Education  Kenya Project #28003

Use tablets to support communities in rural Kenya

by Supporting African Maths Initiatives
Use tablets to support communities in rural Kenya
Use tablets to support communities in rural Kenya
Use tablets to support communities in rural Kenya
Use tablets to support communities in rural Kenya
Use tablets to support communities in rural Kenya
Use tablets to support communities in rural Kenya
Use tablets to support communities in rural Kenya
Use tablets to support communities in rural Kenya
Use tablets to support communities in rural Kenya
Use tablets to support communities in rural Kenya
Screenshots from OneBillion apps
Screenshots from OneBillion apps

When we started the project back in August 2016 there was lots of discussion about what would be the best apps to use if we really wanted to impact student's learning in schools. Whilst searching the app store for 'Maths Education' the options seem near endless, the number with a strong base of evidence for improving learning are few and far between. If you also include those which are available in local languages, or at least that have been used in East Africa the results became practically non-existent.

The real stand-out amongst the rest was an app called OneBillion, created by a team in the UK but piloted in Malawi it aims to help build basic numeracy skills for children aged 3-7. It has been subject to a number of rigorous, randomised control trials, and consistently shown impressive results both in Africa and back in the UK. 

Malawi app 'teaches UK pupils 18 months of maths in six weeks'

A lot has happened in the nearly 3-years since starting this project. There was a global competition called the Global Learning X-Prize, in which 150 teams from around the world competed over 2 years to produce a technology-based solution that could help children around the world team themselves basic reading, writing and arithmetic. These teams were reduced to 5 finalists, which then spent a further 2 years undergoing a large scale trial of their apps with 2,500 students in Tanzania. Just last month the grand prize of $15M was awarded, and actually split between two teams, KitKit School - a collaborative game created by teams at Berkely, US and Seoul, South Korea, and OneBillion!

We, of course would like to share a huge congratulations to all the teams who took part and the overall winners. It has been incredibly exciting to see just how much the landscape of educational technology has changed in such a short time, and provides some incredible opportunities for the future. We look forward to continuing our work with such fantastic partners, and are highly greatful for the support from everyone who has helped enable us bring these opportunities to children in Kenya.


Students in Kenya working with OneBillion
Students in Kenya working with OneBillion
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Last week Chris was back in Kenya with one question in mind: How can mobile apps best be used to help farmers?

He was joined by representatives of12 institutions, organisations and NGOs (from 5 countries) and 30 local farmers, who together explored existing mobille applications, as well as generating plans for potential future development.

Apps demonstrated included use of machine learning for automated crop pest and disease recognition, weather forecasting, informative learning videos for a wide variety of relevant topics, and tools to support budgetting.

The response to the week was overwhelmingly positive, and insightful discussions will help guide us as we continue to use technology throughout our Digital Communities Initiative.

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Maths Camp Poster
Maths Camp Poster

This week marks the start of Africa Science week, and to celebrate we are hosting an additional maths camp in Kitale, Western Kenya. The camp has been organised in partnership with the Mawazo Institute, a Kenyan non-profit which aims to support the next generation of female thought leaders and scholars in Africa. As such, for the first time the camp has been organised specifically for female students, with 40 young women selected from across the country and provided with a full bursary to attend the camp. 

A planning week was completed last week by a team of 10 local and 2 international volunteers, and all of the school students arrived yesterday, ready for a week of exciting science and mathematics. There will be interactive sessions around the themes of programming, robotics, mathematical thinking, statistics and cryptography, with additional sessions for physical activities, guest speakers, and mathematical games.

We will be making extensive use of mobile tablets throughout the camp, from organising initial registration to exploring interactive programming and robotics software, data simulations and more! We're incredibly thankful to everybody who has made this possible, and look forward to sharing more updates in the future.

Links:

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It feels like only yesterday when we first delivered 20 (and later another 40) tablets for use in our first Digital Communities project, based in Kitale, Western Kenya. Whilst initially only planned as a 1-year pilot, thanks to the generosity and support of local and international teams we were able to extend the project into the second year and look for more ways to sustainably move forward beyond.

As for a quick few highlights from the past year:

  • Primary Schools - We have been able to continually work with local primary schools throughout the year and successfully managed to conduct a full randomised control trial to evaluate impact. This was a huge undertaking, as it involved gaining ethical approval from partner universities in Kenya and UK, upskilling the local team to conduct pre and post tests using the EGMA and EGRA international standards and identifying an intervention timeline that wouldn't be disrupted by holidays or elections. We are at the final stage of analysing the data and look forward to publishing the results very soon.

  • Secondary Schools - Whilst less time was spent in secondary schools compared to primary, we did manage to hold a number of events such as 'African Code Week' and summer 'Maths Camps' where high school students were given lots of opportunities to interact and be inspired with ideas such as programming and robotics. Following the success of these events, the local team has managed to secure an additional $20,000 to see programmes grow in the future. This is of course a huge achievement and milestone for project sustainability, and would not have been possible without the support of people like you.

  • Agriculture - The local team has recently moved its operations to the nearby Manor House Agricultural Centre, and taken the opportunity to expand their ideas for integrating technology into support for farmers. They have been part of numerous training programmes and have strong plans to keep building on these in the future. Food security is still a major issue, and other the past 2 years we have since periods of both critical drought and intense flooding; new technologies and innovations are more important than ever to help farmers cope manage such unpredictable and difficult times.

  • Women in Enterprise - This has been a huge learning experience for the team, with much time spent travelling around the country to meet inspiring women running their own businesses. The team has been able to use videos to help support the learning of new skills such as beadwork and bag-making, and is also proud to share the success of one it's own interns, Cabrine, who was invited to the Young African Leaders Initiative to learn more about human-centred design thinking, social inclusion and design challenges.

From everyone in the UK and Kenya, we would like to again extend a huge thanks for your support, and hope to share lots more exciting updates in the future!

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As a quick update from the DCI project in Kenya, the team is excited to report that they have recently received ethical approval to conduct a one-year study to assess the impact on learning outcomes of primary school children, through the use of OneBillion mobile apps in Kenya.

For those who have not heard of OneBillion, they are a fantastic non-profit based in the UK who have spent years developing and trialling educational apps in the UK and Malawi. The apps themselves are excellent, and have recently been announced as one of 11 semi-finalists to the Global Learning XPrize.

Over the past year, teams in the UK and Kenya have been working closely together to provide opportunities for students in Wekhonye primary school to start using the apps, and we have been receiving lots of overwhelmingly positive feedback from all involved. It is our hopes that by conducting an in-depth research trial, we will be able to not only critically evaluate the impact on learning outcomes for the students, but also provide evidence to help shape policy across Kenya as a whole. The Kenyan government has recently invested in and delivered over 700,000 tablets to schools across the country, presenting a fantastic opportunity for increased impact if proven successful.

The extensive ethics review was conducted by Maseno University, Kenya, and the team are also working in collaboration with Nottingham University. We expect that this partnership will not only prove a strong model to conduct quality research, but also provide scope to include the study in a larger cross-country comparison across the UK and multiple countries in Africa.

We have already started the first phase of the study, creating tools for baseline and end assessment, and conducting training for the local team. We expect the trial to get fully underway by January, and look forward to sharing results and updates early next year.

Many thanks again for your ongoing support,

The DCI team

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Organization Information

Supporting African Maths Initiatives

Location: London - United Kingdom
Website:
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Supporting African Maths Initiatives
Chris Clarke
Project Leader:
Chris Clarke
Twickenham, United Kingdom

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