Digital CPD benefiting schools in Kenya
One of the joys of what we do is seeing the effect of our Teach2030 programme in schools around the world. Our Head of Education, Eleanor Sykes, was fortunate enough to be hosted by our partner, Kenya Connect, visiting three of their schools in rural Machakos County, south-east of Nairobi. The community is largely composed of small-scale subsistence farmers, with many household struggling to secure a regular income. November was very hot, with rains at least two months behind schedule, threatening farmers with the prospect of a poor crop.
Kenya Connect supports teachers and learners in over 60 schools with a range of programmes, from teacher professional development to wide-ranging health and hygiene initiatives, and technology classes. They have been using Teach2030 for six months now, in sessions led by the Kenya Connect team, with teachers using smartphones or laptops supplied by the charity. Eleanor visited Ngangani, Kisola and Maanzoni primary schools to chat to teachers, hearing about what they have enjoyed and learned from Teach2030, and what skills and strategies they are now using in their classrooms.
The welcome from each school was unique and extraordinary. All 300 or so pupils from Ngangani sang a ’Have a happy day’ to everyone, and Eleanor was roped into some fun dancing with a small person!
However, the serious stuff took place with the conversations with the teachers. Teach2030 courses are designed to bring sound pedagogy to teachers and schools, along with sensible, practical global techniques and strategies that are applicable for large classes with few resources. It is also intended to provide opportunities for teachers to work together and learn from each other. During the course of her visit, Eleanor observed a lesson and saw ‘Turn Talk’, a well-known technique covered in a Teach2030 course, introduced in practice before having the opportunity to discuss areas of strength and development with both the teacher and the Kenya Connect team afterwards.
In-school sessions are led by Kenya Connect’s Rebecca Migwambo (Professional Learning Community Coordinator) with the support of Patrick Munguti, (Director of Technology Education, and IT) and James Musyoka (Executive Director). Rebecca says:
‘There has been a noticeable gradual improvement of teachers digital skills and perception, from phobia to embrace, and from just tools to classroom utility tools! The incorporation of the basic technology skills is enabling fresh and creative lessons with learners looking forward to a new and engaged learning.’
Feedback from our community
One of the most useful and important elements when visiting a partner in-country is to understand the pain points – where are the challenges with using your product? Where would your community like to see improvements, something new or a change? There is no doubt that teachers generally prefer accessing online learning on a laptop, as opposed to a smartphone, mostly since it is bigger and easier to see. However, all teachers agreed that in the absence of a computer, being able to access content on their smartphone was useful and something that they had all engaged in more since first participating in Teach2030. Teachers would like more courses – this is also on our agenda, but we have been clear that we wanted to get our delivery model right, before investing in further course content.
One key piece of feedback was that many teachers feel an 80% pass rate for Teach2030 courses is too high, and it should be 60%. It is an interesting point and one worth exploring. The premise of Teach2030 is to bring high-quality, low-cost courses to teachers all over the world. The only way to keep it low-cost is to make it solely delivered digitally, without face-to-face interaction. Therefore, the only way we can be certain that teachers are completing the courses as they should, and learning from them, is to include an assessment that needs to be passed before gaining a certificate. However, we have decided to review the assessment questions, to make sure they are (i) clear and (ii) not unnecessarily hard. But we won’t be reducing the pass rate from 80%!
We are so grateful to the Kenya Connect team for being so kind as to host Eleanor for this fantastic visit – we learnt so much that we will put into good use in 2022. We look forward to our next meeting!
Our visit to Kenya highlighted the valuable role easy to access and high quality digital CPD can play for teachers working in lower-income communities and we’re always on keen to work with more schools and partners to provide this.