Posts tagged as: learning

Nigeria: NITDA Laments Nigeria’s N720 Billion Yearly Loss to IT Importation

By Adeyemi Adepetun

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) is seeking concerted efforts that will help the country reduce or stop the $2 billion (about N720 billion) yearly losses to Information Technology (IT) importations.

The Director-General of NITDA, Dr. Isa Pantami, who disclosed this yesterday in Dubai, United Arab Emirate (UAE) at the ongoing Gulf Information Technology Exhibition (GITEX), said the country must stop being a consuming nation but a producing one, stressing that this would prevent dumping of various foreign technologies on the country.

This is even as the Nigerian lawmakers, participating at the regional event, disclosed their readiness to ensure that the startups, which are being presented for global pitch at in Dubai, have access reasonable years of tax holiday.

About 10 Nigerian tech startups are participating at this year’s GITEX, which is the 37th edition. The startups include Coudiora, Nicademia, Beat Drone, Accounteer, Dropque, MTK e-Learning Portal, My Padi, Ward Monitor, Tattara and Six Internet of Things (IoT).

They are to compete with other tech startups from across the world to be able to win a $30,000 (about N10.8 million) investment towards developing their solution in a more commercially viable way.

This year’s GITEX, a five-day regional conference, opened on Sunday as the premier technology event in the Middle East, Asia and Africa , hosting 185, 000 visitors from more than 140 countries.

According to NITDA DG, there is a need for Nigeria to promote local technology solutions developed Nigerians with specific reference to the 10 startups in order to truly catapult Nigerian into becoming one of the countries to be reckoned with in on the global ICT map.

Pantami said NITDA has realised that “developing our ICT ecosystem but for the indigenous IT companies and for startup by offering them an enabling environment in terms of policy and laws to operate is one of the ways Nigeria can adopt to curb annual $2 billion (N720 billion) to capital flight.”

Explaining the seven areas NITDA is focusing on at this year’s IT exhibition towards developing the country’s ICT ecosystem, Pantami said the agency has come with seven agenda designed to develop Nigeria’s IT industry and curb the huge annual capital flight.

“These include promoting IT regulations in Nigeria, IT development and promotions, striking partnership on how to better secure Nigerian cyberspace, capacity building, promotion of e-government in Nigeria, showcasing indigenous tech innovations as well as looking for investors, who will assist in supporting local development of Nigeria’s IT industry,” he said.

He also added that NITDA is working with Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to ensure that the yearly estimated N37.8 billion wasted on frivolous ICT projects, especially when they abandon local IT companies and go abroad or their IT procurements, is curbed through enforcing NITDA Act that says all MDAs must get clearance from the agency for any IT project they want to embark upon to ensure those projects are implementable.

Meanwhile, Chairman, Senate Committee on ICT and Cybersecurity, Abdul Fatai Buhari, and his counterparts in Nigeria’s House of Representatives, Onawo Muhammed Ogoshi, who joined the NITDA management to undertake a tour of the solutions being showcased by the 10 startups, said they were impressed by the solutions Nigeria is showcasing this year.

“This is how Microsoft, Google, Facebook and several others of such IT companies started and as lawmakers, our mandate is to always enact laws that would support local innovations,” Senator Buhari said.

Pantami said NITDA is focusing on mobilising global attention on the investment potential of Nigeria’s IT sector and promotion of local tech-entrepreneurs at this year’s GITEX 2017 at an African Investment Forum for all participants at the going GITEX on tomorrow.

Kalipande to Represent At Commonwealth ICT Forum

By Jeromy Kadewere

Melvin Kalipande has emerged as this year’s overall winner in the Information Communication Technology of Malawi (ICTAM) Innovation Forum awards after his Iris application was selected the best.

His application was named the best in the business process category before he was selected the overall winner during the two-day innovation forum at Sunbird Nkopola Lodge on Saturday.

For emerging the winner, Kalipande will next year represent Malawi at Commonwealth ICT forum in Rwanda early next year.

“I am humbled to have won. I want to make a difference in this country,” he said.

Kalipande turning to his Iris application said:”The application was created to aid in the learning process. We introduced an interactive learning experience bundled with fully animated three dimensional organs to show the processes that happen in the human body, this has led to increased engagement and interest from students.”

One of the judges Patricia Khomani asked the winner to fine tune his innovation to compete strongly at next year’s ICT Commonwealth Forum.

Kalipande also won another award in Education and Training category through e-class innovation.

In other awards Peza application was voted the best in entrepreneurship category. Peza was created by Dumisani Kaliyati and Alfred Andrew Kankuzi.

In financial category, Sunga App, by Kankuzi was also named the best while MacDonald Chisale was selected the winner in agriculture category through Organic Food Market App.

Helpline Services App by MacBain Mkandawire won the vulnerable groups category while One for All by Steven Thokozire Chapola won the government category.

Emmanuel Mhango’s innovation of Wamas was chosen the best in water and sanitation category.

ICTAM President Wisely Phiri commended the winners and asked them to continue improving their innovations.

Malawi

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Africa: Technology Can Help Kids Learn, but Only If Parents and Teachers Are Involved

Photo: The New Times

A pupil of Kimisagara Primary School uses a laptop during class. The new app will help parents keep track of their children while at school.

analysisBy Yashwant Ramma, Mauritius Institute of Education

Educational psychologist Dr Benjamin Bloom wanted to understand how people learn. So in 1965 he and his colleagues created Bloom’s taxonomy: a system for identifying, understanding and addressing learning. They came up with a system that’s composed of two elements: thinking and the ability to apply knowledge, and then feelings and emotions.

When a student learns about gravity, the cognitive elements would include knowledge and understanding of the concept of a force pulling an object towards the Earth; acceleration, mass and so on. The moment the student has developed understanding, she would be in a position to apply (psychomotor) – the acquired knowledge and skills in new situations. For example, she might want to see what would happen if something different was done to the same object – would it experience the same acceleration?

This learning process doesn’t happen in an isolated context. It takes place during interactions with peers and teachers – what the model refers to as the affective domain. That is the elements of learning that affect emotional development. Elements of interest, motivation and values would help the student to appreciate the discussion and value the ideas as well as encourage her to develop social skills appropriate to working in groups. Eventually, development of this domain benefits broader communities and society as a whole.

Some researchers claim that integrating technology into teaching and learning improves students’ grades. Others argue that technology makes little difference to how students perform because traditional approaches to teaching still predominate.

A lot of research in this area has focused on technology as a tool. But what is the value of technology as a medium to encourage interactions between parents, teachers and students – tapping into the affective domain – and ensure that students construct knowledge?

Myself and other academics from the Mauritius Institute of Education and London’s Brunel University wanted to know how technology could be used to transform the teaching and learning process into an innovative, interactive environment that promotes students’ cognitive development driven by the affective domain. So we embarked on a study that attempted to build a case for incorporating the affective domain in the teaching and learning of physics using technology.

A space to develop the affective domain

The study was carried out in two phases: exploratory and evaluative. The evaluative phase confirmed the findings made in the exploratory phase.

The exploratory phase involved one teacher, 22 students (all 13 and 14 years old) from a coeducational school situated in Mauritius’ central region and 19 parents.

In the evaluative phase 31 students from an all-girls’ school (in the same region as the first school), 15 parents and one physics teacher participated.

We developed a framework called the Pedagogical Technological Integrated Medium. It is founded on a well-documented framework, TPACK, which was created to facilitate the use of technology in schools. Our framework helps learners to create knowledge and develop an understanding of physics through interactions between teachers, students and parents.

We created an interactive website to monitor how parents, teachers and students were engaging with the framework. The site encompasses a series of home tasks (parent-student and parent-teacher interactions), in-class tasks (student-teachers) and out-of-school activities (parent-student-teacher interactions).

For instance, students used the website to consolidate their existing knowledge of measurement as a concept in physics. They did this in collaboration with their parents before attending classes.

The experiment showed that learners benefited enormously from the approach we had adopted. By creating the affective domain through interactions with their parents (at home) and teachers (at school), the students were able to construct physics knowledge. The added dimension was that we used technology as a medium to meet this end.

Benefits of our approach

The framework was well received by students, parents and teachers. One parent told us:

I was happy that my daughter was discussing with me and I encouraged her to complete all the tasks and to tell me if she had any difficulty.

Students said they wanted to do more activities and be provided with more notes on the website because this would help them “to learn better”. One said,

I would like to try it first before learning it [the concept] at school.

The teachers were also happy. One said that, “the activities contained in the web lesson have helped me to understand in which specific areas students hold misconceptions”. The teacher also hailed the chance to “innovate in my teaching”.

Integrating the affective domain into our model has shown the potential of key educational stakeholders – parents, students and teachers – to collaborate. The teacher established a network with parents and learners and used the insights gained to construct her interactive lessons.

The schools we worked with are planning to use the website to sustain the interaction that’s been developed between teachers, students and parents. We also plan to get more schools in Mauritius using this system.

The affective domain matters

Our study has provided evidence of a change in students’ attitudes: they claimed to be interested, motivated and better prepared to learn new concepts in class.

It’s been known for a long time that educational technology can offer opportunities for cognitive development in learning science. We’ve now proved that this isn’t sufficient unless the affective domain forms an integral part of teaching and learning when technology is integrated into the process.

Disclosure statement

Yashwant Ramma receives funding from Mauritius Research Council.

Ethiopia: Moe and Jica Sign Mathematical Understanding for Science and Technology Project

By Kassahun Chanie

Ministry of Education (MoE) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) jointly signed the five-year Mathematical Understanding for Science and Technology (MUST) project agreement to improve mathematics education in Ethiopia.

The agreement was signed by Berhanu Moreda, Acting Education State Minister and Ken Yamada, Chief Representative, JICA Ethiopia Office here yesterday.

The purpose of the Record of Discussions (R/D) is to establish a mutual agreement between the two parties to implement the project for MUST. This project will focus on establishing model schools that will serve two purposes; to be a Centre of Excellence in each region as well as a model for low-performing schools, raise the level of student’s knowledge by improving teaching practices and adding remedial classes.

Through the MUST project, JICA experts and Ethiopian educators will work together to develop lesson support materials for students to enhance conceptual understanding and develop mathematical skills. After the trial period, the plan is to disseminate the support materials nation-wide.

The total number of model schools will range from 22 to 33 schools and will benefit students and teachers of grades one to eight. At this stage, the project will only focus on mathematics. However, JICA will consider advising science teachers. JICA finalized its three years “Capacity Development for Improving Learning Achievement in Mathematics and Science” (LAMS) project which was worked on building the capacity of science teachers for grade seven and eight.

Lesson support materials for students and teachers will first be drafted by Japanese experts and will then be re-drafted to fit into the Ethiopian context by Ethiopian educators. The MUST project has a five-year timeline with the projected end-date set for 2022.

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East Africa: HP Closer to Improving Learning for 100 Million People By 2025

By Baraka Jefwa

Earlier this year HP committed to enhancing education for more than 100 million people by 2025, the company has so far made great strides towards this goal by announcing the launch of the new HP School Cloud.

HP announced its commitment to enable better learning outcomes for more than 100 million people at the 2017 Global Citizen Festival in Hamburg, Germany. The company at the time committed over $20 million to help achieve this goal.

“HP has a long commitment to improve education. Last year alone we improved learning for over four million students. The HP School Cloud helps us impact even more students,” said Ron Coughlin, President of Personal Systems Business at HP. He added: “By providing access to a wide and relevant range of educational content and resources, HP School Cloud ensures today’s aspiring students develop the skills for the jobs of tomorrow, even those without reliable internet access.”

“By providing access to a wide and relevant range of educational content and resources, HP School Cloud ensures today’s aspiring students develop the skills for the jobs of tomorrow, even those without reliable internet access.”

Ron Coughlin, President – HP Personal Systems Business

The HP School Cloud is a hybrid cloud appliance, meaning it acts as both an advanced wireless router and state-of-the-art file and content server. Each device will leverage a range of free, open source educational material from OpenStax–with more Open Education Resource partners to be announced later this fall. Schools without Internet access can simply install an HP School Cloud, turn it on, and let students dive into millions of e-textbooks and thousands of lessons on reading, science, mathematics, and more.

Secure Environment

Furthermore, HP School Cloud equips teachers with the ability to monitor and measure individual progress of students in a safe, secure environment. All resources will be aligned with international curricular and instructional standards from UNESCO, OECD and others. The HP School Cloud featuring the HP Open Learning Platform will be available for select markets in early 2018.

“This partnership unlocks enormous potential for students all over the world,” said Daniel Williamson, managing director for OpenStax. “By pairing OpenStax textbooks already in use by 1.5 million students with HP School Cloud featuring the HP Open Learning Platform, we’re providing equitable access to high-quality education content for millions more, including the world’s most marginalized.”

HP aims to reach one million learners by 2020 and is partnering with Intel to seed over 1,700 HP School Clouds to schools all over the developing world. The technology will pilot in The Kilgoris Project schools in Kenya and at schools in Malawi, Africa, this fall, contributing to a better learning environment for all students.

Education in Emergencies

HP is also partnering with the Global Business Coalition for Education and Education Cannot Wait, the first global movement and fund dedicated to education in emergencies, to explore where the new technology could be most needed to support students and teachers in other countries affected by conflicts, natural disasters and protracted crises.

In addition to HP School Cloud, the company announced with Microsoft the launch of AppFactory, a program to improve the state of software development and bring quality learning, IT skills development and entrepreneurship training to the people living in the Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Malawi. HP is providing computing technology to ensure refugee youth living in the Malawi camp have the tools to participate in the AppFactory program.

Additionally, the company opened two HP Learning Studios in Jordan in September, in collaboration with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), InZone and CARE. The studios are located in Amman and at the Azraq Refugee Camp – with a third studio to open soon in the town community of Azraq. Each one is equipped with hardware, software, and teacher training services that together inspire instructional innovation and next-generation learning experiences.

nt follows through on a commitment made last year during United Nations General Assembly Week to establish six new HP Learning Studios in Jordan and Lebanon in partnership with Digital Promise Global, Global Business Coalition for Education, Microsoft and Intel. HP is currently working with the UNHCR to select locations and partners for the three HP Learning Studios to be built in Lebanon.

Sossion Opposes Use of Schools as Polling Centres

By Samwel Owino

The Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) wants the electoral commission to de-gazette all schools, especially boarding institutions, used as polling centres so as to avoid disruption of learning ahead of the October 17 repeat presidential election.

The union’s secretary-general, Mr Wilson Sossion, said the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) should start looking for alternatives as education stakeholders will not allow disruption of learning.

“The electoral commission should de-gazette all boarding schools designated as polling centres so that school programmes are not disrupted because of politics,” he said.

EXAMS TIMETABLE

Speaking on the sidelines of the ongoing induction of MPs in Nairobi, Mr Sossion said students should not be victims of politics.

“There are many alternatives that IEBC can use. It is their duty to look for them but, as education stakeholders, we are totally opposed to a change of this year’s exam timetable because of politics,” Mr Sossion, who is also an ODM nominated MP, said.

On Monday, Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i assured the country that the national examinations calendar will not be affected by the fresh election.

PRESIDING OFFICERS

According to the timetables already sent out to schools, Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examination will begin on October 31 and end on November 2 while Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education theory papers will start on November 6 and end on November 29.

More than 23,000 primary schools will be used as polling centres out of the total 40,800.

Mr Sossion said national examinations are a sensitive issue.

“Schools belong to learners and not politicians. Let IEBC re-organise itself and find new polling stations,” he said.

Some teacher training colleges and secondary schools are also used as tallying centres.

A number of teachers will also be recruited as presiding officers and deputies during the election and are expected to be away for two to three days.

Kenya

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Tanzania: Tanzania Staying Ahead in E-Education System

By Hellen Nachilongo

Throughout the world, there’s been a rise in the number of students who opt to study courses online. Online learning has been deemed as the greatest revolution in contemporary education system. This is because the traditional system of education is still full of challenges. Even as the government strive to make strides by establishing free education, there are still loopholes. However, e-learning has made great changes to the education system and opened great opportunities for everyone who wants to learn.

One among such online education platforms in Tanzania is Shule Direct. Ever since its establishment in 2013, Shule Direct, a social enterprise that provides digital study tools for Tanzanian secondary students has benefited about 1.1 million students and teachers through its online platform.

Some of the best teachers in the country are involved to create digitized notes, tutorials, quizzes, podcasts and videos, while developing technological solutions to deliver to students across the country.

Since its establishment students have been able to access different subjects and textbooks through mobile phone.

The move was not to replace formal school education but to support students with special learning needs who need flexibility in learning or students with physical disabilities that restrict their access to school material; this technology meets their learning demands.

Its founder and Chief Executive Officer Ms Faraja Nyalandu explained she never thought her idea of starting an online platform would grow, though she pursued her masters in law through online studies.

Ease access to education

According to the founder of the online platform, the idea of technology was to help students, teachers, expectant mothers and mothers to access educational material wherever they are without any inconvenience.

“As a wife, I got my first and second pregnancy during my masters course, as a result it was not easy to fully attend classes but through online technology, I was able to access and exchange learning materials with fellow students and was also able to write my course work and submit to my lecturers while looking after my two children and performing home duties, “she said.

The need to provide students with another alternative of accessing school materials led to the establishment of the online feature. Through mobile technology several students have been provided with educational information wherever they are. The problem of lack of access to learning material still persists to a larger extent for majority of students in Tanzania. Many students still have to go to the library in search of textbooks, while some cannot access any reading materials at all.

Ms Nyalandu believes that the provision of mobile technology in education has the potential to overcome several barriers experienced in the sector and it also enhances the learning environment. “Mobile learning if well harnessed can contribute to the improvement of the quality of education provided to students,” she says.

Tanzania’s education system is facing its share of challenges, 67 per cent of assigned teachers in public schools are not teaching due to various reasons. There is a current annual demand of 26,000 Science and Mathematics teachers with an output of only 1000 teachers per year.

She says her organisation is working to change this by creating the best content from qualified teachers that can be accessed via an online educational repository. The organisation is giving an opportunity to children in Tanzania to learn and realize their full potential.

So far they have created a cloud-based repository with content organized and mapped to the local curriculum. It can hold varied content from text based notes and quizzes, to engaging podcasts and fully animated videos, in order to cater for every learning need. It has an Application Programmer’s Interface (API) that provides a unified interface to pull appropriate content to different devices and platforms.

The subjects include core mandatory subjects of Biology, Mathematics, History, Geography, English, Civics and Kiswahili and two Science subjects of Physics and Chemistry that even though they are not compulsory, these subjects suffer from a combination of a lack of qualified teachers, qualified resources, and minimal students’ interest.

“Qualified, accessible educational content is every child’s right and not a privilege, we believe a lot of people will join the movement and be a catalyst to ensure that students access education material anytime and anywhere,” she said.

She says through mobile technology students are able to ask teacher and get response on different academic and student support matters by using text message (sms) through an ‘ask Ticha Kidevu’ feature.

“Therefore, for our content map, the teachers have developed learning notes, revision quizzes, bilingual science concepts and mock exams,” she explains. This is the initial level of content that must be developed before it can be digitally developed into other formats such as audio or audiovisual.

Ms Nyalandu said they have built the educational content repository, testing and restructuring the API as content is being built, “our developers develop and design web portals such as the Open Educational Resource and the Learning Management System and mobile applications and services that pull content from the repository via the API,” she notes, adding, “We are building apps for SMS, smartphones, web and even Facebook, so students can access content from our repository on whatever devices they have. These applications will feed student data back, so that the whole system adapts to each student’s needs.”

Learning better

Twiga hosting Limited (THL) co-founder Jacob Urasa, said children with access to safe internet learn better, gain self-confidence and are able to retain what they search for much longer than what they gain through traditional learning. “Though if misused mobile platforms could be harmful, but when used well act as good learning tools.”

According to him, science and technology plays a vital role in today’s lives and several fields such as health, transport, education, business, finance, entrepreneurship, production and manufacturing therefore if students embrace innovation well it gives them room to perform better in class and access learning materials without any inconvenience.

He said his online platform is used as educational and assessment tool for secondary school students.

“Students get Free Online educational assessment tools, which is the same as doing online exams, quizzes or tests. The system is capable of marking and providing results and solutions. One review paper can be released daily for 30 days,” said Urasa. THL was established to enable Tanzania stay ahead of e-education game in Africa and globally, more than ever before.

Martha Nelson, 16, a Form Four student at one of the schools in Kinondoni region said accessing educational materials online has been helpful to her especially during free time because she doesn’t have to go to the library.

“Sometimes one might go to the library but he/she might not find the textbook they want to read, another scenarios include finding the book you want to read at the library, but find a few pages missing from the book,” she said.

Martha explained that using mobile or any other digital technology to access material or is very convenient and has helped her perform better during exams.

Bridging the knowledge and skills gap

Shule Direct is keen to develop a youth capacity building program to bridge the knowledge and skills gap between education and careers. They are currently piloting it and it will be underway in December this year.

Ms Nyalandu said they want to provide on demand market responsive courses for young learners to facilitate their career growth in either employment or entrepreneurship and unleash their potential.

“Our next goal is to create high quality, detailed videos of secondary school subjects with a special focus on science practical experiments for biology, physics and chemistry,” she said.

These videos can be delivered to students via various channels including Shule Direct’s online web platform, pre-installation on educational devices, streaming to web-enabled devices and television broadcast.

In Tanzania for example, many students never get the chance to enter a science laboratory or perform a single science experiment before their national exams, this situation is mirrored in other African nations.

Many students resort to memorizing experimental procedures and results, but having never performed or seen the experiments, they lack fundamental understanding of the science concepts involved and the chance to apply the theoretical knowledge that they have gained in reading and classroom lectures.

With the rise of technology, it is becoming more convenient for students to access different reading materials online. Online platforms help fill in the gaps left by traditional learning tools which are filled with multiple challenges. The government should therefore enhance easy access to technology as an alternative way of helping solve some of the problems experienced in the education sector.

Eritrea: Sutur Dairy Farmers Association Striving to Boost Production

Keren — Mr. Mohammed Saleh Idris, chairman of Sutur dairy farmers association, explained that the association striving to boost production and play its due role in satisfying the local markets. Sutur dairy farmers association comprises 20 farmers.

The dairy farm located at the embankment of Anseba River has 400 dairy cows and each farmer has a plot of land in which they produces green animal fodder.

The administrator of the sub-zone, Mr. Yakob Idris said that the project has the necessary infrastructure put in place including water supply, residential houses and plots of land. He also indicated that the sub-zonal administration and the Ministry of Agriculture are providing the necessary support to the farmers.

Eritrea

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Nigeria: Coding Among Youths, Children Will Trigger Revolution, Say Experts

By Emma Okonji

In furtherance of efforts to ensure Nigeria’s place in the emerging digital economy, experts have called on the government to support initiatives to teach children coding as this can precipitate a silent revolution.

Speaking at the closing ceremonies of ‘A Summer to Code’ training in Alimosho, Lagos State, the Chief Content Officer at De Royale Hall Resources, Mr. Elvis Eromosele, noted that in the emerging digital society, coding would become as basic as reading and writing. He explained that coding, which makes it possible for us to create computer software, apps and websites, will become the new literacy.

According to him: “It is imperative that children be provided access to coding know-how, to ensure that Nigeria and Nigerians are not left behind. “Coding is now a life skill, so children from every strata of society deserve the opportunity to acquire coding skills, to be prepared for the future and to keep abreast with change in the society.”

He explained that there is no limit to what they can achieve, “we only need to provide the platform to set them on the right path. ‘A Summer to Code’ helped to create an enabling environment and platform to help them find expression for their thoughts and imaginations.

“In the course of this summer, we found that coding equally helped to strengthen the children’s logical thinking, improved their problem solving skills and boosted their readiness for the digital future,” he said.

On the experience, Eromosele noted that the six Saturdays of learning to code, was highly enlightening. “The class had 21 participants aged between 4 -18 years. By the end of the third week, the kids were creating basic websites, and understood the concept of mobile apps design, development and deployment. Children began to code with minimal supervision by the end of the third week.”

According to him, it takes about two to three months to learn coding (programming) at a level that the learner can work with, noting that ‘A Summer to Code’ is the just first step in turning on the light for children in Alimosho.”

The co-Cordinator of the coding project, Mr. Godfrey Adejumoh, said there was a need for government to support efforts to bring coding classes to children not just across Alimosho but Nigeria. He urged the government to set up a centre where kids can access computer systems, and acquire at least three hours of lessons a week, plus some measure of follow up and mentoring to keep them in check.

Adejumoh noted that with coding, Nigeria could unleash the creative energies of the young people in Alimosho, and indeed across Nigeria, and help them to discover the beauty of storytelling using coding. Coding is the future. That future must begin now, he said.

Worrying State of Boarding Schools Discussed Online

By Njoki Chege

The Moi Girls School Nairobi fire tragedy that claimed the lives of nine students has conjured up sad memories amongst Kenyans who attended boarding secondary schools.

Those who went through similar schools have been forced to relive the early days of learning that many would rather forget.

Reports that the dormitory in question at Moi Girls was a rather congested and was exclusively set aside for only Form One students with a few prefects around spurred reactions from Kenyans, particularly on social media, who told of their own horrific experiences in high school.

From congested and filthy dormitories to unfriendly administration regimes to blocked sewer systems, Kenyans revived memories of a tough four years in the country’s secondary school education system.

VENTING GROUND

What began as breaking news alerts about the dormitory fire soon spiralled into angry and concerned social media messages that got the country talking about schools and some rethinking the rationale behind boarding school.

The Moi Girls fire also caused Kenyans both online and offline to critically think about the current state of secondary schools in the country and the safety of their children.

Social media became a venting ground for many frustrated users who had suffered in various secondary schools in one way or the other.

From arrogant and indifferent school principals to harassment of students and parents by teachers to negligent school administrators, it was an opportunity for Kenyan parents and former students to tell all.

“You don’t know the arrogance of the head teachers of the big schools,” wrote Zabeth Kemunto. “They belittle parents and harass students and even try to force them to transfer so that they can admit others who pay handsomely… Kenyans, we must stop categorisation of schools.”

GRILLED WINDOWS

Parents also took to social media to complain about the grilled windows in dormitories as well as congestion with many giving examples of secondary schools whose classes and hostels were full to the brim.

One of the social media posts that elicited numerous reactions was from human rights activist and former Starehe MP aspirant Boniface Mwangi who, in a lengthy update, told the story of a parent of one of the victims of the Moi Girls fire.

“The Moi Girls School fire wasn’t the first of its kind. Unfortunately, if we don’t act with urgency, it will not be the last either,” he wrote.

To which many social media users who read the Facebook post responded with a stream of comments and experiences.

Former students of Moi Girls came out in numbers to confirm what many had feared: that the said dormitory was a congested health hazard.

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS

Cecilia Mutemi, an alumni of Moi Girls Nairobi said that in her days, only 100 students slept in the Kabarnet hostel and was shocked to find out that the hostel hosts almost four times the number without additional facilities.

“When my daughter was admitted there, the same dorm without even an additional a bathroom, housed 360 girls,” she said.

From the social media uproar, the issue of disaster preparedness took centre stage with many concluding that Kenyan secondary schools are not adequately prepared for disasters such as fires.

“Our school administrators and even parents seem to have their priorities all wrong,” says Morgan Gitonga, “Why cough millions to buy school buses whereas if they invested in simple solutions like smoke detection alarms, fire hydrants, sprinklers, extinguishers and training of student fire marshals such problems can be been averted.”

LIVING CONDITIONS

It also became clear that many secondary schools do not allow parents to visit their children’s hostels to assess the living conditions of students.

Many of those who complained on Facebook and Twitter are parents who admitted that they had never seen where their children sleep while in school.

According to a Facebook user who goes by the name Waa Njii Ruu, most boarding schools do not allow parents into the boarding areas because “things are a mess.”

She went on to say; “It is evident that few schools have invested in fire and safety disaster management strategies such as fire drills, and even few have fire fighting equipment such as fire extinguishers, smoke detectors and fire blankets.”

“We never knew what fire drills were because it was never demonstrated to us…,” said Carole Lenny on Facebook.

REMINISCE

It was also a time for some to reminisce on previous fatal high school fires such as the Kyanguli Secondary School fire tragedy that killed 63 students in 2001.

Alice Kiluu said; “It’s so sad this takes me back to 2001 the Kyanguli fire tragedy which stole my dear brother from us. I feel for the parents of the girls who didn’t make it out.”

“Kenyan high schools needs to have full time counsellors. Mental health in high school is largely bundled under ‘truancy’,” wrote a Twitter user MediaMK.

On the flipside, it it was not all doom and gloom.

A few had some positive memories about their former secondary schools; “I went to Kenya High School where we had drills at least twice a term.”

“I thank God for that. When I look back, we took it for granted but it now makes sense,” said another Adero Mwango Ocholler on Facebook.

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