the middle of the ocean reserved for a few.

Delving deep, the founders of Nova Schools understand that value innovation is the heartbeat of the Blue Ocean Strategy.

Instead of focusing on beating the competition in the provision of space in a plethora of private schools we see dotting every corner of the country, Nova Pioneer Schools created a leap in value for parents who look for quality education for their children.

Moreover, when you interact with students from Nova Schools, you will swiftly see something extra in them.

They remain true to their immortal motto: Schools for innovators and leaders.

The students are assertive and sensitive as you address them.

They are observant people who absorb knowledge like a sponge.

In the whole scheme of things, those children have the edge over their peers elsewhere due to the schools’ commitment to three thrilling things: Holistic-formation, character development and value addition.

Somewhat, holistic formation and character development are enhanced through well-thought-out programs.

Nova Pioneer Schools ensures that they hire highly-competent people by taking them through five rigorous stages – CV screening, phone screening, lesson demonstration, meeting of subject experts and meeting of School Leaders.

Again, it means Nova Pioneer Schools do not expose learners to professional charlatans.

Instead, students meet professionals who are veritable giants in their specialization paths.

Recruits are taken through On-Boarding, a one-week plug-in program where they are made to understand the six cultural principles: Servant leadership, always growing, greater together, the solution first, the joy of learning and high expectation.

In addition, teachers are taken through weekly Professional Development (PD) as a stratagem of propping up their performance and productivity.

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At Nova Pioneer Schools, they believe in the aphorism: Feedback is a great gift: It is the champion’s breakfast.

Team leaders are assessed sporadically and given both sides of feedback known as Glows and Grows.

The former focuses on areas they are doing well, while the latter pitches tent on areas where they need to pull up their socks.

Teammates performing below the expectations are taken through Professional Improvement Plan (PIP).

Consequently, Nova Pioneer Schools employ resident chaplains and counselors – to prop up psycho-social and spiritual programs.

For instance, they have group counseling and one-on-one counseling sessions that occur on a weekly basis.

Chaplains ascend to spiritual needs.

Care boxes are also placed strategically in the school compound for learners to drop brief write-ups of their pressing psychological needs.

In my animated chat with one of the counselors, I ascertained that their Student Council and Peer Counsellors are taken through a whole-year training to enhance their efficacy.

Moreover, Nova Pioneer Students enjoy the privileges of adventurous experience and exposure.

Exchange programs in the sphere of public presentation and performance take them to other countries.

They are also exposed to beneficial study-abroad opportunities and scholarship programs.

Furthermore, value addition, a concept close to value innovation, is achieved in the nub through umpteen ways.

They don’t do common handshakes but fist pumps.

They don’t clap but snap.

Principals are called School Leaders.

Teachers are called teammates.

The staffroom is called a workspace.

They have fully integrated ICT into their teaching and learning.

Tutors use slides to teach, which is one way of honing digital-literacy skills in learners.

Finally, Nova Pioneer Schools implement the 8-4-4 Curriculum in a learner-centered manner.

Just as it is espoused in the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC), the teacher is just a facilitator in the purveyance of knowledge.

The teacher is not seen as a sage on the stage but as a guide by the side.

This perfectly agrees with the Critical Pedagogy Theory, where Paulo Freire, the prominent proponent of this Sociological Theory, cautioned educators against treating learners as buckets just there, to be filled with water.

The writer rolls out talks and training services.


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Mr. Ochieng' is an editor, orator and author. His contact:


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