The University of Nairobi visited Kambu on 31 July. The area has been hard hit by drought and famine, with the result that some students are forced to drop out of school, and people are concerned mainly with obtaining their next meal.
Prof. Waema donated a flash disk for transferring data to Silanga School. The school had also run out of credit for mobile internet access, and Prof. Waema donated Ksh 1000 for this purpose; the next payment will come from the school board.
No soil measurements have been done using the VeSeL soil sensor due to lack of rain - the soil is so dry there was concern that the soil sensor could not be inserted for fear of breakage.
Some teachers have been using the computer for preparing teaching materials and marking, as can be seen in recent postings on the school's blog. Prof. Waema suggested more training, including in Powerpoint.
Farmer group the Mtito Andei Initiative (MDI) will explore various sustainability plans, including charging to cover events with the digital camera and providing photocopying services.
The University of Nairobi (UoN) visited Kiangwachi on 30 July 2009 and met with the Karia farmer self-help group and teachers at Kiine Primary School.
The farmers have requested additional training in organic farming practices, and in computer skills such as MS Word and internet use. The group recruited two teachers for ICT training. Some farmers have already received training in Word and Excel, and will go on to train in Internet and email.
Due to persistent problems connecting to the mobile phone networks, the farmers have requested a fiber optic connection. As an interim they will be trained by the university to use mobile phones to access the internet at locations where the network is available, and the team will explore the purchase of WAP phones
'The school is located in a dry area were the people water the trees daily since we have no source of water.' Photo posted by teacher Leonard Mwang'ombe
Dan Orwa sends the following report:
24th October 2008 â€“ Silanga Primary School
Upon my arrival at 11:00 AM, I went straight to Silanga Primary school and met the headmaster and later on the teachers. The headmaster mentioned that they are very happy with the progress made by the teachers and the students regarding ICT, and once again thanked VeSeL for assisting the school with the equipment.
Dr Kahiu Ngugi of University of Nairobi sends the following report:
We met the Karia Self-help group and Kiine Primary school 9(headteacher, plus 2 teachers) on 4th, 5th and 6th July. We spent the first day discussing where they are at the moment and the problems that they have encountered. The ennthusiasm is still there - close to 20 members turned up - and the group has a full-time worker - Jane at their 'resource centre'. But they have had a couple of problems. Here are some of my own observations:
1. Network access-is still a big problem, they spend days trying to access internet to no avail, despite having changed the modem to Celtel. In fact during all the time we were there we did not acceess intenet at all. Our students Peter and James could only demonstrate their project on french beans on the mobile phone only!
2. Very little internet activities; on the PC- some emails sent locally; printing and typing not a problem
Dan Orwa of University of Nairobi sends the following report:
As you may have been aware, the UoN VeSeL team is currently visiting Kambu and Kiangwaci to folow up on the visit my Souleymanne in April. I am a Kambu since yesterday friday and here are some general observations:
We managed to talk to the teachers and the students as well and realized that majority of the teachers were happy to use and learn more about the Macbook. However the internet connection has been down and this was sorted out by Ngechu and the system is OK now. We were also informed that the solar panel does not seem to be able to charge the laptop, though it does charge
the dry cells for the camera and iPod. As an alternative, since most teachers stay at Kambu, they normally carry the laptop home and charge it overnight.
Two teachers, (Rose included of course!) and teacher Mwangombe are at the forefront of using the Macbook and are doing great. The school have been having problems downloading pictures from the camera. This has been solved as we came along with a multi-card reader which they are already using.
Through training and familiarization with equipment during the launch, members were able to perform simple tasks using the laptop, digital camera, iPod, desktop and printer. The large group of 20 members in the workshop were subdivided into groups of five each so as to effectively reach each individuals and have them actively participate in the training and hands on demonstration.
The trainers quickly concluded that the local Kikuyu language would best serve for training purposes. Despite the fact that a number were comfortable with English and several even better with Kiswahili, in order to accommodate all present, especially the very elderly, we found it necessary to switch to the Kikuyu language. The training was then conducted in Kikuyu since all the trainers were from Central Kenya area and spoke Kikuyu. This was very challenging for the trainers but exciting at the same time.
Training materials were developed by LKL and TVU, complemented by the 4th-year B.Sc. students of the University of Nairobi. In addition, the University of Nairobi team bought self-teaching CDs and examination materials for those who would like to improve their skills in ICT and get some qualifications.
The trainers were three 4th-year B.Sc. students and two M.Sc. (Computer Science) students of the University of Nairobi. The two M.Sc. Agriculture students provided needed support and learned at the same time. All the students had two weeks to familiarize themselves with the kit and to make all the necessary preparations for the training.
The UoN students created a local area network in the MDI office, with three desktop computers, one laptop and one printer. Additional patch cables were provided to connect other computers in future.
Dr. Kahiu Ngugi of the University gave feedback about previous visits and research progress, plus intended future progress, and every member was pleased. Key personalities from the community shared their joy with workshop attendants about the work being done to empower the community.
The group identified George Waweru who was to be trained, be placed in day to day operations of the office. The school head promised to identify two motivated teachers to be custodians of the facility under his guidance. The Assistant Chief assured the community of security of the area and mobilisation of other members and groups in the area to participate in effort to empower the community.
Four students from the University of Nairobi spent four days collecting data from Kambu and Kiangwaci (two students on each site). The students, one with ICT and the other with Agriculture background, collected information on factors affecting farmers on both sites and also on exposure and use of communication technologies within the two sites. The information has been coded and is currently being analyzed and initial frequency runs are indicating crucial information that can be used as inputs in the socio-technical evaluation matrices.