For many years OLPC Kenya included a number of small deployment communities: Asilong in West Pokot, three OLPCorps projects (Kibwezi, Mombasa-North, and Nairobi), and an east-coast project near Lamu. In those times OLPC Kenya seemed to be an organization run by a Non Governmental organization limited to a select few. Not Anymore. Today, In all, there are some 5000 children in 5over 20 schools in Kenya learning with XOs. Sandra’s visit to Kenya early this year demonstrated that OLPC Kenya is growing in leaps and bounds and embracing the Kenyan child in all the regions. We at Eshibinga primary were able to interact with the founder of Small solutions, Big ideas at a very personal level. She lived with us in the village, infact at one time she was so scared that she may get infected by jiggers that are so rampant in Eshibinga village. Eshibinga primary school is one of the schools in Western Kenya that has embraced the use of XO laptops in classroom teaching.
Sandra visted several of the places in Kenya where OLPC is taking root and affecting lives of school going children. Apart from the visits, Sandra held seminars and discussions with the teachers and leaders on how to make OLPC effective in school communities and Kenya in general. Sandra also held lessons in classrooms with xo learners on mapping. To achieve this she used a Kenyan IT expert Oscar Limoke. This lessons were held in Bungoma, Eshibinga and in Taita. One of the greatest achievements that Sandra made during her trip was her connection with Kenya’s assistant minister for education, The Honourable Calistas mwatela. The ministry of education in Kenya is responsible for all education matters. The following is the vision and mission of the Ministry.
“To have a globally competitive quality education, training and research for Kenya’s sustainable development.’’
“To provide, promote and co-ordinate lifelong education, training and research for Kenya’s sustainable development. To focus on priority areas within overall education goals, notably towards attaining ‘universal primary education’ by 2005, within the context of the wider objective of ‘Education for All (EFA)’ by 2015.
Strategic objectives, programmes and policy priorities
The overall sector objectives are to ensure equitable access, attendance, retention, attainment and achievement in education, science, research and technology by ensuring affordability of services. The MoEST seeks to mobilize resources for sustainable and efficient delivery of relevant educational research, technological and other educational services. The Ministry will ensure co-ordination of the provision of education and training for efficient delivery of services between government, donors, NGOs and communities. It will promote and popularize a Science and Technology Culture.
Sandra Thaxter, who has been working with some of the grassroots programs in Kenya, recently joined with others in the OLPC Kenya volunteer community, for a meeting with the the Kenyan Institute for Education on their digital learning initiatives.
Assistant Minister of Education Calist Mwatela set up a meeting between these groups, and they are planning a series of Skype meetings over the next few weeks. Sandra wrote more about this and her dream of an OLPC Kenya Alliance
From the objectives of the Ministry we take note, that it is the policy of the ministry of Education in Kenya to embrace use of IT and to work with NGOs and other interested partners like OLPC Kenya in achieving education for all in Kenya. Therefore by contacting and connecting with the minister Sandra did make OLPC work in Kenya Officially recognized.. We are all excited. Sandra was then introduced to the Kenya institute of Education (KIE) The Kenya Institute of Education is in the front line of promoting Quality education in Kenya through production of Quality curriculum and curriculum support material. Kenya Institute of Education is the premier body that defines the education system, curriculum development for primary, secondary and tertiary education. It will be a great mistake if I finish this article before mentioning some of the sites in Kenya where OLPC has succeeded.
The first is Asilong is a small village about 10 km beyond Kacheliba in the arid region of West Pokot. 100 XO laptops were deployed there in July of 2009 and are charged using solar power as there is no electricity in the village yet. For the first year of usage, the students had no school server, so they spent their time learning the XO hardware and the pre-loaded activities. In November 2010 the XOs were updated to the latest operating system and an XS server was installed. The students are now using a public library on the server to access current information and educational material that is loaded by the school’s headmaster, Joachim Krop, and IT manager, Julius Sawe. Through the library they also have access to audio files in their native language of Pokoot, as well as educational animations.
Hon. Andrew Calist Mwatela, MP Ass, Minister for Education in Kenya.
Another group is in Kibwezi. Kibwezi is a small rural town located in the arid region of Kenya, about half-way between the capital of Nairobi and the coastal city of Mombassa. Many of the students come from the surrounding farms. Their families survive on subsistence agriculture and many do not have electricity or running water in their homes. The access to xo laptop computers stirs emotions of pure joy inside of the children. Last year some teachers took the computers home and took home videos of their families and church choirs and with the record program.
Another OLPC site in Kenya is Ntugi Day Secondary School. It is located 25 km from Meru which is west of Mt. Kenya. It serves approximately 250 students and has been using OLPC XO’s since March, 2009. You can read about them on ntugigroup.org
In Western Kenya, Fred Juma has set up a site called hands of Charity near Bungoma town. Fred has about five schools with over 70 pupils using xo lap technology not only for classroom activities but also to sensitize the local community on HIV and AIDS.
The most recent OLPC site in western Kenya is Eshibinga Primary school. The site is run by Mr. Peter Amunga and Madam Gertrude Sakwa. The main sponsor and initiator of this site is Jane Gakinya. Eshibinga Xos are breathing a new life into OLPC Kenya. The pupils and their teachers are using xo laptops to link up with schools in the USA through a project known as e-pals. Apart from that they are using xo to generate revenue. They intend to use xos to take pictures and print them and sell to the villagers. The Eshibinga vilage has many funtions ranging from Funerals, weddings, market days etc. During such days the xo students will take photos and sell them to the villagers. They also hope to set up a communications shop where they will help villagers send emails o thier loved ones who live in cities and abroad, type for them letters, print and photocopy.
Xos are no longer just for the select few in Kenya. They are affecting lives of Kenyan children in a way never seen before.