18 September 2013
Justus Omondi Olwande
Physics Teacher & ICT Ttrainer of Trainees, Dadaab Refugee Camps
Last year science teachers in Dadaab Refugee Camps secondary schools were privileged to attend an ICT workshop organized by Windle Trust Kenya, (a nongovernmental organization implementing secondary education for refugees in Daadab) in collaboration with The Kenya E-learning sector of the Kenya Institute of Education. It was a three day long interactive session, where all science teachers were trained on basic e-content development and what should comprise e-learning.
As a Physics teacher, I attended this training. I mean, I had to be present. It was a preparation for the already launched an ongoing Community Technology Access Program (CTA) -a program that aims to equip a few primary schools, all the secondary school s, and vocational centers with computers to aid in the integration of ICT in refugee education and e-learning. As one of the few teachers who had good grasp of ICT skills, I was later appointed as the focal point person,Haghadera Camp(one of the camps in the Daadab),to coordinate the development of e-content and implementation of e-learning amongst the teachers.
As I put down this article, I wish to state that I had a good understanding of ICT tools but rarely did I use them in my delivery of lessons. This was the reason: I thought integrating them in my lessons was a whole lot of work-a mind boggling activity that I could not be bothered with at all cost. I visited the Internet frequently, but did not know how useful it could be in assisting high school students understand basic abstract concepts, such as in Mathematics. So when this chance showed up, I said to myself, "my prayers have been answered!"
This training comprised of so many basic concepts relevant to teachers. What I found most interesting was how basic ICT tools, readily available at our disposal could be harnessed, put together and used to stimulate learners. One of them, which I shall never forget, was how to download educational videos from YouTube. I remember, after the training, downloading a video showing how to find the acceleration due to gravity using the pendulum method. I showed this video to my learners using a Laptop borrowed from a friend. This was the response, "teacher, can I bring a flash disc so that you copy that video for me?" Of course, I responded in the affirmative.
In more than one occasion talking to students, one discovers that a good number of them are aware of technology around them-computers, mobile phones and digital cameras among others. Teachers too have good grasp of ICT skills. But having these skills alone will not change the mode of curriculum delivery in Daadab from just realia based teaching to virtually-computer aided teaching. Teachers must be at the fore front to make ICT work in a classroom to aid delivery of content. As Nancy Kassebaum, U.S senator once said, "There can be infinite uses of the computer and of the new age technology, but if the teachers themselves are not able to bring it into the classroom and make it work then it fails."
It has reached a point in refugee education when ICT integration in education is not an option-it’s a must do for all teachers. I am foreseeing willingness from donors and implementing partners. As teachers, we should not allow ourselves to be bypassed by this train. For the refugees in Dadaab, the rumors that there would be introduction of computers in schools, if true shall be a life thrilling experience. The mode of provision of education for refugees shall change just as in other places. Let us brave forward to give this new idea its place in our hearts and minds.