After spending three months in Kitale during the CCRP project, I was excited to come back to Kitale, a town that lies between the glorious Mt Elgon and the rolling Cherengani Hills. One notable thing about the town is the high number of bodabodas that you always have to dodge while walking in the town. I am not back for three months now but for one year to implement a Digital Communities Initiative project with a local community at Wekhonye. Wekhonye is located approximately 17 kilometres from Kitale town.
It’s a unique project that will be working with the a local secondary and primary schools as well as local women in agriculture and entrepreneurship. We shall be using technology to empower the lives of this community in education, agriculture and entrepreneurship.
Our first interaction with the community was with the primary school which has population of over 1000 pupils. Our arrival at the school created excitement among the pupils since we had interacted with them previously during CCRP project which was a participatory project that involved schools during the research process. In turn, the pupils got to interact with technology by collecting GPS coordinates of different locations in their schools. This information was to later aid in creation of their school maps. When they therefore saw us, they knew that technology is back also due to the fact that their head teacher had mentioned it to them previously.
The head teacher is quick to receive us and he happily introduces us to the deputy head teacher and members of his teaching staff. “We have been waiting for you. In fact, we communicated to our pupils about this project when they reopened school. When they have seen you, they have known that the awaited tablets have finally arrived.” the head teacher states.
We explain to him some of the materials we shall be using to promote digital learning in the school. Before we leave the school, we are also hoping to meet one of the classrooms. The deputy head teacher, who is in charge of academics quickly makes an arrangement and we are headed to class 7. We had interacted with this class before and so they are happy to receive us again. We introduce them to a series of educational games called Blockly games which are meant to introduce programming to students without any background in programming. Having interacted with the gadgets before, they are quick to learn and within the forty minutes we spent in the classroom, the pupils had been able to tackle one game; puzzles by writing commands which aid in solving the puzzles.
This session was one of many, over the next one year, we shall be using educational materials from an array of sources so that we can be able to bring forth the benefits of technology to the pupils and the Wekhonye community.