News in 2014

December 2014

2 Day workshop with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology

We launched the programme formally with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MOEST) this month, holding a two day workshop in the Masada hotel, Naivasha.
The aim of the workshop was to allow MOEST to gain a deeper understanding of iMlango. The workshop focused on a number of important subjects including: ICT integration in education, an overview on the iMlango programmme, how it would be implemented and the programme’s vision for the future. Representatives from Avanti, sQuid, Whizz and Camara were all in attendance to give presentations on their organisations, and the part they play in the programme.
The workshop went on to discuss important topics such as how teachers would be trained in the schools. To put this into context, the training would need to involve teaching them how to turn on a computer, how to access the internet and basic computer trouble-shooting.
Teacher training is imperative to iMlango as attendance data will be collected on a daily basis by the teacher, using the iMlango attendance tablet and contactless smartcards – which would then be used to monitor the pupils’ academic progress. Access to the internet and to the iMlango learning portal will also be controlled by the teacher – therefore this was a key discussion point for all involved.
iMlango has required careful planning and preparation, and this workshop provided the perfect setting for all stakeholders to align their understanding and vision for the coming months. As we say goodbye to 2014 – an eventful year for all involved with the programme – and say hello to 2015, we are well prepared to kick-on and make significant on the ground progress.
 
 
November 2014

Smartcards and hardware arrive in Kenya

Our smartcards and attendance monitoring hardware is all ready now. These were shipped from the UK and China simultaneously and arrived in sync, on-the-ground in Kenya. After collecting it all from customs, we were able to press on and transport the smartcards and hardware to the programme head office in Nairobi.
2 large crates were needed to transport the smartcards to the office. Another crate carried the attendance tablets and when it all arrived safely in the office, it was onto the next huge task!
The 156,000 smartcards – 6000 teacher cards and the rest for students - had to be manually sorted by school, and then by class to ensure the implementation packages were correctly arranged.
The attendance hardware also needed to be prepared before deployment. This meant the field team had to download the sQuid attendance app, charge the tablets and install the memory cards. Before the technological implementation, the tablets had to be thoroughly tested to ensure the technology would work in the field
Once all the cards had been sorted, the tablets tested, and it all signed-off from the team, it was time to pack it all away into the implementation packages – which included programme posters and end user manuals. The task to pack everything away is now fully underway and we envisage that it may take some time.
 
 
October 2014

Rural Kenya to Washington, D.C.

Monitoring and Evaluation is a critical part of our programme. We just completed 600 household surveys and 1700 academic assessments - the emphasis of these is on issues relating to girls education.
We also launched iMlango to the wider NGO and Government community at the 2014 mEducation Alliance international symposium, which is an invite-only event with approximately 200 individuals from over 70 organisations representing leading lights in the field of technology application for advancing quality education outcomes - particularly in low-resource and developing countries.
The event was held on the 20-22 October in Washington, D.C, and its aim was to bring together leading donor, private sector, NGO, ICT4E researchers, project innovators, and key policymakers engaged in the field of mobile technologies and education, to deepen knowledge exchange and collaboration for scaling project impact. It was an amazing event, and thanks to USAID for inviting us to participate.
 
 
September 2014

The first set of computers are installed

One down, many more to go! The field team installed the first set of computers this month. This is the start of a huge task for the team as it includes installing: data sockets, power sockets, high-speed satellite broadband, satellite dish, wifi, reinforcing the doors and windows in the school, and ensuring that the computers are sheltered and not exposed to rain.
 
 
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August 2014

PC equipment arrives in Mombasa

Land Ahoy! The first container full of PC equipment arrives safely in Mombasa, after being shipped from Ireland. Handled by the Camara Kenya team, the demanding task of unpacking the machines gets underway. The guys on the ground are well used to this type of hard-work, and before long all of the machines are unpacked and prepared to be dispatched to the schools, ready for install. Once installed, the computers will be used as an access point to the internet and to the learning portal.
Teacher training will also be provided as it is ultimately down to the teachers to impart their knowledge on the students. There are another 2 containers full of computers scheduled to arrive in Kenya over the coming months, and in total, will amount to: 3250 computers, 520 laptops with headphones and 520 projectors.
 
 
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June 2014

Initial schools surveys undertaken in Kenya

The work on the ground begins! As the iMlango programme involves installing 1000’s of computers with high-speed satellite broadband connectivity in rural schools, the first hurdle to overcome was to document which schools had access to electricity and which schools didn’t.
Documenting this was a huge task in itself and involved visiting schools in the targeted counties, speaking to the teachers and understanding what issues they have, and the type of conditions that they have to work in. And as the programme involves large amounts of teacher engagement, we conducted a comprehensive survey to understand their level of IT literacy. Being able to understand how much teacher training would need to be carried out in the future was the key output to this survey – as without this, we would not be able to be sure how well the teachers would be able to correctly deliver the curriculum to the students once the programme had gone live in the schools.
Accessing the schools wasn’t always easy, or a smooth ride! The field team’s 4 x 4 was put through its paces as it got stuck in the mud on more than one occasion.