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The Arts Thrive at Brookhouse


Brookhouse School in Nairobi has a long history of academic excellence and sporting achievement. Now the school leads East Africa with a key emphasis on The Arts. Whatever talent your child possesses in drama, music or art, Brookhouse is the school that will nurture their creativity, argues actor, musician and director IAN MBUGUA.

Ian Mbugua is one of the best known names in the world of theatre in East Africa. But who knew he was also a teacher at the prestigious Brookhouse School in Nairobi, where he shares his drama skills with pupils who wish to develop their acting talents. And he is not the only Performing Arts industry professional lending his creative talents to students at Brookhouse. Kenya’s favourite musical son, Eric Wainaina also teaches at Brookhouse, working with students on their music performance skills. So does TV actor and musician Kevin Mbugua, who teaches music entrepreneurship. Involving such industry talent as teachers makes Brookhouse unique in the current educational landscape in East Africa.

And why has Brookhouse developed such a key focus on the Performing Arts? Ian Mbugua offers a simple answer, “Children throughout Kenya and across the continent have enormous talent and potential in music, drama and art, but they need an environment where this talent can be nurtured and Brookhouse provides exactly that.”

With several facilities built specifically to develop student artistic talent, Brookhouse has the finest performance auditorium in Eastern Africa, and boasts a state-of-the-art music and technology centre, impressive drama and art studios to allow pupils to explore their creative talents. “It’s an amazing environment for students who are interested in music, art and drama” says Ian, “and draws pupils from 44 countries who work together to develop their creativity”.

Located in the leafy Nairobi suburb of Langata, 15 minutes from Nairobi city centre, and thirty minutes from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Brookhouse provides a first class international education for over 700 children, aged from 2 – 19 years. Ian Mbugua suggests that the international mix of students engenders an attitude of tolerance and respect, within a real family atmosphere.

“We are most fortunate,” Ian explains, “The school belongs to an international schools organisation called Round Square, and as a global member we are part of an international family of schools that includes Gordonstoun and Wellington in the UK, Daly College and the Doon School in India, Deerfield and Hotchkiss in the USA. This allows our students to travel all over the world to attend international Round Square conferences and global exchanges that extend and develop the international perspective of each student, giving them greater confidence as they grow as global citizens.”

Brookhouse first opened its doors in 1981, and celebrated 30 years of commitment to international education in 2011. In 2001 the school became the first British curriculum school in Kenya to meet the rigorous accreditation standards of the Council of International Schools (CIS), and since then has added IAPS accreditation for its Prep section. Brookhouse offers British system IGCSE and A-levels, and graduates proceed to the finest universities around the world. The school also offers a university Foundation Year programme accredited by the Northern Consortium of UK Universities, and exciting BTEC courses in Music, Music Technology and Art & Design for pupils who wish to really focus their academic pathway on the Creative Arts.

Brookhouse is also the leading high cost school provider of quality boarding in East Africa, with a purpose built on-site boarding facility. The Boarding House, divided in two separate sections, one for boys and one for girls, has accommodation in self-contained flats, in small groups of students who are of the same age. Full laundry and catering facilities are of the highest standards, and boarding house parents ensure a family atmosphere is maintained by combining clear boundaries with a caring approach to the welfare of each child.

Ian Mbugua points to one fundamental issue that shines through at Brookhouse, “As part of our ethos, Brookhouse is proud of the cultural traditions and heritage of Africa, and celebrates its role as a provider of international education within Africa. Our role is to nurture young Kenyans, young Tanzanians and Ugandans…any young people living in Africa to develop the kind of international focus necessary for them to contribute effectively on the world stage”.

Brookhouse boasts outstanding academic results each year, with students excelling in the annual UK Cambridge and Edexcel examinations. But Ian Mbugua points to the Round Square philosophy that makes Brookhouse such a special place, “Most of our students come from fairly affluent family backgrounds, and this provides us with a very important wider challenge as a school than just the delivery of an academic curriculum. We have a responsibility to mould these young people into respectful, sensible and humble young adults who embrace their responsibilities before they demand their rights, who contribute to society rather than seize opportunities only for themselves.” This desire to create an environment that fosters a sense of humble commitment in each child has led the school to develop a unique curriculum approach in which Mathematics, Physics and French are valued as equal to the daily Citizenship programme that encourages servant leadership and an ethical world view for each child.

For artistes like Ian Mbugua and Eric Wainaina an environment that fosters creativity is vital. But all artists also need to learn the art of self discipline if they are to succeed. Interestingly, Brookhouse seems to balance a progressive curriculum with pretty traditional expectations of behaviour from all its pupils. Manners, courtesy and respect are at the core of the values system, and students are very aware that to remain part of the Brookhouse family they must adhere to sensible guidelines for behaviour. In this way the school maintains a very strong sense of discipline and this enables the school to thrive, both academically and as a creative community.

Such quality education comes at a price and Brookhouse fees are high. This allows for constant reinvestment in outstanding facilities, and also allows the school to retain the services of only the finest staff available, including such creative talents as Ian Mbugua and Eric Wainaina. So if your son or daughter is a budding artist, actor or musician, they may indeed find a home for their talents at Brookhouse, where academic excellence and sporting prowess thrive right alongside a celebration of The Arts as a key element in the learning experience.