Empowering Kids one Computer Skill at a Time

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Starting a computer, creating a new folder, naming all the parts of a computer and even finally shutting the computer down, simple right? These may not seem like something to even rack your brains over, but to many, it is actually an uphill task.

In fact for some in Kenya, a computer is a peculiar object, one to be marveled upon. Strange isn’t it? How would that be the case when even the government knows better and will soon dish out laptops to class one pupils?

According to a recent study, , it was noted that access to ICT facilities is a major challenge facing most African countries, with a ratio of 1:150, computer to students, against the ratio of 1:15 in the developed countries’. This is against the backdrop that places about 75% of Africans beginning their lives in a rural setting. The digital divide in Kenya is gaping. With one side being very privileged, and the other disadvantaged.

This is the impetus that saw Caleb Ndaka and a group of young people, predominantly from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology think hard, and seek to change lives one laptop a time.

The Volunteers took their laptops, mobilized resources through social media campaigns, and saved money from their upkeep and arranged for the first “Kids Comp Camp” in Masii Township Primary School, Ndaka had previously studied here.

They came up with a curriculum and made use of the School Holiday, to reach out to the children. The maiden camp was in April 2014, at the Masii Township Primary school, in Machakos County. This camp saw 60 Children attend the camp, 90% of them had never seen or touched a computer in their lifetime.

One of the students, Nzilani Musau, can attest that the camp was life changing, “this was my first time to use a laptop. I learnt a lot of things likewhat is a computer is, and even how to type a teacher’s assignment.”

Kids Comp Camp is driven by the clear need to share digital knowledge; the vision is to front digital literacy in marginalized communities. They are not only concerned with this, but also impact life skills, and constantly encourage the student to dream big. It is a nonprofit initiative to help young learners; 9-14 in marginalized communities catch up with the current digital driven society.

Every school holiday (April, August and December) and sometimes during weekends, Kids COMP CAMP runs computer camps targeting pupils in primary schools in marginalized areas. During the camps, the learners go through an exciting and relevant digital literacy curriculum designed for a student with no prior experience with computers. The curriculum and training are well complemented by a lot of fun activities, audio visuals and animations to optimize the learner’s concentration and participation in all sessions.

In addition to the digital literacy training, the program has a session dubbed Heart and Craft. During these session learners and volunteer trainers get to share life experiences beyond the class and computers. These involve sharing experiences of some of the young professionals that make up the camp volunteers to inspire and encourage the dreams and aspirations of these young learners. The bond created between the campers and camp volunteers during Heart and Craft lead to mentorship for some of the campers.

They do not arrange one hit wonder camps, so by the end of the year they intend every learner to take at least 30 hours of the program. That means, for every camp, the trainers do a follow up.

Since inception, Kids comp camp has successfully conducted 10 camps reaching out to more than 600 pupils from 10 schools in 5 counties. For 90% percent of them, this was their first time to use a computer!

The big picture of the program for every community they train is to establish a well-equipped and easily accessible facility dubbed ‘Kids Comp Lab’. They also train locally available human resource; hence developing the facility to be a community shared open space dubbed ‘Kids Comp Club’.

*Kids Comp Lab – The general arrangement is the school/ community organizes for a secure premise, then kids comp camp assist in mobilizing machines. So far, collectively have managed to mobilize over 40 computers for Machakos and Tana river counties.

One of the objectives that Kids COMP CAMP intends to deliver on is to set up a well-equipped and easily accessible community based computer facility dubbed ‘Kids COMP LAB’. This will be located at the school that hosts a camp. Upon its successful establishment and commencement of operations, this facility would play host to a local ‘Kids COMP CLUB’.

A ‘Kids COMP CLUB’ would be a community shared resource that reaches out to children from the entire community around its location and not necessarily the particular school at which it is located.

To manage the affairs at this resource facility, the program will ensure that the schools have an appropriate patron (preferably a teacher or other capable leader from the community) to manage the facility.

As school-going children transition through school often, any future ‘Kids COMP CAMP’ will be hosted at this facility with the help of volunteers mobilized from the area supported by the lead team Kids COMP CAMP. Handing over the project to the community in this way, they ensure the sustainability and scalability of the project’s impact in the long run.

Kids Comp Camp targets rural and marginalized communities. To sustainably penetrate and build long lasting impact, they develop the program around the local community. After a year of running camp, they will hand over the project to local communities. This will be achieved through Local Organizing Committees that will work hand in hand with Kids Comp Camp.

In Tana River, they had one school (Life Frontier Primary School) hosting 5 other schools in one site. The schools were Maramthu, Adele, Hatata, mororo, Kodoramara primary schools. During the camp they had 200 Kids from 5 peoples groups attend.

In Nyeri Country they did Kihuyo Primary School. Whereby 70 Children attended, In Kitui- 80 students from Kasiluni attended. in Kisumu County, Oduwa Primary hosted 150 pupils.

Abigail, a recent graduate from JKUAT says ‘I meet so many students who have never seen a computer in their life, I begin teaching them and though it is a bit hard, I can see they grasp the knowledge.They know what a mouse is, they can open and close a file, I become very excited'

The Kids Comp Camp team is the embodiment of the saying, “Giving is not what you have, but who you are,” The Journey continues…

Last modified on Tuesday, 13 October 2015 06:22

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