Taking digital literacy to rural schools
Wajir county has a population of 661,941 and an area of 55,840.6 km². Wajir County has only one local authority: Wajir county council. Somali people who are Muslim in culture and faith predominantly occupy it. The purpose of coming here was to deliver a Kio Kit, our digital literacy kit to Wajir library in Wajir town. It is a Kenya National Library Service (KNLS) knls.ac.ke funded by Book Aid International. It is a community library serving over 20 schools and an immediate population of about 90,000. It is a vital source of knowledge, especially for school children who need revision time after school and on weekends. The experience was definitely surreal from the beginning. We flew from Nairobi at 7:30 a.m in a small plane and arrived in Wajir an hour and a half later to a totally different world culturally. At the airport, we taxied in next to a fighter jet and a military land rover on one side; not too far ahead was 2 UN relief and medevac helicopters. Clearly an environment seemingly tense in the wake of terror attacks by Al shabaab given recent intelligence of possible attacks here. After a self-service language sorting experience, we grabbed the Kio Kit and were off in the back of a military style land cruiser pickup packed with more of us than it should carry with luggage space an afterthought. It clearly was normal here given how much ease the locals seemed to accept the arrangement. They are the only vehicles allowed into the airport. They ferry you out of the airport where your host or a taxi takes you into Wajir town. When we arrived, we were received by Mariam, a nice lady in full Muslim attire in 36 degree Celsius heat. She shook my colleague Nivi’s, hand, but declined to shake the outstretched hand of my colleague Reg and I, (a religious and cultural no-no, we learnt). We clearly had come to a different cultural context, another extreme in our efforts to spread digital literacy across Africa. Every time we get to our new location, especially one far away from Nairobi, I think of the BRCK education vision and the fact that we are walking the talk.
‘‘Our vision is to enable millions of children in schools across emerging markets to access digital educational tools for better learning’’.
KNLSThe Kenya national library service sets up libraries countrywide. It is a noble unit of the government given the importance of access to knowledge for all. Book aid international complements these efforts by providing additional support to the libraries, this can be in form of books and in this case, the Kio Kit: the digital literacy kit from BRCK.
Digital literacyI am old school. I like the smell, tactile feel of a physical book. But my sentiments are subjective. There are some generational interactional elements we cannot ignore when dealing with a multifaceted clientele, especially the youth: The influence of technology, aspirations, perspectives, and attention spans- the list is long. Even as deep as Wajir, the youth readily embrace technology and those who haven’t are likely to be curious about it. The question becomes;
- What does this mean for educational experiences we provide?
- What does this mean culturally and the economics of providing education in the 21st century Africa?
- What does this mean for how we are shaping the current generation to cope with the future as society evolves?