Over the past year, Kenya Director John Kamwara has cultivated a dynamic local leadership team of Meru teachers to assume much of our technology training work, providing peer-to-peer guidance and skill development for fellow teachers at our 35 partner schools. The leadership team is comprised of talented, professional, knowledgeable and generous teachers who have taken our trainings in past years and have integrated computers into their classroom teaching. Their interest in taking this on as a community service is a clear indication of how much work we have done in this community over the past nine years. They are dedicated to our mission and excited to assume responsibility.
Here is a picture of the leadership team with Executive Director Barb Bates, taken this month (click on the image to enlarge it):
The transition from Barb leading all of the teacher training to the leadership team taking the reins was smooth and so promising. They are sure to exponentially increase our impact!
A key component of turning over the teacher training to our leadership team is ensuring the quality of the training materials. Before Barb journeyed to Meru this summer, she worked with star volunteer Ann Marie Elaqua to develop a webinar (PowerPoint with Barb’s voice introducing each slide/concept) based on the Intel TEACH materials, providing the framework for the leadership team’s workshop trainings for their peers. Barb and Ann Marie will create at least four more webinars for the leadership team to use as they conduct the basic course on how to use computers and part of the advanced courses on how to teach with them.
This photo shows one of our leadership team members, Harun Bundi, going over the use of the webinar with the group:
Along with empowering our leadership team to train their peers, we have also worked hard to develop a technology team of four awesome tech professionals, three of whom have master’s degrees in information and communications technology (ICT). They have already begun taking inventory of all of the computers we have sent to Meru to determine which computers are working, which need to be fixed and which need to be used for parts and then recycled. The vice chancellor of Kenya Methodist University expressed excitement about starting a computer recycling program in Meru, which one of our leadership team members, Nicholas, will start working on to investigate the process and the potential markets.
This visit demonstrated that Technology Partnership is at a major tipping point: all of the work we have done has lead to great acceptance within the Meru educational community, and both of the main universities in Meru are not only on board but willing to help us with support and resources. Our 35 partner primary and secondary schools are eager for more training and for the help we give them providing computers, and especially the maintenance of those computers. We have great relationships with the teachers and computer managers in all the schools.
We even made inroads into the local and national education governing bodies. The second-in-charge of the Meru district of education came to one of our workshops for a couple of hours, saw what we did and was impressed. Her boss had heard good things and wanted her to come and check it out. Barb also met, by chance, the Meru women’s representative to Kenya’s parliament, who wants to connect for more information about how to teach teachers computer skills and how to teach with computers. They have a one-laptop-per-child program ready to go at the national level (already funded) but are stymied by how to teach the teachers. Our training program may help fill that need.
Technology Partnership has come so far, from 10 partner schools to 35; from a handful of teachers learning how to use computers to hundreds learning how to effectively use them in the classroom; from a few hundred students benefiting from access to today’s technology to thousands learning, prospering and developing new avenues for future success through computers. Stay tuned and watch us grow!