News in 2016

December 2016

Kenya Certificate of Primary Education Exam Results

The results for last month’s Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams were announced, with 952,000 students sitting the examinations. 5,190 students achieved a mark above 400 (out of 500), down from 7,560 in 2015.
22 per cent of students (206,000) scored between 301 and 400 marks. Nationwide, marks were similar to 2015 across the board, other than in the 400 and above category where top schools seemingly suffered. This is largely because of Dr Matiang’i - the Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology’s – anti-cheating initiative, which aggressively curbed instances of foul play.
For the first time in KCPE’s history, there wasn’t a single case of cheating, meaning all candidates were able to receive their results.
We received news of great success in many of our schools. iMlango schools in Kilifi impressed in particular, with their mean KCPE mark nine points higher than the county average (235 vs. 226), and improving eight points when compared to 2015.
Kilifi ranked 40th out of 47 counties in the 2016 KCPE results, so we’re especially encouraged with the iMlango schools’ progress in this county.
Mayowe Primary (Malindi subcounty, Kilifi) is one such school that saw significant improvement from 2015, recording a mean improvement of 33.28. Their score breakdown was very similar to that of the national average (nine out of 38 pupils, or 24 per cent, achieved 301-400 marks), which is a great achievement considering Kilifi placed 40th out of the 47 counties, and that Malindi subcounty suffered acutely during Kilifi’s drought period between August and October.
Happy, a student at Mayowe Primary, managed to score 359 in her KCPE and gained admission to one of the best county schools in Kilifi, Waa Girls Secondary. Her teacher, Mr Nyoka, attributes her performance to her positive perception of education following the inception of iMlango.
We also talked to a couple of the head teachers at schools where some pupils have excelled. Vitale HGM in Makueni had seven pupils (four girls) that scored above 400 in their KCPE. The head teacher said that as an example, Candid (one of the seven pupils) would frequently talk about how access to the computer labs provided a good source of learning material throughout the two years – particularly the online Q-Files encyclopaedia.
These cases all show that despite the marginalised conditions which our students face, academic excellence can be a reality.
Until next time,
The iMlango team

 
November 2016

How internet access is making a big difference at this primary school in Kenya

The following is a post by Megan Iacobini de Fazio, guest blogger for the One Campaign.

The generator comes back to life with a loud rumble, and a cheer rings through the classroom as the computer screens flicker back on. Break time has only just finished at Kibiko Primary School, but there is a scramble among the children to log onto their computers. The lesson is about to start, and they can’t wait.
“I’ve noticed a change in attitude. The children used to be intimidated by subjects like math, but now it’s fun for them and they look forward to their time in the lab,” says Nelius Njiru, who teaches math, science, and Swahili at Kibiko.
Kibiko is one of 205 primary schools across four Kenyan counties to be part of the iMlango program, which aims to improve education by delivering internet access, computer labs, smartcard-based attendance monitoring, and online learning tools to primary school children.
The iMlango platform offers one-on-one math tuition and allows students to access a wealth of online content, including English lessons, African stories with a social message, and life skills training.
And, while simply making class more fun with iMlango’s interactive lesson plans is enough to entice some children back to school, others have more serious reasons for missing class.
“I used to stay at home sometimes because we didn’t have food or I could not wash my uniform,” says Silvia, a Kibiko 7th grader who puts into words an experience that is common for many girls in Kenya. In some communities, when families are unable to cover the costs of their children’s education, the girls are usually the first to pay the price of poverty and stay home.
“Some people here think that girls should work, not study,” says Joan, a 7th-grade student. “When girls are educated they can achieve a lot for themselves and also help their community.” Some of the other girls in the classroom—who want to be neurosurgeons, lecturers, and journalists when they grow up—nod their heads in agreement.
To help girls achieve a quality education, iMlango has also started offering financial incentives to the most underprivileged families. Five dollars are uploaded every fortnight onto a pink plastic smartcard, which is usually given to the women in the family and can only be used with selected merchants.
“My mother can buy soap and food with the pink card, and it helps a lot,” says Silvia. “I never miss school anymore.”
iMlango, which is supported by the Kenyan Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology and delivered by four companies working in partnership with the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), has already impacted the lives of 68,000 girls across Kenya.
And its impact is not limited to academic subjects. The program offers a variety of after-school activities, such as debate club and a tree club, where students can plant trees and learn about the environment. Girls especially are encouraged to work on issues affecting them and come up with their own projects, which they can then share with other schools in the network. For example, girls from a school in Makueni have created content on the importance of hand washing and good hygiene. At Kibiko, Silvia and her friends compete in the national debate competitions and, through the school’s girls’ club, have learned how to administer first aid and make healthy juices.
While the girls at Kibiko, like at many other schools around the world, face unique obstacles to their right to education, innovative programs like iMlango, together with the girls’ determination to rise above these obstacles, is giving them a chance to achieve their goals.
“It has given us a lot of confidence because we know that our computer, math, and English skills are as good as anyone else’s. We really know how to express ourselves now,” says Joan.
The teachers agree. According to Nelius, “iMlango is doing wonders for our children.”

(Photo credit: One Campaign)


 
October 2016

UK Secretary of State for International Development visits Kenya

We were honoured to be invited to the Digitech event on Technology and Innovation on Sunday 23 October at the British High Commissioner’s Residence, which was attended by the Rt Hon Priti Patel MP, Secretary of State for International Development.
The event formed part of Ms Patel’s first trip to Africa since being appointed Secretary of State in the summer and involved seeing first-hand how UK Aid investment is boosting economic and educational development in Kenya. The event focused on how digital technology and innovation is transforming the lives of Kenyans, in particular the poor, and the role that UK Aid, Kenyan and UK businesses can play in this transformation.
During the event we explained to Ms Patel how our technology is being utilised to deliver cash payments via smart card to help bring marginalised girls back to school, and demonstrated the process used to monitor student attendance in rural schools.
We were also able to provide Ms Patel with some of our data findings from the programme, which detailed how child literacy is improving due to the online education resources that the digital learning platform delivers to students in the classroom.
In her speech to event attendees, Ms Patel referenced the power of the digital technology on display at the event - in particular the range of platforms that are delivering internet access to Kenya’s poorest children - and how DFID will continue to support these innovative approaches to development in Kenya.
 
 
September 2016

Back to school

Students returned to school this month after the August holidays, and we continued to work with the Great Debaters team to progress the iMlango Junior Great Debaters contest, the pioneering competition that utilises debating elements from the Great Debaters Contest TV show and iMlango’s interactive learning platform to deliver debating motions and capture student responses.
The contest is now into its second round after the first round results were released. There were 452 groups in total, comprising of 2,260 students that responded to the first round of the contest, with the top 100 groups progressing through to the second round.
The field team observed many of the group sessions that the students used to construct their responses, and it was apparent that a healthy dose of competition brought the best out of the students.
It was also interesting to see some recurring student attributes during the different group sessions, such as a leader emerging amongst the group members without the teacher appointing one, a ‘secretary’ being chosen by the group members to write down the response, and that everyone wants to type the work on the computer.
Commenting on the iMlango Junior Debaters Contest, Mr Munyao, a teacher at Mtito Andei primary school said: “The debate helped pupils in mastering the English language especially in reading and writing. It developed pupils’ creative thinking and research skills as they had to research for answers. It also prompted pupils to learn.”
Away from the schools we held our quarterly review meeting to ensure the programme remains on track. Our field team also held insightful meetings with education officials in the Uasin Gishu, Makueni and Kilifi counties to provide an update on the programme, in addition to sharing the feedback that we had received from the schools.
Until next time,
The iMlango team
 
 
August 2016

How iMlango and Maths-Whizz are transforming education in Kenya

The following is a post by Indzai Amani Ishmael, Trainer at Camara Kenya.

Most African schools are lying in a state of poverty with the majority of pupils and parents living on half a dollar each day. This means that things like education are beyond their means. For the schools to acquire a technology-aided education is like building a castle in the air. Therefore, when the iMlango Project came in to help schools across the four counties in Kenya, it was a big boost not only for the schools but also for the government, as computers for schools project was within its manifesto.
Maths-Whizz, the main educational software used by the iMlango project, has been giving out powerful results as observed by trainers doing field work and performing refresher training. The thinking ability of pupils is rising, hence enabling them to perform more positively in their examinations. After the refresher training, many teachers expressed their gratitude for the software as it became their main saviour in terms of organising their daily duties, not just in maths but also other subjects like literacy, science, social studies and so forth.
Targeting the whole school from class one to class eight, iMlango has generated an overwhelmingly positive result by transforming the lives of thousands of pupils in all the Kenyan counties involved in the iMlango project i.e. Kajiado, Kilifi, Makueni and Uasingishu. Another factor that helps to boost these schools is the introduction of projectors and internet. Projectors are the main proprietors which enable teachers to deliver whole class learning, making their job easier.
Most pupils don’t want to move out of the computer lab as they find it more interesting playing with the computers than to go outside to play football or other physical games. This is showing how effective the project is on the ground. Not only are the children excited by the project but the teachers in all the counties are positively affected also. Most teachers are getting the experience of working with computers for the first time. The introduction of the internet and the special training for them had a major impact.
Koiluget Primary School is in Uasin Gishu county. Here the teachers were able to help all the students complete their assessments as they saw the importance of Maths-Whizz in their school, teachers like Madam Beth Waweru who is in charge of the computer lab. Madam Wareru speaks of the enthusiasm of the pupils as they see the animation, and when using computers for the first time.
Madam Beth saw an improvement of Maths grades in their school and how easy it was for the pupils to do Maths. It also makes teaching easier as teachers use the ‘wholeclass’ teacher resources. There has been a number of newcomers in the school, absenteeism is no longer an issue and Maths is fun both to the teachers and students.
Now teachers are organised digitally and the programme has made learning realistic and customised to the level of learners. Students are being exposed to ICT and interest has been created to continue working with the devices especially with the Maths-Whizz programme.
 
 
July 2016

The Girls’ Education Forum

The iMlango Junior Debaters Contest is in full swing across all four counties with students working together in groups to formulate and submit their responses. Once submitted, the Great Debaters team will then evaluate each response before announcing who has made it through to the second round, which commences after the August holidays. Elsewhere in Kenya, the field team held insightful meetings with county education officials in Kajiado County. They provided an update on the programme and shared the progress that is being made through the sustainability initiative.
In London, we participated in the Girls’ Education Forum that was organised by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) in partnership with Global Citizen and CHIME FOR CHANGE, to help raise global ambitions on girls’ education. The forum brought together governments, private sector stakeholders, civil society partners and education champions to drive the implementation of the global goal to provide quality and accessible education for all.
At the event, Secretary of State for International Development, Justine Greening announced that the UK's Department for International Development will provide £100m of funding to help 175,000 of the world's poorest girls get an education. The announcement was featured on BBC News online, and we were very proud to see iMlango referenced within the article. You can read the article on the BBC News site here.
Until next time,
The iMlango team
 
 
June 2016

The iMlango Junior Debaters Contest Begins

The first iMlango Junior Debaters Contest has launched this month. The contest aims to improve student literacy levels and encourages students to discuss and debate thought-provoking topics that are delivered to the classroom through the learning platform.
To enter the contest, students are required to get into groups of five, and each group will then be registered using the iMlango attendance tablet to allow them to collectively access the learning platform to provide their response. Over the coming weeks, we expect there to be over 850 groups of students participating in the contest, and students have been advised to only work on their responses in the after school clubs, so to not impinge on valuable lesson time.
To progress to the later rounds of the contest, groups will need to decide which side of the motion they stand for and provide a carefully considered response by entering it directly into the learning platform. Their response will then be judged by the Great Debaters team and prizes will be distributed to the winners of each of the three contest stages.
Elsewhere in the programme, we welcomed the team from the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) this month who visited two of our schools in Kilifi County to review the impact and effectiveness of our programme. During their visit, they talked in depth to head teachers and parents of students who are benefiting from the Support Initiative, which is now supporting 12,000 students. The ICAI team were also shown the quick and simple process that a parent goes through when purchasing food and goods at the local merchant, using the funds that are provided through the initiative.
Our team continued to engage with teachers and students out in the field, and while talking to some girl students to find out more about how iMlango had impacted their life, there were some shocking revelations. One of the girls revealed that she used to pay for her school fees by being a sex worker, but that the introduction of iMlango had influenced her to concentrate on her education instead. She said, “Since the introduction of the iMlango project my perception has changed. I abandoned this vice and I have decided to concentrate on my studies. In fact, for the first time since I joined school, my mid-term tests this term are the best so far. iMlango has restored my hope and dignity as a girl. I feel much more worthy to press on and face another day. It has opened my eyes and now I know that the world contains so many good things, and with education we can achieve them.”
A powerful message from one of the many girls in the programme that are realising the importance of their education, enabling them to unlock their true potential.
Until next time,
The iMlango team
 
 
May 2016

iMlango wins Dóchas “Innovative Programme of the Year” Award

Students were greeted with new and engaging content as they returned to the iMlango classrooms after the short break this month.
The team behind the learning platform’s encyclopaedia, Q-Files, have added an online question and answer feature. A new question will be posted each week (e.g., why is the sea salty?) and the question will be answered with the aid of pictures, diagrams, videos, and an accompanying article. This is a great way to learn about new topics. We are working with Q-Files to generate specific questions that will help develop the iMlango students’ knowledge of key Life Skills topics, such as sanitation.
We are extremely excited to be working with the Great Debaters competition and television show in Kenya, and will be running our very own competition in schools using the iMlango learning platform to capture student responses to thought-provoking questions. Look out for more on this in next month’s update.
As ever, we continued to progress the Support Initiative and are making good progress. We aim to have parents and students in 130 schools benefiting from conditional payments in the coming weeks. The team are also working hard to deliver new community Wi-Fi sites in Makueni and Uasin Gishu County.
The field team have been busy accompanying the Girls’ Education Challenge team around schools in Makueni County for the programme’s quarterly review. They met with participating merchants and beneficiaries of the Support Initiative, observed teachers using content from the learning platform to conduct whole-class learning sessions, and witnessed one teacher give a presentation – with content sourced from the learning platform - on the importance of washing your hands. This was followed by a practical demonstration outside of the classroom. What this presentation demonstrates is that iMlango provides teachers and students with the necessary tools and skills to source and deliver information that is vitally important to the students’ health and wellbeing.
We’re very proud to announce that the iMlango programme was the winner of the Dóchas “Innovative Programme of the Year” Award. Presented by the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins in Dublin to Camara Education, who made the application on behalf of the consortium, the Dóchas Awards celebrate innovative and inspiring work by people and organisations in Ireland working for global justice
Lastly, we have lots of great new content on the site - make sure to check out the Success Stories and Gallery pages to see how iMlango is making a real difference in Kenya.
Until next time,
The iMlango team
 
 
April 2016

Latest iMlango project update

The following is a post from Changez Ndzai, Vetting Officer at Camara Kenya

It is 7.30 am at Malindi Central Primary school. The temperatures started to rise and even though it’s early, I can see the pupils very determined, settled in their perspective classes revising their work.
I am in Malindi, a tourist town located at the north side of the coast region of Kenya. Here the main challenge, as far as education is concerned, is girls dropping out of school at a young age due to ”child labour” and early marriage. I am delighted to learn that this scenario is about to change with the introduction of iMlango Project and the maths-whizz software in the school.
During the ongoing training, I was happy to see some of the students trying to fool me saying that they did not finish their maths-whizz assessments so they could stay longer working on the computer. When talking with the young pupils, they told me that mathematics is their main challenge when studying.
The good news is that since the introduction of the iMlango project in the school the ones who used to hate maths are now enjoying and finding the subject friendly and easy to understand due to the help of the ”maths-whizz” software.
Another iMlango and maths-whizz advantage is that students are developing higher understanding skills and excelling in the English language as the software uses tools such as audio, graphics and visual designs to show maths problems to students to solve. They also told me that they find it easy to understand them because it can be related to their daily activities hence making it much less complicated to be solved.
 
 
April 2016

The Support Initiative Gathers Momentum

April is a relatively quiet month as the schools break for the end of term holidays – and although the students were enjoying their time off, there was no respite for the field team as they focussed on progressing the iMlango initiatives in the schools and with the teachers, PTA committees, parents and local merchants.
During this year’s first school term, the field team carried out a total of 827 school visits. These visits provide assistance for the schools in understanding their attendance data, learning platform usage data and to provide training on any new learning platform content.
We continue to see more students transferring from non-iMlango schools to gain access to the programme, and are seeing the iMlango child clubs becoming increasingly popular. The clubs are an integral part of the programme, cultivating a better school environment and enhancing teacher and student relationships. By incorporating the learning platform’s Life Skills content into the clubs, students - in particular girls – are showing that they now have career aspirations, which was not previously evident.
Lastly, we had the pleasure of being visited by the team from the World Bank, who visited some of our schools in Kajiado County. They had the opportunity to interact with students, teachers and to understand how the support initiative is helping parents to provide food for their children, in return for improved attendance. The first term has seen a total of 127 local merchants committed to participate in the support initiative.
We’re looking forward to welcoming our students and teachers back to school after the holidays as we have some extremely exciting new learning platform developments to share…
Until next time,
The iMlango team
 
 
March 2016

The Rise of After School Clubs

It’s been another busy month for the iMlango team - a raft of new content has been uploaded to the learning platform, significant progress has been made on our initiatives and we continued to register new students into the programme, with over 23,000 students registered since the start of the year.

Learning platform content

We’re very pleased to announce that new and interactive Standard 1 eBooks from our content partner, eKitabu, were added to the learning platform this month. This is in addition to new eBooks from our new content partner, Tusome. Meaning “Let’s read” in Kiswahili, Tusome is a collaboration between Kenya’s Ministry of Education, Science and Technology; the United States Agency for International Development; and the UK’s Department for International Development that aims to improve learning outcomes by providing literacy content for Standard 1 & 2 students, in English and Kiswahili. Students are now able to access the Tusome syllabus eBooks – with an accompanying guide book for teachers – and various African-focussed stories on the learning platform.
On a recent visit to one of our schools in Makueni County, it was clear to see iMlango’s impact on the students as they were connecting projectors to laptops with consummate ease and accessing the applicable subject in preparation for whole-class learning sessions. Students are also regularly assisting other students to troubleshoot basic ICT issues - demonstrating a significant overall improvement and application of ICT knowledge.

After school clubs & initiatives

There are now 167 iMlango schools with child clubs taking place after school. That equates to a total of 222 clubs, as some schools have more than one, and 84 schools that run girls only clubs. These clubs offer extra access to the learning platform and regularly discuss pertinent topics.
It’s evident that students simply cannot get enough of the content available on the learning platform. They are regularly accessing the ICT labs after school hours – although not part of a formal club – to read the African StoryBook stories, Life Skills content and Q-files’ online children’s encyclopaedia.
The support initiative is progressing well with over 100 local merchants on board to provide food and goods to families that need support. Each merchant is provided with an iMlango tablet to accept payment, and families are given a small amount which is distributed on an iMlango contactless payment smartcard.

UNESCO Mobile Learning Week 2016

We were delighted to be invited back to this year’s UNESCO Mobile Learning Week event in Paris, France, where we were given the opportunity to share our experiences in analysing the large amount of attendance data captured in the field. It was a great turnout with over 70 people in the room for the presentation – a big thank you to all of you that could make it and we hope you enjoyed the talk.
Lastly, the team from the Global Business Coalition for Education spent a day with us at an iMlango school in Kajaido County, where they witnessed the excitement that iMlango has brought to the school and students. It was great to be able to share iMlango’s progress with another organisation, and you can read their blog on their time with us here.
Until next time,
The iMlango team
 
 
February 2016

And the Winner is…

This month saw the team from the Girls’ Education Challenge visit us for the programme’s quarterly review. Accompanied by our field officers, the team visited 5 iMlango schools in Uasin Gishu during their two-day visit. They had the opportunity to view students accessing the learning platform, attendance monitoring in action, as well as teachers using content from the learning platform to deliver whole-class learning.
Whole-class learning is an important variation of how content is delivered in the classroom, as one-on-one access to the ICT equipment is not always possible. Reading eBooks, searching the online encyclopaedia and accessing other engaging content is delivered through a projector, providing large class sizes with collective access to the learning platform.
Discovery Learning Alliance, part of Discovery Communications, also visited our schools this month, where they saw first-hand how exciting attendance monitoring is for the students. We then accompanied them to one of their schools where they are implementing a programme that utilises media to transform education - improving student learning and teacher effectiveness in the classroom.
You can view their blog on their time with us here.
We continued with the Community Internet Sustainability Initiative (CISI), which had the first school go-live with Wi-Fi last month, and an additional 4 going live this month in Kajaido. We envisage that CISI will provide a lasting service that helps iMlango go beyond the classroom, helping the wider-communities by providing digital access.
To ensure schools and teachers continue to be engaged in the programme, the field team averages over 70 school visits per week. No easy feat, but the continuous communication, supported by programme data and reports - a school-by-school breakdown of student attendance, learning platform access and time spent on specific educational content – allows schools and teachers to quickly identify areas of concern and implement change.
We progressed the conditional payments initiative, holding meetings with parents in the community to gain further understanding of how it can be used to improve student attendance. When talking to a mother of a student beneficiary, she told us of how iMlango has made her realise how important her daughter’s education is, saying: “I am very grateful for iMlango and I promise that Mukes (her daughter) will not miss school again. I will put more effort to make sure that my daughter’s education will be a success not only to her but to the entire community... Asante sana iMlango kwa msaada mlionilitea AIC Namanga Munguawabariki (Thank you very much iMlango for the help brought to AIC Namanga may God bless you.)”
Finally, a big congratulations to Maths-Whizz as they were announced as the winner of the best International Digital Education Resource award, at the 2016 BETT Awards in London last month. A truly fantastic achievement and well done to all of the Maths-Whizz team!
Until next time,
The iMlango team
 
 
January 2016

Registering Over 5,000 New iMlango Students – There’s an App for That

A very Happy New Year to all involved in the iMlango programme and to all of our followers that eagerly await these updates.
This month saw the field team tackle the large task of registering all of the new students into the programme, which included new standard 1 students and older students as well. Over the course of the month, we enrolled over 5,000 students into the programme, issuing them with their very own iMlango contactless smart card.
In preparation for this influx of new students, we developed a brand new Registration App for our Android based attendance monitoring tablets.This native application has been built from the ground up to make the registration process quicker, and ultimately more efficient for the field team.
Students’ details are simply entered into the registration App in the classroom by the field team, linking their details to the student smart card in the iMlango data system. The smart card then enables the student to access the interactive learning platform, and for the teacher to monitor and capture their daily attendance. The entire registration process takes less than 30 seconds per student. Although, we found the process somewhat of a challenge with some of our younger students, as many did not know their full names, or how to spell them.
The field team also provided teachers with refresher training at many of the schools this month, which will continue over the next two months. We also held meetings with numerous communities to discuss and progress our sustainability initiatives. As a result of these meetings, we acquired over 90 local merchants for the support initiative, which involves distributing conditional payments and measuring their impact on the students’ attendance.
We’re very pleased to announce that a further 10 additional iMlango schools in Uasin Gishu County are now live with attendance monitoring, and that all schools can now access the Literacy Quiz on the learning platform.
The Community Internet Sustainability Initiative trial at the Arthi River Primary School, which provides Wi-Fi access to the wider community, has been very well received and we’re currently seeing the community consume 10GB per day on their own devices.
Lastly, we were delighted to welcome the Sustainable Rural Growth Development Initiative (SRGDI), a non-governmental organization from Malawi, at one of our schools in Kajiado County, where they were able to see students access the learning platform and attendance monitoring in action. It was a pleasure to host them and we look forward to their next visit.
Until next time,
The iMlango team