The Star (Nairobi)

4 December 2012

Kenya: Electronic Books and Kindles Transform Education in Trans Mara

Learning has become easier for the pupils of Intimigom Primary School in Trans Mara since the introduction of e-book readers and kindles. The project is the brainchild of the Kilgoris Project President Caren McCormack. It was launched in 2008.

The primary school, which was started in 2008, has pupils up to class four, with all the pupils from nursery school being taught how to use the kindles which have replaced the normal text books used in Kenyan schools.

The Kilgoris project director David Lemiso said each kindle can hold up to 3,000 books and a pupil can therefore use it from primary school to the university level successfully.

Lemiso said the World Reader first piloted the programme at a high school in Ghana before coming to Kenya where Intimigom primary school was privileged to be the first primary school to use the kindles.

"The World Reader collaborated with Kenyan publishers to digitise the text books used in Kenyan schools and different story books besides training our staff for two weeks on how to use the kindles in teaching the pupils," said Lemiso.

Lemiso said the Kilgoris project invested a total of $ 15,000 (Sh1.28 million) in the kindles and e-books initiative. Plans are underway to add some more since the school is undergoing expansion and is expected to grow to class five next year.

He said the e-books are less expensive compared to the printed books. He said since one device can hold very many books it will be a good investment for parents and pupils in other schools to start using them.

"With the e-books, we will reduce the cases of books getting lost or worn out and the pupils carrying many books to school as it is the case with the printed books as each pupil will just require one kindle which will last the entire school life," Lemiso said.

He said Intimigom has 100 kindles which are used by the 200 pupils and their teachers. Pupils in various classes use the devices alternately. If all goes well, every pupil and teacher will get a kindle.

The kindle has a start button and a five-way controller where you open the device, then scroll and search for a book you want using its title. You then go to the page you want. The device has a dictionary which assists pupils to understand difficult words.

"When we want books installed in the kindle we liaise with the World Reader who get in touch with the publishers who ensure that we have them but it is also possible for one to purchase a book via the Safaricom-linked internet network," said Lemiso.

He added that the e-book reader is convenient for use in rural schools with no electricity as the device, if well used, can store power for up to three weeks before it can be recharged .

Jennifer Leshao, a teacher at Intimigom, said the gadget has made teaching easier for them. She said teachers carry the kindles to class and when preparing for their lessons, they have a variety of teaching guides to help them.

She said the kindle has audio features that has helped pupils to improve their pronunciation of English words. Nursery school pupils enjoy seeing pictures which has created more interest in learning.

Leshao said since the introduction of the kindles, it has promoted the reading culture with most pupils opting to spend part of their short, lunch and games breaks to sit somewhere and read story books.

"Since the introduction of the kindles and the e-readers, the academic performance of our pupils has improved tremendously and we would encourage other schools in Trans Mara and other parts of Kenya to start using them," said Leshao.

Peter Korinko, a parent at the school, is all praises for the kindles and e-books project, saying he has saved a lot of money which would have been used in buying the printed text books.

He said the project has not only been beneficial to teachers and pupils of Intimigom Primary School but also to members of the surrounding community who have been taught how to use the kindles and e-book readers which they intend to acquire soon.

"We no longer have cases of pupils carrying a heavy load to school, neither do we have cases of pupils complaining of their text books having been stolen or worn out since the introduction of this marvelous gadget," said Korinko.

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