Tablets Delivered, But Are They Used?

Here’s the picture of a typical Wamunyu classroom: cement walls with a few handmade posters of learning concepts, worn wooden bench desks that seat 2 to 3 students, a blackboard and a cracked cement floor. The classrooms are typically dark, but filled with the radiance of pupils, eager to learn.

In 2017, the Kenyan government issued a laptop computer and tablets to the primary schools in Kenya including Wamunyu in an effort to provide 21st century learning.   One would think, finally….technology had come to the classroom, but….. and this is a big but…..most teachers did not know how to use the technology and kept the tablets and computer locked away for safe keeping. Most of these teachers had never used a computer, tablet or even smart phone and the brief training that was provided 8 months prior to the dissemination of the equipment wasn’t adequate. Not only did they not know how to integrate technology into the Kenyan curriculum, they were petrified to use the equipment in fear that it might break.

As Kenya Connect staff learned of this challenge, they consulted with the local Curriculum Development Officer to see if training at our Learning Resource Center would be helpful. As a result, Patrick Munguti, Director of Technology Education and ICT at Kenya Connect, met with experts on how to use the tablets and computer and developed a training for local teachers and teachers from the nearby Kyaithani Cluster. This Digital Literacy class teaches basic ICT skills, how to use the teacher and student devices, and the Netscape manager control.

In addition to providing the basics to the teachers on how to use the computer and tablets, Patrick has worked with the teachers on how to integrate the technology into the curriculum. He also demonstrated the use of the World Possible Rachel Plus, a content-rich device that can be used as a “server” to the instructional computer. The Rachel Plus has e-books, interactive components of the Kenyan curriculum, Wikipedia, Ted Talks, and much more. Kenya Connect has Rachel Plus devices that teachers can check out of our lending library to use in the classroom. One of our goals is to eventually have enough Rachel Plus devices for each school.

I never knew that these gadgets had so much to learn and teach my students. I will now incorporate technology in my class. –Mr. Kyuu from Ngului PS

The teachers attending these classes are invited to join a “WhatsApp” group so they can share questions, ideas and how they have used the technology with each other. In an effort to make sure the devices are being used and to support the teachers, Patrick will be visiting the classrooms during the remainder of the academic year and serves as “tech” support to them.

I am quite impressed by the follow-up calls the teachers are making to ask for help in case they get stuck while at school. This is an indicator that they are using the technology in their classrooms. Patrick Munguti

This is just one of the many initiatives that Kenya Connect is providing to our 55 partner schools to help transform education in our village. We are striving to have our students become 21st century learners fully utilizing the resources provided.

Training has been conducted for 172 teachers from KC partner schools and 24 teachers from Kyaithani cluster for a total of 196 teachers. By July we expect to have a total of 216 teachers trained. We are grateful to the Sunshine Coast-Sechelt Rotary Club of British Columbia, Canada who provided a generous grant to support this technology training.

The “R” in the LRC!

Resource: to provide (a person or organization) with materials, money, staff, and other assets necessary for effective operation

Kenya Connect’s Learning Resource Center (LRC) has become the hub of enrichment activity in Wamunyu for the students and teachers at 44 primary and 11 secondary schools and has provided material and enrichment resources for the community and beyond.

During this past year, most of the primary schools in Kenya received computer tablets from the Kenyan government. Although this was a positive step for rural schools that lack even the most basic school supplies, it was implemented with mixed results since most of the teachers were not comfortable or trained on how to use the technology. When visiting the schools, the Kenya Connect team saw tablets locked in cabinets. When inquiring about the tablets, many of the teachers reluctantly replied they were not comfortable using the technology.

As a result, the Kenya Connect staff researched and found a master teacher on the tablets technology. The master teacher has worked hand in hand with our technology specialist Patrick Munguti to develop a three-days training session to help teachers in Wamunyu to effectively use the tablets.. Kenya Connect has also reached out to partner teachers in six other primary schools in Kyaithani Cluster in Kitui county to offer joint training on the new technology along with KC teachers. The master teacher and Patrick will jointly conduct 6 training sessions. Kenya Connect has been partnering with Kyaithani as a result of our partnership with the Sunshine coast-Sechelt Rotary Club of British Columbia Canada.

We are very pleased to announce that the Sunshine Coast-Sechelt Rotary Club’s grant proposal was funded by The Rotary Foundation for $14,800 to provide training for 216 teachers from both Wamunyu and Kyaithani cluster on how to effectively use the technology as well as to provide Rachael plus devices and additional educational content to 6 primary schools. The grant will also fund two projectors in two secondary schools. This dynamic training will begin in January and continue through June, 2018. One of the goals of the training is to have at least 4 teachers from each school successfully learn how to use the technology in order to share it with other teachers in their community.

As we prepare for 2018, Kenya Connect continues to look at creative and innovative ways to be a RESOURCE for teachers and students in rural Kenya. Launching our teacher tablet training will be an exciting way to commence the new academic year.

Will You Support a Super Hero? #GivingTuesday

It’s that wonderful time of the year filled with Giving!  One special way to give this season is to make a donation that supports our Super Hero students in Kenya.  Did you know that most of our students are children of subsistence farmers, wood carvers or basket weavers?  Staying in school and achieving is very challenging for these children and they overcome many odds to learn.  You can help make the difference in the life of students like Helen.  She is the third daughter of a wood carver and farmer and dreams of being a nurse.  Thanks to past donations, Helen learned how to use a computer at the Kenya Connect Learning Resource Center and used computer assisted design and a 3D printer to make a small solar flashlight.  Participating in deworming, hand washing and our other health initiatives has also helped keep Helen healthy and in school.

We invite you to make a donation on #GivingTuesday, November 28 or through the month of December.  You can make a donation  HERE or on Global Giving and if you do a recurring gift on Global Giving, your gift will be matched!  We also have a special deworming fundraiser occurring thanks to Johnson and Johnson’s Caring Crowd program.  Each of those donations will be matched 100% so if you make a $50 gift it is worth $100 to KC!