After the sudden closure of all learning institutions in March 2020 due to Covid-19, primary and secondary school students have been finding it difficult to learn at home. Many cannot access digital learning that happens online through platforms like YouTube, Viusasa, Websites and TVs due to poor network, expensive data bundles, lack of access to electricity, Smartphones and Tvs. According to Usawa Agenda May 2020 Learning Report , only 21 out of 100 primary school students and 29 out of 100 secondary school students can access online learning. Personal studies have also not been effective due to lack of access to adequate study/reading materials. This problem affects both the students who learn online and those who don't. However, if these students can be provided with a simple and affordable way to borrow reading materials such as text books, revision books and past papers from the school libraries near them, studying at home can be easy.
What it does
Masomo Hayakomi Initiative will ensure that students easily access, borrow, use and return reading materials such as Textbooks, Revision books and Revision papers available in the schools near them.
One of the key goals of Education in Kenya is promoting social equality and responsibility through providing an inclusive and equitable access to quality and differentiated education to all learners. MaHa, in line with this key goal, will grant all primary and secondary school students the opportunity to access the reading materials from the schools within their locality irrespective of whether they study in that school.
To avoid congesting at the library premises searching for books, the school will have a Facebook page under its name where the librarian will be posting on a daily basis a list and/or pictures of available study materials. The students then visit the page, view all the available materials and request for them either in the comment section or via a message. The Librarian then replies with the time to collect the books from the premises. By allowing students to access the libraries near their residential area and by ensuring no congestion in the libraries, the risk of contracting COVID-19 will be minimized and learning will be enhanced.
Since a most students can access Facebook through their gadgets, or through borrowing from parents/guardians, relatives and close friends, the initiative will be successful. And with the free Facebook mode in operation, it means that the students can access the library services free of charge and even if they are to use the data mode, the highest cost they can incur for purchase of data bundles is only ten shillings.
Where returning takes longer than necessary, or materials have been damaged or lost, the school can liaise with the area chief and/or Nyumba Kumi Leader(s) to help in recollection or replacement of the reading materials.
How I built it
I improved the idea through gathering information from different stakeholders, that is: primary and secondary school students, parents, area chief and Nyumba Kumi leaders through a questionnaire. I also created a sample Facebook page to demonstrate how posts about material availability can be made and how students can borrow books from the comments section. The gadget that one uses only has to access Facebook and not necessarily a smartphone.
Challenges I ran into
During data collection, some respondents took long to fill and hand in the questionnaires. It also took a longer time to access the area chief and the Nyumba Kumi leaders
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
I was able to collect responses from 5 secondary school students, 5 primary school students, 4 parents, 2 Nyumba Kumi leaders and one area Chief.
The sample Facebook page also received responses during the period which shows that if the initiative is implemented, it will be highly embraced and quite easy for operation by the user.
What I learned
All the students I received responses from showed a great desire for a good access to adequate reading materials while at home. For instance, a secondary school student who came home with a Mathematics textbook has been studying Maths only but doesn't have a Chemistry text book. At the same time, there is a student in a similar situation with a Chemistry textbook but does not have a Maths text book. A platform where these students can access the books they don't have will be of great benefit.
All the ten students responded in the affirmative concerning doing personal studies at home. They however pointed out the challenge of accessing adequate study materials.
9 out of the 10 students indicated that they haven't been taking any digital learning citing challenges like electricity, lack of TVs, expensive data bundles and poor connectivity.
All the students indicated that they could access Facebook through a parent's, close friend's or relative's gadget. The parents offered to allow their children to use their gadgets to access library services through Facebook or to help them access them through friends' or relative's gadget.
The chief and Nyumba Kumi leaders also pledged their support in ensuring that reading materials are recollected or replaced.
What's next for MaHa?
The initiative is ready for implementation as it is. However several additional features can be incorporated in the initiative on request or out of need. These include inter-library borrowings, availing SATs for the students, involving teachers to assist and address specific students needs such as making clarifications, giving assignments and marking tests. Also, a way to hold online discussions can be devised. There is also a great need for schools to work closely together in order to verify where need be, the personal and academic details of the students.