Digital literacy program bearing fruits in Kakamega's rural schools

Muhomo Primary School English teacher Salome Burudi using digital learning devices to teach grade three pupils at their institution at Matete in Lugari on June 17, 2023. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

For many years, Muhomo Primary School in Lugari Constituency, Kakamega County has posted dismal results in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination.

It had never achieved a mean score mark of 200 out of 500 until last year when it broke the jinx after posting an impressive 273 mean score.

Located in remote parts of the county, the school performed beyond expectations given its poor infrastructure, thanks to the joint school digital literacy program courtesy of the government in partnership with World Vision.

Earlier, Muhomo managed to register 180 and 185 mean scores in 2020 and 2021 respectively.

The digital literacy initiative is being implemented by the Ministry of Information Communication Technology (ICT) at the school.

So far, World Vision and the government of Kenya (GoK) have donated at least 79 digital learning gadgets to the school in the last five years.

World Vision donated 45 gadgets and the government provided another 34 on top of teachers who underwent rigorous training under the auspices of the World Vision workshop.

Pupils are able to access learning materials on time and carry out their assignments through gadgets when connected to the internet.  “Lucky enough, we have electricity in the school,” said the school head teacher, David Masai.

According to Masai, literacy learning targets learners in grades Four and Five who learn Languages and Mathematics with the help of gadgets.

“Pupils are equipped with proper learning skills at an early age before they progress to upper classes,” said Masai.

He attributes improving good performance to digital learning devices.  “Initially, our performance was poor because our school has had myriad challenges like other rural schools, however, the introduction of the digital learning devices has helped us realize commendable improvement from a mean score of 185 in 2021 to 273 in 2022," said Masai.

Pupils access learning materials promptly and are able to read and understand with the help of the teachers.

"They learn pronunciation, and communication skills online and they have become good performers in both languages and mathematics,” said Masai.

Enrolment too has improved with parents getting to appreciate the power of digital learning devices according to the head teacher.

"We have enrolled 529 pupils in our school through mobilization of online gadgets unlike before where we had a population of 200 pupils, more parents are yawning to have their children enrolled at Muhomo,” says Masai.

Teachers expect the learners to perform much better in the future despite the steady rise in pupil population against overstretched learning facilities in the school.

“We are appealing to the government to intervene in terms of infrastructural development so that we can accommodate as many learners as possible,” said Masai.

Currently, the school has 16 teachers employed by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC).  Three among them are championing the digital literacy learning program.

But at least three pupils are forced to share one gadget because the learning devices are not adequate and “we are hoping for more assistance and donations of the digital gadgets,” said Masai.

Muhomo Primary School English teacher Salome Burudi using digital learning devices to teach grade three pupils at their institution at Matete in Lugari on June 17, 2023. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

The World Vision country representative Gilbert Kamanga argues that digital technologies provide opportunities for children to enjoy numerous rights including the right to education which is fundamental to the improved well-being of children.

Mr Kamanga said World Vision has continued to support children in rural Kenya and marginalized communities to access quality education and learning material under the digital literacy program.

"In Western Kenya, we work in partnership with the government to provide computer laptops and tablets to schools, we have rolled a similar initiative across 37 counties," said Kamanga.

He said the child-friendly computers contain specialized software provided by World Vision known as the Learning Tool Kit (ABRA Software) which has helped to boost the literacy levels of children in school.

World Vision is working with the government and other partners in advocating for effective policies and legal frameworks that will ensure that children’s rights are upheld at all times, even when they are online according to Kamanga.

"We have sensitized the community on the safety of the digital gadgets in order to protect what help their children in terms of education, we have put some measures to ensure our children are not exploited while accessing materials online," he said.

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