Laurier professors helping to bring literacy lessons to rural Kenya
WATERLOO -- A pair of professors from Wilfrid Laurier University are bringing lessons in literacy to rural Kenya through an adapted digital learning program.
Alexandra Gottado, a psychology professor at the school, says that children in the cities of Kenya are going online for their school easily, but that it’s a different story for those in remote parts of the African country.
“Kids in larger centres are receiving instruction through television and web-based instruction similar to what they are in Canada,” she said. “[For children in rural areas] all their technology was completely situation in schools, and when schools shut down, the children and the teachers had no access to that technology anymore.”
Gottardo and fellow Laurier professor Eileen Wood were in touch with teams from Concordia University, World Vision, and the Aga Khan Academies to adapt Abracadabra – a free digital English literacy software – into a paper-based format.
They’ve also been able to instruct teachers on the ground how to deliver the program to allow for kids to experience school from their homes.
Some of the lessons include teaching children names of letters, sounds and word patterns.
The pilot program was meant to teach only 10-15 children, but more than 100 kids of all ages have shown interest and allowed for the program to expand.
“It’s blossoming way beyond our expectations, it’s very exciting,” said Wood. “You have the teachers collect pebbles, and each of the pebbles has a letter painted on it. Instead of manipulating things on a screen you’re now moving pebbles to make words.
“We’re blown away regularly by the neat adaptations they are making to the circumstances they find themselves in.”