E-LEARNING SYSTEMS FOR REMOTE SCHOOLS: SUSTAINING EDUCATION IN PASTORAL AREAS

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E-LEARNING SYSTEMS FOR REMOTE SCHOOLS: SUSTAINING EDUCATION IN PASTORAL AREAS

For the purpose of our readership, below is account of Hifadhi Africa’s just concluded trip to East Pokot District of Baringo County. The trip was to deploy and install e-learning systems in 5 Secondary and 4 Primary Schools in the District courtesy of multi-partnership support from the following the following Clubs and individuals.

  1. Hifadhi Africa Organization.
  2. Rotary Club of Port Orchard
  3. Rotary Club of South Kitsap
  4. Rotary Club of Nakuru-The Great Rift Valley
  5. Rotarian Bob Cairns and wife Chris
  6. Marybeth Foxworth, President of Greysam Industries

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For a long period now, the mentioned parties have been working and coordinating tirelessly to ensure that school going children are equipped with computer tablets and educational content from Rachel-Pi to enable them cope with the immense challenges experienced in the pastoral District like high pupil teacher ratio and low book pupil ratio meaning that most pupils had to share books with four or more other children, making it difficult for them to do homework. The system fronted, RACHEL (Remote Areas Community Hotspots for Education and Learning), enables provision of free online educational content to students in pastoral regions with limited or no internet access. It uses a low cost low power computer system called Raspberry Pi complete with android tablets and solar powered batteries, therefore enabling it to be deployed in schools that have no electricity or internet access which is the case in nearly all of the schools in East Pokot. The educational data stored on the raspberry pi comes from an organization called World Possible, is free and is continually updated. The data consists 6000 articles, 26 million words and 50,000 images making it bigger than Harry Potter, the Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia put together! Up to 35 tablets can be wi-fi’ed with three Raspberry Pi system. The goal is to provide portable e-learning platform and introduce technology to students who otherwise cannot afford it. It’s simple to operate and maintain with an on/off button.

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The team on this special mission included Rotarian Bob Cairns, his wife Chris and Ashley Carter all of whom they jetted into the Country on 23rd Oct. 2014, Charles Mwakio Jovenal Nsengimana, Rotarian GPO Ogombe and Collins Nakedi. On board also were our drivers William and George.

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24th proved to be a busy day as we had envisioned with worthy meetings with Hans Scholl, the chairman of Rotary District Foundation. Following was a meeting with World Vision Associate Director of Water, Sanitation & Hygiene before heading to meeting World Possible Country Director, the organization that is acknowledged across the world for coming up with Rachel. The day ended with a get-together between our esteem visitors and Hifadhi Africa staff. Yusuf and Jackline, our little friends at United States International University were in attendance too.

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By evening, everybody was excited for the following day. Preparation had been done to leave Nairobi before 8. That never happened. Instead, we were making calls to postpone our 11a.m meeting because we couldn’t make it by then to Nakuru. Being good partners as they have always been, Rotary Club of Nakuru-The Great Rift Valley took the request with nothing but a smile. At the meeting, we had date with the wildlife in the afternoon at Lake Nakuru National Park before retiring to Rift Valley Sports Club for the night.

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We were joined in the morning for the Eldama Ravine bound trip by Rotarian GPO Ogombe. Eldama Ravine Girls High School was our first in the list of 9 Schools. Everybody was fired up. Everybody was either ambassador of their representative institutions or themselves, but they were. Donned in colorful wears and eyes in their ears. Charles would later join us in Nakuru Lodge for the entire trip.

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On Monday 26th, our convoy headed to East Pokot District through Kabarak, Mogotio, Marigat, Loruk and eventually Nginyang. Our first stop being Nginyang Girls High School. Here, Ashley had in store Sanitary Pads to see 15 underprivileged girls through one academic year. She was the girls’ champion all through and she was fortified. She was living her dream of meeting and making friends with these girls, empathizing and encouraging them to determinedly seek to change their destinies through education. Which, according to her, is the only weapon available for her mates. We left Nginyang, just like Eldama Ravine equipped with e-learning systems and excited faces who for the first time, shall be using tablets for studies.

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Nginyang Primary School received soccer ball, rubber balls, Frisbees and yo-yo’s while Cheptunoyo, Cheseret, and Nakoko Primary Schools benefited more with pens. The visit to the borehole site that we are planning to drill marked the end for the day. We headed back for check in at Soi Lodge where we would call it home for the next three nights.

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The following day saw our team visiting Yusuf Dad at Chemolingot Trading Centre before heading to Barpello High School. The reception there was fabulous thanks to the Principal and the all-time humble father David. The School is one of the best models in the area. Like Nginyang Girls High School, 15 more girls benefited with a year sanitary pads apart from the E-learning systems.

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Our last day in the District was spent traversing Tangulbei and Churo Divisions. We left Churo and Tangulbei more determined to achieve their visions of being institutions of excellence.

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We then spent the next two days meeting with prominent Rotarians in Nakuru and Nairobi. We also got time to visit and feed Giraffes and watch orphan elephants.

Facts Sheet on Raspberry Pi

  • Enable accessibility of quality educational content among learners
  • The systems are much cheaper and best value for money
  • They are low in power consumption (3.5W per Raspberry Pi)
  • They are small (palm-sized), compact and can be easily be stored away
  • Capable of being used as a server or client
  • All data is stored on the 32 GB SD card which is easily extendable
  • Maintenance is easier as it is less susceptible to malware or viruses

 

/ Education, Health

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Comments (3)

  1. E. Bruce :

    I am working with a group that would like to have a similar set-up at a library in Haiti. Do you have more specific information about the types of tablets used? Do you have any recommendations or tips that you have learned in the process of set-up? For example types of cases for the tablets, best choice of headphones, solar battery types that you recommend, etc. Thank you!

  2. E. Bruce :

    Please note the error in the previous email address. Thanks!

  3. E. Bruce :

    Please disregard the email address from my previous comment and use this one instead. I apologize!