Founder’s Story

Carol Owala

Carol is the founder of Kenya Big Picture Learning, providing coaching and mentoring to five low cost community secondary schools in Nairobi's largest informal settlements. She is also the co-founder of Tabasamu Watoto Inclusive Centre a pre-school kindergarten program serving children from informal settlements, many of them with special needs. Prior to leading this innovative venture, Carol was a leadership coach of Dignitas where she designed and implemented a new model for supporting struggling students. Over 600 teachers from low-cost community schools in Nairobi’s informal settlements have benefited to date.

Carol grew up in poverty in Kibera, one of the largest informal settlements in Africa, where she became familiar with disease, hunger and injustices being perpetrated against poor children in their education. These experiences would shape her decision to dedicate her life to work with students, families, teachers and school leaders to transform opportunities for students from financially impoverished backgrounds. 

In 2014, Carol met Bonnie Lathram, a passionate educator then working as an advisor at Highline Big Picture School in Burien, Washington, through an online course about global urban education that they were both taking with Johns Hopkins University.  Bonnie then generously shared links to resources, mailed books to Kenya and provided the resources Carol needed to learn about the BPL model. Fast forward to January 2018 and Five Big Picture Learning inspired schools are in action for the first time in Kenya and Africa, providing hundreds of African students a quality schooling experience!