On a chilly but warm Monday morning of June 20th 2016, Rene John Dierkx and I embarked on a 4 hour road trip from Lilongwe to Blantyre to deploy a Kio Kit purchased for Noacha Full Primary school by UNICEF.
Rene is an Education specialist and Architect at UNICEF who has worked in Africa for many years. As we chatted away during our journey I was amazed by the well maintained tarmacked roads, the warmness of the country and the lack of crazy traffic on a Monday morning! To me, Malawi was living up to its nickname – the warm heart of Africa.
Malawi is a landlocked country in the Southern African region and is among the world’s least developed countries. About 85% of the population lives in rural areas and the economy is driven by agriculture.
At around noon, we arrived at Noacha Primary School which is located in the outskirts of Blantyre. The school has over 5000 primary school pupils. Although the school has about 90 teachers, it does not have enough classrooms and learning resources. Each class has an average of about 100 students and there is a severe shortage of textbooks, exercise books, and even furniture leading to some classes being held out in the open.
Rene, being an architect, is monitoring a pavilion for the school which will serve as a learning and social resource centre. He has initiated a project called Living Schools that seeks to empower children to become thinkers, designers, and makers. Through this initiative, the school has implemented some fantastic projects such as tree planting and helping out in the construction of the pavilion. These activities will enable the children to reach their full potential, and I’m proud that the Kio Kit is a part of the project as a learning resource.
When we arrived at the school, we found the morning teachers winding up their shifts. About 10 teachers agreed to remain behind so that we can train them on the Kio Kit – our fully integrated education solution that turns every classroom into a digital classroom.
The reaction was amazing! The teachers were all excited. All the hunger pangs were gone and we ended up having a full afternoon training session. Due to time, we agreed that we’d continue the training the next day to include the other teachers as well as utilize the Kio Kit to teach a class.
On day two, teacher Gertrude was well prepared to teach her class 6 class science. Her topic for the day was living plants and with my help we selected appropriate topics from the Kio Kit. She selected a topic on plants from eLimu and was very excited that it had the exact illustrations and explanations that she had in mind.
In class she introduced the topic using chalk and a blackboard and then gave step by step instructions to the class on how to find the topic in the tablets. Due to the large number of students, they had to sit in groups of 4.
After about 10 minutes of working in groups, the picture below speaks a thousand words on what happened when she asked questions. Everyone raised their hands ready to answer questions. The only other resource that she had apart from the chalk and blackboard was the Kio Kit.
After class, some of the feedback I got from the students were, “it makes learning fun, I understood the subject more” etc.
Feedback from the teachers were, “it made teaching easy and fun, they were happy that they were the first school in the region to access digital technology, it helped them solve the issue of lack of textbooks” etc.
At BRCK, we do not just create technology but we design and engineer solutions that make a positive impact in the society we live in. Over 400 million children around the world do not have access to basic education. Our vision is to enable millions of children in schools across emerging markets to access digital education tools for better learning. Schools like Noacha and partners like UNICEF only help us reiterate our mission of providing quality education to all children around the world.
By Alex Masika
Head of Business Development