Nicola Burns is an Irish volunteer who recently has returned from a trip to Kenya having volunteered in a girls rescue centre with CARA Projects. While on her travels, Nicola visited a Camara Education school and she recounts her experience below:
A family friend put me in touch with John Fitzsimons, CEO of Camara Education. I have to admit that my knowledge of Camara was quite limited, however I was eager to see what other projects were happening within the area. I had heard the name before and not a whole lot more and I was really unsure what to expect. Having been out to other schools in Kenya and Malawi and seen other initiatives in different regions, I was curious to see what affect Camara were having in the community here and must say I was astounded by the programme they have put in place.
Camara have developed the most incredible system by introducing technology and PC’s into schools and it is such a wonderful initiative. In other schools I had the privilege of visiting, resources are limited and getting children and teachers alike to actually attend school can be a real challenge. This was not the case at Kibiko Primary School in which Camara are working with. The children were so engrossed in their work and I was surprised at how they were able to navigate the computers with great ease. In Ireland it wouldn’t be such a surprise to see a child pick up a tablet and complete almost any task, but in a society where technology has not yet taken over, it was extremely impressive. I had presumed the computers had been there a long time as they were so comfortable using it, I was surprised to learn just how recent they actually were.
Selling the idea of a computer to a child to me is not the difficult part, getting the teachers to see that you are there to support them rather than replace them, is something I believe to be a real challenge in the region. However, the teachers were even more enthralled in the programme and the benefits it could offer them. This is a credit to the team at Camara, in terms of ICT training provided to teachers and their on-going support to the schools, they have shown a great commitment to improving educational standards for the students. When a teacher could have 150 students in a class who don’t always have copybooks or pens, it is a huge challenge to pick up on who is struggling in what areas. However, the teachers are able to utilise the software successfully and demonstrated to us how the programme allows them to see what area of maths each student is excelling in or what area they are struggling most with. It provides them with a deeper insight that they would not normally get within a standard classroom and their teaching practices benefit immensely because of it. Our point of contact for the day, Ephantus, was extremely knowledgeable and able to talk about Camara without any hesitation or doubt about his answers. He spoke with real passion and conviction, you could tell it is an organisation he is proud to work for and wholeheartedly believes in the mission of Camara.
I can only commend the work being done by Camara and was amazed to see the impact it is having on the local children here. I had only wished that when I was trying to do maths, I had such an incredible system to learn on too!