Transforming Education in Kibera, Kenya: My Volunteer Journey
I am thrilled to share the incredible journey I embarked upon as a volunteer in a primary school in Kibera, Kenya, one of the largest slums in Africa. Over the past few months, I had the privilege of dedicating my full time and skills to make a lasting impact on the lives of eager young minds.
We are reaching a transformational milestone at Volunteers Foundation, the charity my wife and I founded 13 years ago with the mission to provide holistic quality education to children in Kibera: a brand-new building being built thanks to the generous donation of Fly&Help, a German charity organization, and ARK Construction, BettsTownsendTaylor, and other local building companies. This will provide state of the art school facilities for our students, including library, IT laboratory, sport ground, etc. designed with long term sustainability in mind.
Volunteers Foundation is managed completely by volunteers in Europe, selected for their professional background, passions, and willingness of giving back and relies on local trained staff and educational partners in Kenya, such as TeachforKenya.
So, volunteers take care of all administration, organization, project management and fundraising tasks, while personnel on the ground focus on our core mission which is providing quality education to children.
This model seems to have worked very well so far and guarantees efficiency, transparency, and accountability something becoming very rare in the current environment.
Moreover, we have started a process of formally measuring the impact of our activities, so we are able to show what a pound donation actually achieves and the relevant ripple effect. First Impact Report will be issued in the next few weeks.
We also emphasize the importance of a cultural approach. Instead of imposing our ideologies, culture, and experiences, we have tactfully immersed ourselves in the local culture, with the goal of bridging the gap between diverse cultures, social backgrounds, and skill sets.
Such critical times require the full involvement of the trustees on the ground, that’s why I spent a lot of time in Kenya and more it will be required.
Much like supervising the initial phase of the construction of the new school building, I have focussed my time on the introduction of digital knowledge and tools among the local school staff and eager young minds.
I found a profound parallel between the construction of a new school and the process of building digital knowledge. They both involve laying a solid foundation. The bricks and mortar of a physical structure mirror the fundamental building blocks of education—basic literacy and numeracy skills. Simultaneously, the implementation of digital tools represents the infusion of technology into the educational landscape, erecting a framework for a more dynamic and interconnected learning environment.
For individuals with limited or minimal IT literacy, utilising technology can be intimidating at first. The success of adoption depends on how technology is introduced and presented.
My lifelong commitment to leveraging technology as an enabler for progress has undoubtfully helped. With a career spanning more than 25 years in the technology industry, I have been devoted to not only steering companies towards success but also acknowledging the transformative influence of technology in enhancing both work and living conditions.
I have successfully integrated a suite of digital tools into our school's infrastructure. All our teachers and staff are equipped with laptops, company email accounts, and access to Google Workspace, along with relevant applications. Additionally, we have implemented a comprehensive school management software called Dreamclass. This software enables us to manage various aspects, including tracking class attendance, scheduling lessons, recording grades and academic achievements, generating reports, handling invoicing, and facilitating communications.
This initiative marks a significant milestone in the Kibera area, setting us apart as digital pioneers!
To ensure proficiency in using these tools, our teachers and staff will undergo regular IT training sessions. Furthermore, a noteworthy number of our alumni have embarked on professional IT training with the intention of returning to our school to contribute to this technological advancement.
This foundation will serve as the cornerstone for delivering an authentic digital educational experience within the classroom. Currently, we are actively seeking the most fitting educational platform to deliver digital content and interactive lessons, aiming to establish an environment that nurtures innovation and readies students for the digital age.
Cultivating digital knowledge ensures that learners are well-prepared for the future, enabling them to navigate an ever-evolving, technology-driven world which provides opportunities as well as threats (as seen in A.I.).
As I reflect on this enriching experience, I am filled with gratitude for the opportunity to contribute to the educational development of these incredible children. The resilience and determination displayed by the Kibera community have left an indelible mark on my heart, motivating me to continue advocating for accessible quality education.
Finally, I have to express my gratitude and admiration for the real incredible force behind these endeavours, my wife Monica. Her resilience, vision and pursuit of excellence inspire me daily and I am honoured to play a supporting role in her extraordinary journey of improving children lives.
Join the Movement for Access to Quality education.
I invite you to join me in supporting such initiative that promotes quality education in a challenging social environment. Whether as individual or as part of a Corporate Social Responsibility program, together we can make a difference and pave the way for a brighter future for children in this part of Africa. DM for more information.