OLPCorps UniversityofBritishColumbia Kenya
OLPCorps_University of British Columbia_Kenya_Dumont
Myriam Dumont - Team leader, pedagogical specialist
David Butler - Music teacher, technology specialist
We are two graduate university students in the department of Education at the University of British Columbia located in Canada. With the guidance and support of several local Kenyan NGOs, we will deploy 100 XO laptops to Mbita Primary School in Mbita, Kenya – a rural community along the shores of Lake Victoria. The school is very close to the Suba Youth Resource Centre which can also be used as a meeting place for when schools are closed in August.
Primary school finishing rates are sometimes not above 50% in Kenya. Most rural areas have limited access to digital technologies. This community has a small computer lab of older generation stand-alone machines with limited software. A program currently exists to train teachers and women digital literacy skills, but there are no such opportunities for learners in primary or secondary schools.
Working with Children
We see music education as an approach to reinforcing some of the course content in several areas – such as language arts, spelling, arithmetic and writing skills. Using the activities such as Write, TamTam Jam, TamTam Edit, Record and Paint, we would like to use the XO to promote and support education in this rural community. We are making ourselves familiar with the Kenyan primary school curricula in order to better integrate its use naturally into the classroom.
The children will create content, such as podcasts, texts, images and videos, which they can share with their community - and the world. Our partners in Kenya will be able to help us share the children's content with the world by uploading it via the Internet to a global audience.
The primary school curricula of Kenya are divided into thematic topics that are covered throughout the eight years of primary school. Some of these topics include the environment, health education, and global citizenship.
The children will be encouraged to create messages to their community about the issues that touch them in their lives: health issues, the environment, ecology, a better future....
For the school break in Kenya during the month of August, the school is very close to the Suba Youth Resource Centre which can be used to facilitate music and computer day camps for the children of the area.
The main partnering NGO will be Rural Schools, Computers and Educational Materials program (RUSCEMP-K). Mr. Dan Njiriri and Dan Otedo will be the contact persons for this project. Also implicated in this initiative are NGOs Suba Teachers Guidance And Counseling Association (SUTGUCA), The African Center for Women, Informations and Communications Technology(ACWICT), and Teachers Without Borders Canada who are deploying a team there for teacher professional development in early August of 2009.
Our partners are already working in the community and have pledged to expand the program in the future.
Impact on Children
Typically, primary school learners have a passive and quiet role in the Kenyan school classroom. This does not always promote the most effective learning. Collaboration and communication between students as they use the XOs to construct and create content will be emphasized as an approach to learning. Students will be encouraged to learn from each other through talking and collaboration while they use the XOs.
It is hoped that students will feel empowered as they share their music and other created content with the local and global community. To that end, we would like to ensure that there would be a music festival where the community would come and observe the accomplishments of the students.
We would also like to emphasize the theme of global citizenship with the students by introducing them to some digital content created by our own students and thus create a relationship between learners.
The languages in Kenya are Swahili and English. As teachers, we have worked with many children whose first languages are not English and both of us have taught abroad in a variety of countries including Korea, Thailand and Burma.
We are hoping to facilitate literacy by providing additional ebooks in Swahili and English to use to encourage reading and listening by the students.
Because of our focus on music education, we would like to use the various features of the XO to create and record music both in the local language(s) and in English.
Financial Support once we leave
We strongly believe that it is important to continue working with the community once we are gone. Myriam’s grade 5 students are currently involved in fundraising to send a child in Kenya to school. We will ensure that once we have returned from Kenya we are not solely the ones responsible for providing support but to have the communities we live in and work in collaborate on ways in which we can provide continued financial support.