Bridging the digital divide with free online training
There are many barriers to receiving an education in Kenya. About one third of Kenyan children don’t enrol in high school for financial reasons, and online learning is prohibitively expensive; the average course costs 1,000 Kenyan shillings ($12) to download, which translates to a week’s wages for half of the population. This digital divide is even worse for girls, who are largely unrepresented in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) fields.
Two brothers, Jay and Mick Larson, who had spent years travelling and teaching, wanted to help by founding the Tunapanda Institute, which means ‘we are planting, we are growing’ in Swahili.
At first they loaded a hard drive with free software that contained Wikipedia articles, both in English and in Swahili, as well as programming and language courses. They could legally gift the hard drive to any school who could use it to teach their students for free.
While this was a productive first step, the brothers realised that simply dumping software onto a hard drive had its limitations, and developed their own training courses, as well as a number of open-source programs that could be modified by teachers for their own purposes.
Tunapanda Institute currently delivers a 3-month intensive learning experience in technology, design and business, which gives students crucial skills that can act as an alternative to a high school diploma.
The Institute also has a permanent home in Kibera, Nairobi, where workshops are provided for girls to learn STEM subjects, and for anyone to access free courses on the resident computers.
To date, over 100 young people have graduated from Tunapanda Institute, and 85% of them have gained meaningful employment as a result. The Institute’s operations are currently fully crowdfunded. Contribute at www.tunapanda.org
Image courtesy of Tunapanda
Last updated: 12th of September, 2016