PRESIDENT HONOURS DRAMA SLUM BOY

It all started during the National Drama Festivals. Little did ‘Otonglo’ narrator, Daniel Owira know that he would be performing before the President and leave him in stitches. However, behind this talented actor lay a huge school fees arrears that stared at him prompting NTV’s Larry Madowo to set-up an M-Pesa paybill number to assist the Highway Secondary student continue with his studies uninterrupted. It is then that, but it seems more was to follow.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has offered full education sponsorship to Daniel Owira, the form two Highway Secondary School student who moved the audience to tears during the Kenya National Drama Festival State concert in Mombasa.

Speaking when he meet Daniel at State House Nairobi today, President Kenyatta said he will pay for his school fees up to and including the university level.

The President said he will be monitoring closely the education progress of the Highway Secondary School student.
“You are now one of my sons. Make sure you give me your report form every end of the term,” President Kenyatta said.

Saying he will move Daniel out of the slums and enroll him as a boarder in his current school, the Head of State urged Daniel to aim at developing his acting talents as he pursues his education.

Said the President: “As I educate you, make sure you do well but do not stop your theatrical work and co-curricular activities.”

The President also assured Daniel’s mother Ms Rose Owiyo that he will revive and revitalize her business. President Kenyatta added that he will support Daniel’s elder sister Susan who works as a volunteer assisting
girls in the slums.

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Laptops or lollipops? Laurier my 3 year old daughter knows the difference.

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I am a high school teacher. Some four years ago, I got into a deal with a friend in the USA to begin a digital village in my home turf. I teach an urban school, but Iam very much localized. I love my Village of Eshibinga.” Eshi” as we commonly call it is located in Kakamega county, Western Kenya, East Africa. Recently, people of Kenya elected a new president. In his campaign the new president promised Kenyans ONE LAPTOP PER CHILD.  Social media is abuzz with the new Kenyan president’s call for OLPC. On social media many say he was misquoted in the election campaigns, since all  he meant was lollipops and not laptops for Kenyan children.  They say this because they feel it is not possible to achieve this in a remote country like ours. I totally disagree with them.

I will never forget when one evening in Eshibinga village. On that day, I packed four xo laptops to take them to the nearest center where I could get power to charge them. On my way back, I was accosted by village thugs. On inspecting my bag they discovered the four xo laptops. They questioned loudly why a grown man like me was moving around with ‘toys’ in my bag. They were disappointed.  Laptops is not an everyday word in Kenya, let alone my village.

Nonetheless, the President is emphatic that solar-driven laptops will be provided from January 2014. If this happens, Kenya will have edged closer to realising its dream of being a regional tech hub, joining the leagues of a few other countries in the world which have made deliberate efforts to reach. But critics disagree.

Critics of the laptop project believe that the government is better off first ensuring that every child has access to food and shelter before committing over Sh14 billion to laptops. Many Kenyan schools are without adequate learning materials and other needs like school uniforms which still remain the burden of parents, why would laptops be a priority? That is the ten million dollar question teachers at Eshibinga primary asked me when I introduced laptops in the school. A parent asked me, “Will the children be allowed to carry them home and back to school or they would remain for safekeeping at school?”  The principal came to me one morning and said “What about getting your sponsors to install a computer lab so that children can use them at scheduled periods?” These are the questions being asked today in Kenya to the new government.  Can this be prioritized instead? A hungry child will not benefit from a laptop.

The worst comment I have read so far is the one that questions the rationale for the laptop project. I have heard them say “Most children in Class One are still too young to understand some concepts. The best they will do with the machine is play with them and not do anything productive. THEY ARE DEAD WRONG.

At two years, my daughter Laurier operates my iPhone with ease. She knows where the pictures sit, where her items on YouTube sit and all her apps are about learning – ABCs, counting, numbers, songs, animals, instruments, cars, planes etc.

Annoyingly, she also knows how to take the phone off “airplane mode”. I used to think I could save myself some money if she couldn’t access YouTube, but when the phone says “disable or cancel”, she chooses disable. I weep. She can’t read, but she knows what gets her what she wants. If your phone isn’t “touch”, she tends to give it back with the words “not working”. The iPad may be bigger than her little hands, but she doesn’t care; she’s all over it.

Let me say it again – I can see President Uhuru Kenyatta’s dream for the Kenyan child through my daughter’s eyes. Her future is digital, technology is her language, but can you imagine what she will be doing and what her technological needs will be by the time she is six? Look guys, I did not vote for Uhuru Kenyatta, but I love his idea. He is my president.

The laptops must not be a gimmick, they must not end up as waste, they can’t be toys like the Eshibinga village thugs thought. Mr. President, some of us have tried it in our villages. It is working despite the challenges.

BY PETER AMUNGA

KISUMU HIGH SCHOOL

peteramunga@gmail.com

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LESSONS TO BE LEARNT WITH THE XO LAPTOPS IN ESHIBINGA

The Kenya government has made a pledge. The one laptop per child pledge by this government could provide the radical transformation needed to broaden access and equity, make our education child-centered and improve learning outcomes. This pledge is not new in the world or this region of East Africa.  If you have read this blog before then you have heard of the OLPC organization.

Four years ago, with the help of friends of OLPC we in Eshibinga village got acess to five xo laptops to be used by kids at a local primary school.  This is what we have seen so far.

  1. A laptop can take the child beyond mindless, unthinking learning.
  2. A laptop can enable the child to actively engage in a process of learning through doing.
  3. A laptop can encourage self-directed learning and peer-to-peer learning, where children also learn by actively assisting other learners.

When laptops arrived at Eshibinga primary school and were introduced, attendance surged. I have over 20 students whom I can parade to the world to prove that  use of laptops in the classroom helped  rural, 10 year old Kenyan children write more, faster and better.

When Sandra visited the village to see what we were doing you could Imagine the burst of creativity  Eshibinga primary kids had with an xo laptop with a built-in functionality for still and video photography, voice recording, and game playing can unlock in a child. What our children lack is not capability, but opportunity and resources.

When a child has a laptop, they have in their hands the key to active co-creation. Socio-economic barriers are annihilated because they can access high-quality learning resources, engage their passions and develop their expertise.

What I am saying is, Kenyans do not need to fear the arrival of laptops in class. It has been tested elsewhere and proven. Let us accept change.

 

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Digitalize Kenya

WE NEED TO WELCOME THE OLPC ON BOARD IF WE WANT TO SUCCEED IN DIGITALIZING KENYA.
Today, the people of Kenya including the rural folk at Eshibinga village are discussing the realisation of a promise by the newly elected Kenya government to provide a solar-powered laptop to every Kenyan child joining Standard One next year. President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, Mr William Ruto, pledged to give free solar-powered laptops to each of the 800,000 children joining Class One in 2014 with a view to raising a tech-savvy generation that would fit better in the modern world.

Rwanda is the only country in the East African region with such a programme. It deploys at least 100,000 laptops to school-going children across the country every year. For your information Rwanda has adopted the use of XO laptops. Will Kenya also go the xo laptops way?
If this happens, Kenya will have edged closer to realising its dream of being a regional tech hub, joining the leagues of a few other countries in the world which have made deliberate efforts to expose pupils to technology early in their lives.
But it is an uphill task. A significant portion of Kenya’s public schools, especially those in the rural areas like Eshibinga primary, have teachers who are barely conversant with computers and how they work. If it were not for efforts of Sandra Thaxter from the OLPC and her team, Eshibinga primary would still be ignorant to the world of computers. Three years ago, Sandra handed over three xo laptops and made Eshibinga primary a digitalized school.
For the project to succeed, the government will have to conduct thorough training of teachers before they can manage to instruct the children on how to use the machines. This is what Sandra nad fred have been trying to do.
Another challenge is not just acquiring the laptop or the hardware, there is need to concentrate on the software and the digitisation of the syllabus.
Over the past few years, the government has put in high gear efforts to digitise learning materials from the Kenya Institute of Education, a process that is still ongoing and has been partially blamed for the slow adoption of e-learning despite the availability of many applications to support it.
This will be the other headache that the new government will grapple with before it starts dishing out the laptops next year, as demand rises for digitised learning material, including illustrations and pictures that can appeal to Class One pupils. It is at this point that groups that had a vision of digitalizing Kenya, like that run by Sandra come into focus. They have to be brought on board. Welcome the OLPC and other groups and help our new Government digitalise Kenya.

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Laptops for kenyan children Will it work?

WE NEED TO WELCOME THE OLPC ON BOARD IF WE WANT TO SUCCEED IN DIGITALIZING KENYA.

Today, the people of Kenya including the rural folk at Eshibinga village are discussing the realisation of a promise by the newly elected Kenya government to provide a solar-powered laptop to every Kenyan child joining Standard One next year. President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, Mr William Ruto, pledged to give free solar-powered laptops to each of the 800,000 children joining Class One in 2014 with a view to raising a tech-savvy generation that would fit better in the modern world.

 

Rwanda is the only country in the East African region with such a programme. It deploys at least 100,000 laptops to school-going children across the country every year.  For your information Rwanda has adopted the use of XO laptops. Will Kenya also go the xo laptops way?

If this happens, Kenya will have edged closer to realising its dream of being a regional tech hub, joining the leagues of a few other countries in the world which have made deliberate efforts to expose pupils to technology early in their lives.

But it is an uphill task. A significant portion of Kenya’s public schools, especially those in the rural areas like Eshibinga primary, have teachers who are barely conversant with computers and how they work. If it were not for efforts of Sandra Thaxter  from the OLPC and her team, Eshibinga primary would still be ignorant to the world of computers. Three years ago, Sandra handed over three xo laptops and made Eshibinga primary a digitalized school.

For the project to succeed, the government will have to conduct thorough training of teachers before they can manage to instruct the children on how to use the machines. This is what Sandra nad fred have been trying to do.

Another challenge is not just acquiring the laptop or the hardware,  there is need to concentrate on the software and the digitisation of the syllabus.

Over the past few years, the government has put in high gear efforts to digitise learning materials from the Kenya Institute of Education, a process that is still ongoing and has been partially blamed for the slow adoption of e-learning despite the availability of many applications to support it.

This will be the other headache that the new government will grapple with before it starts dishing out the laptops next year, as demand rises for digitised learning material, including illustrations and pictures that can appeal to Class One pupils. It is at this point that groups that had a vision of digitalizing Kenya, like that run by Sandra  come into focus. They have to be brought on board. Welcome the OLPC and other groups and help our new Government digitalise Kenya.

 

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SANDRA THAXTER PAYS ESHIBINGA KIDS A VISIT.


SANDRA THAXTER PAYS ESHIBINGA KIDS A VISIT.
Just when schools were supposed to open in Kenya in early September 2012, Sandra the founder of Small solutions big ideas inc. paid a visit to Eshibinga village to see the progress on the XO laptops projects. Her visit coincided with a national teacher’s strike that had been called by Kenyan teachers to demand for better pay. Students and pupils in all public schools in Kenya reported to school on September 3rd but they did not find teachers, and were forced to go back home.
It was then that Eshibinga IT kids set up a school in Peter’s home. Here they were able to access their XO laptops and revise on their own. Nelso Mandela a standard eight pupil who is due to sit for his national exams this year was delighted with the use of XO laptops as revision material. Sandra arrived to find the xo computer club assembled in Peter’s home. She was delighted with the way the kids are committed to using the laptops even without classroom and teacher guidance.

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PREPARATIONS FOR SUMMER CAMP PROJECTS BY THE ESHIBINGA VILLAGE IT KIDS.

PREPARATIONS FOR SUMMER CAMP PROJECTS BY THE ESHIBINGA VILLAGE IT KIDS.

Eshibinga is a village in Western Kenya. The village has a population of about 2 000 people. Poverty, ignorance and disease are rampant in this lowly rural African village. The village is served with 5 primary schools children. The 5 primary schools are;

  1. Eshibinga Primary School
  2. Mushikongolo Primary School
  3. Emakuche Primary School
  4. Emalindi Primary School.
  5. Emukhunzulu Primary School

Eshibinga Primary is superior of the 5 and has a population of about 700 pupils. The common factors that ties school going children in this area are

 a) jigger menace,

b) lack of basic learning materials eg, books, stationery, school bags, shoes and uniform

c) Exposure. 

Exposure  is the problem that the Eshibinga xo project is trying to address.  This is project that was founded by Small solutions Big Ideas foundation in conjunction with Jane Wanja aims to provide classroom children with laptops.  In Eshibinga the idea was to provide this village kids with IT skills using a child centered laptop. The CEO of Small Solutions Big Ideas Inc. Sandra Thaxter and Jane Wanja have so far provided 8 xo laptops and 8 bicycles , an internet connection and power to charge the laptops. Also they have visited the site and seen for themselves the progress of the project. Sandra on her last visit did take time to interact with the pupils first hand. She saw the eagerness and focal energy the children have directed towards the XO laptops. Sandra did take note, that despite the biting poverty that has engulfed the village, there is hope. Hope that efforts to expose  these rural children via internet connections using their xo laptops will open the windows of the world to them. The world will come to the pupils and the pupils will go to the world and tell their story. 

Indeed, the efforts are starting to bear fruit. Currently the Eshibinga kids are using Internet connections to communicate with their pen pals in Canada, the UK and the USA. The kids have opened e-mail addresses using the e-pals.com which helps the to get classroom linking with other pupils around the globe. The Eshibinga IT kids together with their able teachers have maintained a blog/ web page where they update their day to day happenings. You can see them on wordpress.eshibinga.com

To show how successful this expose  is, efforts are now underway to have a volunteer teacher from the USA come and be with the kids of Eshibinga and teach them IT skills. Finally and most important. A summer camp which will bring together kids in western Kenya to learn IT skills, Maths and sciences has been organized to take place in Kenya’s 3rd largest city. Kisumu. Sandra has been busy raising funds from well wishers to support as many kids as possible from Eshibinga to attend the camp. The kids are excited. They want to go to that big city with lights and many motorcars. They want to see the tall buildings and the large crowds of people. They want to prove to the urban kids that they too can use a computer. (Their only worry is that they have no shoes and urban kids will laugh at their bare feet, some have  jiggers.) The Eshibinga primary school kids have four project which they would love to present at the summer camp using their xo laptps. The groups have names and the following are their projects.

Group I. THE ESHIBINGA IT WITCHES: (

Title of Project: Jigger menace and how to eradicate it using xo laptops.

Members:

  1. Mary Omusambai
  2. Edwin Omtiti
  3. Sydney Ashioya
  4. Jethro Omukuba
  5. Rose Gadi

Summary of Project:

The group Members are going to use xo laptops and sugar activities and mapping activity to show how they have mapped out  danger spot in their village where if you walk bare footed you will surely be infested with jiggers. They will also prove to the rest of the campers that jigger menace is a hygienic problem that can be stopped is proper methods of hygiene are practiced. The proper methods of hygiene will be taught using xo laptop sugar activity of record, chat and browse. They have downloaded pictures  and by using xo laptops they will demonstrate that we can make our environment jigger free.

Group 2. THE ESHIBINGA COMPUTER LOVERS

Title of Project: Using XO laptops to improve our Academic results.

Members:

  1. Peter Amukhale
  2. Washington George
  3. Riper Omuroka
  4. Nyanya Danny
  5. Roslyne

Summary of Project:

Group members wish to demonstrate that , the use of xo’s in schools can help improve academic results. They will demo to the  rest of the camp participants that by using xo’s their grades have remarkably improved in Mathematics, English and fine art. They will be armed with grids, graphs and pie charts which they have drawn using xo laptops showing improved academic results since the inception of xo ‘s in their school. They will show how spellings  and pronunciations of English words can be made easy using the write activity. They will also show how to pronounce English words correctly without any mother tongue influence.

GROUP 3: THE I.T LIONS OF ESHIBINGA

Title of project: e-pals using xo laptops.

Summary of the project:

Group members:

The entire class six B of Eshibinga Primary.

Summary of Project:

Group Members have pen pals across the globe. They have been using the browse and chat activity on their xo laptops to make e- pals connections. They have e-pals in Canada, England and Singapore. They communicate using email which is available on their xo laptops. They have put together copies of their emails and chat activities which they will show to the campers. They have one aim. To show that by owning xo laptops they have the world at their finger tips. They will prove that thye are using computers to place Eshibinga on the world map.

 

All these groups want to go to the camp this August. The problem is. Funding. If funds will be available, then you will see us in Kisumu.

 

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