|Home||Who we are||What we do||Where we work||News, events & media||Contact us|
Busia Community Library in the busy border town of Busia in Western Kenya will provide tablet computers loaded with educational games and other educational content so that children from underperforming schools can play and study at the same time.
This innovative service, titled Children for Children, aims to help primary school children in Busia District improve their marks so that they will pass their exams and have a better chance in life. It is one of three new services to receive an EIFL Public Library Innovation Programme grant in Kenya.
‘The Kenyan school system puts pressure on children – especially those aged 13 to 15 – to perform well in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams. The results of these exams determine whether the children are admitted to secondary school,’ said Ms Maria Wafula, head of Busia Community Library.
‘The test has enormous influence over the children’s future education. Results of the KCPE exams are featured on the front pages of national newspapers, underlining their importance. Monthly Continuing Assessment Tests identify children at risk of performing poorly, and some schools in Busia consistently underperform. We aim to help children in these schools,’ said Ms Wafula.
Busia Community Library will purchase five tablet computers and install wireless Internet in the library. Educational content focused on subjects in the Kenyan primary school curriculum, including maths, English language and public health knowledge, and educational games will be loaded onto the tablets. Under the guidance of librarians, the children will be encouraged to study, play educational games and to surf the Internet.
‘We expect that the children will engage with the educational materials and find additional material on their own. We expect their information and communication technology skills to increase. We also believe that children not taking part in the programme will benefit from peer-to-peer learning,’ said Ms Wafula.
Background to Children for Children
Serving a community need
Each year, over 750,000 primary school children take the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams. The exams determine whether you enter secondary school, and so there is extreme pressure on the children to pass. In 2011, over a quarter of the children who took the exams were denied access to secondary schools. After the exams, news agencies reported high numbers of child suicides. In the run up to the exams, monthly Continuing Assessment Tests (CATs) identify children at risk of performing poorly. Busia Community Library has identified some five schools in Busia which consistently have high numbers of underperforming children.
The new service
Busia Community Library is already popular with children, who hurry to the library after school. The library will create a special attractive learning space for children and purchase five tablet computers with 3G Internet and wireless capacity. They will engage education professionals in Busia to pre-load the tablets with educational materials in subjects that are central to the school curriculum, including maths, English language and public health. They will also identify and pre-load educational games onto the tablets.
Guided by librarians, children will be encouraged to study, play games and surf the Internet. The new service hopes to improve children’s marks at school, their potential to pass the KCPE exams, their confidence, and ICT skills. The library will also test the effectiveness of using low-cost, low-power tablet computers.
Maria’s Libraries, a non-governmental organization committed to promoting development of a library network in Kenya, is the main partner for the service. Maria’s Libraries will source and provide technology support, and train librarians to use the tablet computers and to pass on their skills to the children. Maria’s Libraries will also identify education professionals, who will recommend content for uploading to the tablets, and monitor and evaluate implementation of the service over the next 12 months.
The service was inspired by the Hole in the Wall, an educational service in India. The service began as a tiny project in which a technology institute cut a hole in a wall adjacent to a slum, and installed a computer in the hole. Children soon began congregating at the computer and quickly taught themselves to use it. Subsequent evaluations of technology and child learning have shown that when children have access to technology in spaces where there is less pressure to perform well they obtain improved marks in school subjects like maths, science and English language. Children also teach each other how to use the technology. Busia Community Library’s will create an attractive space where children can have fun while they learn.