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Computers revolutionizing learning in rural primary schools

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In a world that is becoming increasingly digital, it is hard to imagine an education without technology. Yet, that is what most students face in rural Kenya. In schools that normally don’t have power, running water, libraries, or a host of other essentials often associated with a school, children grow up in a world that is passing them by. This puts them at a significant disadvantage pursuing employment, and impacts the paths available to them in the future.

Technology programs are not a common sight in rural schools in Kenya. Kabolebo Primary School in Tinderet Constituency, Nandi county delights in having access to computers since 2014. The school located in a small remote village in Tinderet received a donation of 8 computers from the Water Services Trust Fund through the help of one of the school’s alumni Remmy Butia, who is the Personal Assistant of Nandi Deputy Governor Dominic Biwott. Butia, also helped the school acquire an internet router from Airtel Networks Kenya Ltd. Airtel provides a free 8GB monthly subscription to the school.

The school has adjusted the schedule of their school day to incorporate computer classes as a part of the normal academic program. The emphasis is on getting children familiar with the technology. The primary focus is teaching children to operate a computer. Children will have an easy time leading their communities, Kenya, or the world if they know what a computer can do and how to operate one.

“We only used to hear about this things, but now we are using them,” a standard 7 girl said when asked what she knew about computers. For a remote school, the opportunity to have an education in technology had seemed impossible.

Teachers in the school are also learning about technology. Just as the students have not used a computer before, this is also true of many of the teachers. They come into the lab and a computer teacher works with them. Once they learn the basics, they then have the ability to do such things as open an email account and research subjects on the internet.

The computers have increased access to a plethora of education materials. Very, very few educational materials exist in the school – no libraries, no teacher resource books, and many times not enough textbooks for the children. The computers are loaded with a large collection of educational resources such as a condensed version of Wikipedia. Teachers from the school go to the lab to read up on the topics they need to present in class. It is extremely valuable to the schools.

The school now hopes that embracing technology will not only improve student achievement, but also give a boost to the small rural community as a whole.

The digital divide has long been a discussion in Kenya’s education. Students in rural areas are less likely to have exposure to technology and Internet access. In Tindiret Sub County, less than 20 percent of the residents have access to high-speed Internet. Limiting rural students’ access to learning computers only hurts their chances to compete with students in other parts of the country. Whether Kabolebo Primary School will achieve the results it hopes remains to be seen, but the school serves as a good example of being thoughtful about the deployment of education technology in schools.

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