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Kindles replace textbooks in Kisumu school

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Pupils of Menara Primary School use Kindles for learning. TOM OTIENO

Pupils of Menara Primary School use Kindles for learning. TOM OTIENO 

By BD Correspondent

Posted  Sunday, August 18  2013 at  15:34

In Summary

  • Kisumu County’s Menara Primary School is setting the pace with the adoption of e-readers as the principal learning tool.
  • The school’s climb up the technology ladder has benefitted from its close cooperation with the Ouko Community Initiatives (OCI) – a rural-based organization founded by the family of former Foreign Affairs minister Robert Ouko.
  • Christabel Ouko, the patron of OCI, says the organization had chosen e-readers over laptops because they do not need a constant supply of power and are much lighter for ease of portability.

A rural Kenyan school has broken new ground in the use of technology in early childhood education that is expected to set the tone for the planned introduction of laptops in public schools next year.

Kisumu County’s Menara Primary School is setting the pace with the adoption of e-readers as the principal learning tool that has added an element of fun to the pupils’ experience.

The Muhoroni-based school’s climb up the technology ladder has benefitted from its close cooperation with the Ouko Community Initiatives (OCI) – a rural-based organization founded by the family of former Foreign Affairs minister Robert Ouko.

OCI and its partners have been pivotal to successful execution of the programme that is expected to showcase how technology can be used to improve the quality of education in rural Kenya.

The community-based organization and its partners have financed the acquisition of the technology and the training of teachers besides establishing a lunch programme that has pushed absenteeism in the school to an all-time low.

The e-readers for schools project is part of OCI’s integrated programme for rural Koru that includes the Dr Robert Ouko Memorial Community Library.

The library, which will officially open its doors to the public later this year, went into operation in July ahead of time to accommodate children during the prolonged teachers’ strike.

Hundreds of local pupils flocked to the library during the strike, where staff used the E-readers to engage them in reading from local and international authors in English, Swahili and Dholuo.

OCI’s Project Manager Richard Oketch says the children’s love for e-readers has is helping to nature a reading culture that has seen many pupils read more than a hundred books each.

Teachers love the e-readers too. Each of the 265 e-readers comes with more than 300 titles, including government specified textbooks in English, science, Kiswahili, social studies, and CRE.

Teachers and pupils can also access dictionaries, a world atlas, the Bible, and exercise worksheets to reinforce and practice skills.

The e-readers are particularly suitable for learners with vision impairment coming with a font-size manipulation function that enables enlargement of print sizes for easy reading.

The e-readers also come with 3G internet access that enables users to remotely upload updated materials. Deaf students and younger pupils can make use of the audio feature that reads books aloud with the touch of a button.

Tom Onyona, the head teacher at Menara Primary School says the e-readers have changed the learning environment in the 500-pupils school where the size of a class is often as high as 70.

Mr Onyona says there has been a striking improvement in the pupils’ fluency in English and enthusiasm for school.

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