The Open Space Literacy (OSL) project is part of SOS Children’s Villages ICT4D (Information and Communications Technologies for Development) initiative. The project makes technology available to teachers and students in disadvantaged communities. The technology is then integrated into lesson plans to create a more hands-on learning experience to inspire motivation among the students. The result is a more effective learning experience for the children.
Schools involved in the literacy project are now equipped with computer rooms and other ICT facilities. Teachers involved undergo extensive training on multimedia and creating interactive lesson plans. 75% of teachers in the programme now use digital methods alongside more traditional teaching methods in their classrooms. Community members are also benefiting from the Open Source Literacy project. The project encourages local residents and community stakeholders to take a more active role in school governance and familiarise themselves with the literacy lessons and the technology involved. So far, nearly 19,000 people from the communities beyond the schools have benefited from the project.
The project was launched last year in 25 schools in Nairobi, Kenya. A recent review has shown that students, teachers and community members are indeed benefiting from the new initiative and there are plans to implement it in a further 300 schools across the country over the next few years.
“The schools are actively participating in the project, creating strategies and promotion activities for its sustainability, as well as contributing to sustain OSL through securing rooms for the devices, donating furniture and contributing financially with what they can," said Daniel Oloo, ICT4D Coordinator at SOS Children’s Villages Kenya.
The benefits of digital classroom tools
Interactive learning with digital tools has many advantages for children and their teachers. Children are able to access lesson plans in multiple languages on computers or mobile phones. Children are able to learn at their own pace in a one-to-one environment with the digital device. The technology is able to recognise the child’s learning ability and allows for feedback which eliminates certain challenges for teachers in crowded classrooms. Teachers are able to track a child’s progress and continue adapting their teaching style to be as effective as possible.
A recent study from Women Educational Researchers of Kenya discovered that children in the OSL programme demonstrated higher rates of literacy compared to students not involved in the programme. The students were able to correctly read, on average, 41.44 more words than the other students.
The study also found that the schools with access to technology had higher rates of attendance. The interactive approach to OSL helps to keep children engaged in the classroom, motivated to learn and feel accomplished with their progress.
Tom Were, National Director of SOS Kenya, explains that the programme is especially beneficial for younger children.
“Effective early years learning is one of the biggest educational challenges in the country that affects our children," says Mr. Were. "OSL is a holistic approach towards attaining quality education with the use of ICT and the first results show it's having a real impact. We're looking forward to scaling it to more schools across Kenya."
OSL has been incorporated into one SOS School in Nairobi in addition to the 25 public schools in the region. SOS Children’s Villages is operating Open Source Literacy in conjunction with Plan International and national partners.
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