In the 21st century, access to information is one of the most important resources that any individual can have. This is especially important when it comes to education and learning. However, in Kenya and specifically in Laikipia, this is frequently not possible. Sometimes, even accessing proper classrooms is a problem for students in rural Kenya, let alone getting access to the internet.
Over the years, Ol Pejeta has worked tirelessly to promote education in the communities surrounding the conservancy. This has been done via infrastructure development in schools, the distribution of equipment/stationery as well as provision of scholarships for bright and needy students. The world over, the integration of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in education is becoming commonplace. As a conservancy, we recognize the tremendous potential that ICT has to help in furthering education within our local communities. This led us to begin an ICT programme aimed at furnishing local schools with all the necessary infrastructure to harness the infinite educational opportunities of the internet.
Since the inception of the ICT Programme we have managed to distribute 120 desktop computers and 120 Windows Notebooks to the 12 community schools we support. In May 2016, we brought in a Teacher Support Officer, Nicholas Njogu, to ensure that the students’ and teachers’ digital literacy needs are met. Nicholas also makes weekly follow-up trips to the schools to train both teachers and students on optimal use of the ICT facilities and to offer maintenance services.
A typical school kit comprises of 10 desktop and 10 Notebook computers, a pico projector, speakers and an ARES (African Ruggedised Education System) box. The equipment provided takes into account the fact that some of the schools that we are working with are very remote with little access to electricity, so have specialised charging facilities and long battery life. The pico projectors can work for two hours without being connected to mains electricity and the ARES Box can be used for eight hours offline. An ARES Box is a specialised server preinstalled with educational information relevant to the local curriculum that also enables internet access for research.
Some of the partners who have been essential to the successful rollout of the ICT Program are Afretech Aid Society, Vulcan and the Alan & Nesta Charitable Settlement.
Since the introduction of the ICT programme in schools, we are glad to report that there has been a significant improvement in the performance of the students in mathematics and the sciences. Access to information on the internet has also helped enhance the research capabilities of students especially those in our Butterfly Effect Programme. This programme is aimed at inducing in students a culture of critical thinking and helping them come up with ingenious solutions to some of the contemporary societal challenges we face.