Schools Reopening: Slum Resident Innovates System That Can Solve Stalemate

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    Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha assesses Grade 3 learning at Joy Town Special School in Thika in September 2019
  • A Kibera slum resident has innovated a system that can solve a headache facing Education CS George Magoha ahead of the reopening of schools

    Yusuf Ganyana, a 35-year-old librarian at the Kenya National Library Services-Kibera satellite branch, came up with a system dubbed Laibu Mkononi (Library in your hands) which can ensure learners access education materials even in areas where electricity and internet connectivity is an issue.

    A survey conducted on August 5, indicated that students were avoiding online content developed by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) and were preferring content from other platforms including ViuSasa Ellimu, Longhorn Publishers and Shupavu 291.

    Another predicament facing the Ministry of Education is ensuring all students access e-learning material. This has become a challenge as some students in rural and underdeveloped areas lamented that they do not have electricity and internet connection.

    Kenyan youth using a phone

    The University of Nairobi (UoN) graduate recycles old gadgets, from smartphones, printers or internet routers and converts them to into a device that loads content for students to access at their homes.

    Content is fed pre-loaded on the devices before being dispatched to learners. Over 30 printed revision copies have already been repurposed to serve the academic needs of students.  

    Ganyana usually installs a parental control system in the phones before distributing them. This assists the parents to control what the students access through the phones. 

    The program is already underway with 23 learners in Moyale County and many more in Kibera participating in its pilot phase. 

    "All I wanted to do was to help the students. I find joy when children access learning materials whether physical or online. I mostly wanted to aid the vulnerable and the disadvantaged in society," he stated in an interview with a local daily. 

    His work is supported by well-wishers and the Kenya National Library Services. He hopes that it will be adopted for use during the Covid-19 pandemic before schools reopen.

    Education CS George Magoha on Tuesday hinted at allowing students to resume studies before January 2021 after the Ministry of Health (MoH) announced that the Covid-19 cases were dropping, although acting MoH Director-General Patrick Amoth urged for caution.  

    “With this programme, children in the slums are busy, reducing their chances of engaging in illegal activities during this period,” Mary Kinyanjui, the head librarian at the Kibera Community Library stated.

    File image of a teacher with students in class