Deep inside Kibera slum is Grace Humanitas Children Centre with jovial children anxiously waiting for learning to begin. As their teacher Corrazon Ong’ayo walks into the Pre-primary 2 classroom, the noise ceases and pupils shout greetings in unison to their teacher.
Their eyes are on the left arm of their teacher holding a four-inch-screen smartphone. Ong’ayo cautiously places the gadget onto a wooden table.
The teacher taps on the phone and calls out Bravin Desmond, her pupil whose photo is the first to be displayed on the smartphone screen after EIDU (Education Individual) app is activated.
The boy walks in hurried steps towards a seat set where he quickly settles and clicks a choice of arithmetic games he wishes to play that morning on the phone. After some seconds of uninterrupted contemplation, he resolves to play with matching numbers and does it with ease.
Torn between focusing on the e-learning game and cameras before him, he makes an error but the app alerts him with a blinking and guides the learner to a correction. Five minutes later, his assignment is complete and the screen displays another face.
Bravin rises to his feet and walks towards one of his classmates whose image has appeared on the phone and beckons her to take over. One learner after another swap places and they independently choose what they desire to learn through play.
The app has been embraced by dozens of schools. According to various school heads who spoke to Saturday Standard, the EIDU app, an early math learning software has changed attitude towards education among pre-primary school pupils.
Schools that use the software since it was introduced three years ago by EIDU, a social business organisation, have recorded higher attendance and demonstrated better prospects in critical thinking and general elementary learning.
Elizabeth Manasa, the head-teacher of Grace Humanitas Children’s Centre, a private school in Kibra, said they dad not registered 30 pupils in either pre-primary 1 or 2 before 2015 when they started to use the app.
“The number kept growing with some learners transferring from other schools. Now we have 38 and 42 pupils in pre-primary 1 and 2 respectively,” she said.
The registers before 2015 also showed frequent absenteeism among pupils on what Manasa said might have been due to lack of interest among learners.
“But when you look at the registers now you will realise there is almost zero absenteeism and in all cases parents communicate a genuine excuse,” she said.
Head teachers of Kingpin Children Centre and Glory Children Centre also lauded the app. “I had 16 kids in pre-primary 1 and the number rose to 30 when word went round that we were using the app,” said Boss Isigi of Kingpin Children Centre.
EIDU country director Max Dohna said they are targeting all schools in the country adding that e-learning is inevitable.
“Kenya embraces technology. Furthermore, parents have a positive approach to education and are willing to get what can work best to improve the education of their children,” said Dr Dohna.
He said there were 96 per cent positive response from teachers in over 100 schools in Nairobi especially slum areas and further revealed plans to include language in the app by next year.
“We started with slums because we want to have a level playing field so that children in such areas also benefit from e-learning,” he said.
He said the app has been improved severally based on feedback from teachers.
One smartphone can serve a class but parents can also install the app on their phones for extra use by learners at home. And as Kibera struggles with challenges synonymous with slums, teachers are advancing in technology.