OLPCorps BostonUniversity Kenya
- Patrick Capello - Boston College '09 - Communications
- Anurag Goel - Boston University '12 - Engineering
- David Han - Boston University '12 - Political Science
Here is a draft of our 750 word proposal:
The Kibera slum is located in Nairobi, Kenya, and is the largest slum in Africa. Each day children die of malaria, dysentery, and AIDS. It is not uncommon to see multiple students die throughout the course of the school year. This is Kibera, one square mile for one million people, where children are isolated in a world of poverty.
Spurgeon’s Academy is situated in the Kibera slum and was founded by Fred Outa with the purpose of providing orphan children in Kibera an opportunity to become successful members of society. The school provides children a safe, nurturing environment where adults passionately care for the children. The students at Spurgeon’s are bright and motivated, and often come to school on weekends and vacation (August) to learn, but also to have a meal. Spurgeon’s Academy currently has about 420 students and about a 100 of the students are in our target age group (6-12). The students are taught in English.
Our team believes that an education is key for a child’s social mobility, and empowers children to shape their own lives. Hence, our goal in distributing the XO laptops is to provide as many opportunities for learning as possible. First, 100 laptops can inspire a passion for learning amongst the children of Kibera. With a laptop and an Internet connection, children can play games testing their analytic prowess, write letters to friends across town, and publish their ideas and projects for the world to see.
While inspiring children to learn is the first step, we must create tangible opportunities for achievement readily available in order to turn our project from a good memory to a stable foundation for the children of Kibera. In Kenya, there are a series of national exams to determine whether a child can proceed forward to the next level of schooling, namely high school. Since each child is given only one notebook and pencil, and the school lacks even a blackboard, utilizing the laptops as a study resource is the best opportunity for a child to attend high school. We will work with teachers to develop curricula that best integrates the laptops, including one to prepare the older children (11-12) for the national exams.
Moreover, we will create a website that first, documents every step of the implementation of our project (in order maintain maximum transparency), and secondly, showcases the achievement of the children, be it projects, ideas, stories, pictures, etc.
We believe that teaching is best left to the teachers, therefore the primary objectives of our ten-week stay in Kibera is to first, familiarize the students with computers and the software on the XOs, and second, to work closely with the teachers to develop curricula that integrate the laptops in the students’ learning experience.
The Spurgeon Academy now has electricity. However, this power is not reliable. Our team will use solar panels to charge the laptops.
Establishing infrastructure for Internet is our biggest concern. We are raising the funds to start up and cover one year of Internet service.
We believe simple solutions are usually the best, and always the most sustainable. Hence, our proposal aims to best integrate laptops into an already sustainable and successful teaching program. There are several approaches we wish to take to ensure the laptops have a long lasting impact on the children and the community.
First, over the ten weeks, we will continually meet with the teachers at the school in order to develop ways to incorporate the computers into their lesson plans and curricula. This curriculum can be repeated and improved year after year.
Second, since the school is also open to adults, we will be holding workshops teaching basic computer skills and repairs specific to the XO laptops. We hope to establish a cadre of active teachers and adults in the community to help maintain the program. Moreover, our local partner, the Fred Outa Foundation, has promised to provide personnel and the best teachers to continue the project after our stay.
Our team is currently in the process of applying for grants. The additional funding will help sustain the program for following years. The funds will be used to purchase additional XOs as well as to provide basic supplies, such as writing utensils and paper.
Our team comes from three different academic backgrounds, and between the three of us, we have the technical skills and the means to successfully impress our goals to Kibera.
To learn more about our NGO, you can read the letter of support from the Fred Outa Foundation below:
BACKGROUND INFORMATION: Spurgeon’s Academy is located in Kibera Slum in Nairobi, Kenya, Africa. Kibera Slum is the largest slum in Africa. It is one square mile and home to one million people. Half of the residents are under the age of fifteen. One hundred thousand of these young people are orphans. Eighty percent of the adults are unable to find work. There is no electricity, water or sewage system. The dwellings are 9 feet by 9 feet and are home to two to twelve people. The three causes of death are malaria, dysentery and aids. The primary language spoken in the slum is Swahili. The word Kibera means “jungle”. There are 199 slums in Nairobi and one half of Nairobi’s population lives in a slum. Unemployment in Nairobi itself is fifty percent.
EDUCATION: Supposedly, education in Kenya is free but in actuality this is not so. The government does not provide schools in or near the slum. If the children wanted to go to a local school, they would have to buy their own desks, school supplies, uniforms, lunch and pay special education fees.
INFORMATION ON THE STUDENTS WHO ATTEND SPURGEON’S ACADEMY: Spurgeon’s Academy was founded by Mr. Fred Outa who at one time was an orphan and a street boy. Mr. Outa founded the school because he wanted orphan children to have an opportunity to get off the streets, be in a safe environment, have food to eat, experience having a community of adults who care for and love them and get an education so that they could have a future full of hope and possibilities. The purpose of the school is to help some of the orphan children of Kibera to develop their full potential and talents so that they can be functioning adults who can be future leaders and role models in Kenyan society. Most of the students are total orphans or partial orphans. Very often they do not have food on the weekends and come to school very hungry and on their own. At Spurgeon’s they receive one meal a day which for many of them is the only food they have each day. Mr. Outa helps to provide uniforms for the students so that they can attend school with pride and dignity. During the school year several students will die because of aids, dysentery or malaria. This is a common experience for schools in the slum.
SPURGEON’S ACADEMY: When Mr. Outa was in the United States attending college, he was haunted by his experience living as a street boy and an orphan. He decided in his heart to spend his life helping other children who found themselves living as orphans. In the late 1990’s/2000 Fred began to invite fellow college students and friends he met in the United States to go to Kenya and help him build a school in Kibera Slum. The school began to be built one small building at a time. The first students were 2 ½ year olds who knew only Swahili. Fred began by teaching the children English so that they could begin their formal education by age five. All schools teach subject matter only in English. If children are going to pass state entrance exams and move from one grade to the next, they must be able to speak, read and write in English. Within a few years, Mr. Outa and his friends built enough buildings to educate children age’s 2 ½ years through 8th grade. Mr. Outa now has 420 students at his school, Spurgeon’s Academy. The school now has electricity but no running water. There is a well and a tank for fresh water for cooking and washing up for lunch. The well water is used by the students to clean the classrooms each day after school and to water the tress and greenery.
EDUCATION AT SPURGEON’S: The school is on a trimester calendar. At the beginning of each trimester, every student is given one pencil and one booklet to write their lessons. The pencil and booklet must last the whole trimester. The teachers/students do not have textbooks or maps or other educational posters to put on the walls. The teacher has only one blackboard about three feet by three feet, some chalk and a rag to clean the board. The teacher writes the lesson on the board and the children copy the lesson in their booklets. There are no computers so the students do not have the opportunity to attend computer classes. Most lessons are taught by rote. The teacher’s goal is to give the students a basic education so that they can pass the national tests to move to the next grade level and eventually go to high school. The boy students have a much greater opportunity to go to high school because if they do well, they can usually find a sponsor to put them through high school. The girl student is not so fortunate. Even if a girl student does well she very often has to quit school and spend her days to find food for younger siblings or try to find work. In the fall of 2008, Mr. Outa was able to buy land near Kisumu, Kenya for the purpose of building a girl’s high school. The idea is to move the girls out of the slum to a safe environment where they can receive an education and learn life skills and a profession so that they have a promising future. On weekends and during school breaks, the school is still open to the students so that they have a place to go to that is safe and provides them a meal. Many times students from other countries come to provide games and activities for the children who attend Spurgeon’s. Women of Kibera come to the school to make baskets and crafts to sell at the street markets.
WHY ONE LOPTOP PER CHILD FOR OUR SCHOOL: Many schools around the world have laptops. Spurgeon’s does not have this new technology. The students at our school are so bright and smart but need exposure to technology so that they can compete in the modern world and experience the same opportunity as other students their age. They could make maps to put on their walls so that they could see what the world looks like, see the continents, where other countries are located, visualize the oceans and countries of the world. They could even see Kenya on a map and where Kenya is compared to the rest of the world. The students hear about the animals of their country but can you believe many of them have never seen pictures of their own country or some of the animals. The whole world to these students is Kibera. Many of the students have never left Kibera to see Nairobi the city in which they live. The laptops would open the world to these children. They could see pictures of famous people, musicians, artists world leaders and see in color the shapes and colors of all the peoples of the world. With printers and paper they could make math papers, spelling sheets, science information sheets and little books of stories as they do not have textbooks or workbooks for practice. The only reading material they have is what the teacher writes on the board. Spurgeon’s does not have a library because it does not have books. It would be amazing to contact other students around the world and write diaries sharing what life is like on a day to day basis.
AGENTS OF CHANGE: Because the school is open on weekends and during vacation, adults could be invited to experience new technology and to find ways to contact the outside world to get ideas on how to create jobs for the adults who live in Kibera. The children could set up programs inviting schools in English speaking countries to send books so that a library could be set up. The library could be used not only by the students but could have hours for the adults to come read and learn. The women of Kibera could try to find markets to buy their baskets and crafts so that they could set up little businesses to make money. The students could learn how to write for grants so that they could help raise money to build the high school for the girls. Students could contact Engineering companies and invite them to come to Kibera to build a sewage system, teach the students how to put in panels so the school and slum could run on solar energy. Most important of all, the students could learn how to contact organizations to bring in doctors to give physicals to the poor, eye exams, hearing tests and provide much needed medicines for malaria. So many die of malaria and it is so easy to treat if the medicines were available.
If you would chose to bring the computers to Kibera and begin some programs, there are several extraordinary teachers who would work with you and continue the programs started. Mr. Fred Outa would be sure that personnel would be available to work with you and continue the activities that would benefit the school and the community at large.
It would be my hope David and Anurag, that you could work both with Spurgeon’s School and Taita International School this summer. Each would be such a unique and totally different experience. One school is in the rural area where it is quiet and scenic. The air is fresh and there is land to grow food. The other school is in one of the largest slums in the world where the air is filled with the smells of garbage, waste and smoke. The population is dense the needs great and the resources few.
Please let us know if you need any more information. We will try to answer your questions to the best of our ability.
Susan Vaickauski President, Fred Outa Foundation
For more information on Spurgeon’s School, look up the Fred Outa Foundation on Google