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Pre-scholars using the PCs at Karibu Centre

iHub By Anne / May 12, 2013

PC’s For Children: Can the idea work in Kenya?

9 Comments

Ever since the new government announced in their manifesto that they will be deploying laptops to standard 1 children in schools across Kenya, the big question  on everyone’s mind is how will this program work? Can the country afford it? What would it take to make the idea work?

Last Friday I had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion which focused on how ICTs can be used to promote learning in Kenya, challenges expected and lessons learned from those who have already deployed those ICTs in schools in Kenya. The meeting took place at KARIBU CENTRE which is dedicated to providing basic needs, education and empowerment to the most vulnerable women children in and around Thika, Kenya. Also present at the meeting were representatives from the British Council, Intel, VMWARE and Team4Tech.

Team4Tech in collaboration with Intel are using the Intel Classmate PCs and adaptive learning software to teach preschool children literacy, numeracy and science skills on the PCs at the Karibu Centre. The PCs use solar chargers. The children are aged between 3-6 years and they spend an average of about half an hour a day on the computers using them. Some skills taught by the software to the pre scholars include coloring, pronunciation skills, shapes, word games e.tc. The PCs contain programs that monitor each student’s performance to keep track of their improvement. At present, the centre has about 140 students.

When deploying  ICTs in schools, it is important to consider some key things: the teachers; getting local content used on these machines as well as how to ensure sustainability of the initiative. Towards this end, the Team4 Tech team has a program that trains the teachers in the schools in Thika basic computer skills (how to operate computers, typing skills, use of Microsoft tools like MS Word, PowerPoint e.t.c) as well as how to operate the programs installed in the laptops that the pre scholars are using. So far, 60 teachers have been trained through this program.Volunteers from across the world from corporations like Intel, VMware, from Orphans Overseas and from Kenya take two weeks to train the teachers in these courses.  Getting digitized local content based in the approved curriculum still remains a huge challenge. Currently the program uses the Waterford early learning software on their machines.

Assumptions and opportunities that arise from deploying ICTs in schools are:

  • There is a huge demand for local content: Developers should consider designing software applications that can extract content from the textbooks and be used on either pc’s or mobile devices. Publishers in Kenya should readily avail their content digitally as opposed to just on textbooks.
  • Policies need to be adjusted to reflect the structure that should be followed on deploying the ICTs in schools, the do’s and don’ts as well as focus on how to protect the children when they access online content.

Team4 tech will be rolling out this program in four schools in Thika town which will receive about 21 computers each. For more information please visit the Face Book pages: https://www.facebook.com/karibucentre and https://www.facebook.com/team4tech.

*PC’s- Personal Computers

Author : Anne

Anne Salim studies the growth of African mobile-based education with a focus on the sustainable use of technologies in schools. Anne is currently a researcher at iHub, where she leads the program on M-Governance. The study has focused on the role of mobile devices for enhancing transparency in governance of the water sector. Anne studied Business Information Technology from Strathmore University and her interests include applying Design Thinking processes to Kenya, as well as facilitating Hackathon events.


9 Comments
  • Murathimi at 10:57:15AM Monday, May 13, 2013

    A very informative article. A great contribution to this very important debate. ICT is the way to go. But we need to have meaningful dialogue and how this should go and how to add value to this unstoppable train. Thanks Anne

    Reply
  • SaM at 12:06:44PM Monday, May 13, 2013

    Your article still doesn’t answer the question of whether it can be done.

    Reply
  • Calvin Mwenda at 16:24:23PM Monday, May 13, 2013

    The first step in my opinion, should be digitizing the textbooks kids use in school. Till this content is available and easily accessible, I feel like the idea of having a digital learning experience will just be a piped dream.
    Nice article by the way.

    Reply
  • Njogu James at 16:46:46PM Monday, May 13, 2013

    This is a great job that you are doing.
    Keep up the good work.

    If i wanted to contact Anne how am i able to do that.

    Kind Regards

    Reply
  • Anne at 16:35:13PM Wednesday, May 29, 2013

    Hi James, you can email me: anne@ihub.co.ke. Thanks

    Reply
  • Anne at 16:37:04PM Wednesday, May 29, 2013

    Hi Sam,I think the idea was to pose the question, expose what’s happening and have the reader make the judgement of whether it works or not. Thanks for your comment though

    Reply
  • Anne at 16:38:35PM Wednesday, May 29, 2013

    @Murathimi, dialogue between the different partners is very important, the ongoing discussions in edtech forums in Kenya are also emphasizing the same.
    @Calvin, thanks for your comment

    Reply
  • learn about in Horticulture at 13:28:41PM Friday, June 7, 2013

    Hi there, everything is going perfectly here
    and ofcourse every one is sharing facts, that’s really good, keep up writing.

    Reply
  • Jill Finlayson at 04:12:09AM Tuesday, July 2, 2013

    Team4Tech project has returned from the field – see recaps of work accomplished here:

    Photos of project volunteers at work: http://team4tech.org/galleries
    Intel volunteers – blog: http://team4tech.org/content/thika-tech
    Overview of project: http://team4tech.org/project/oo/karibucentre

    Reply

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