A while back I visited Ongata Ronkai Primary School with my family and friends in Kenya. The wonderful memories from the visit are still fresh in my mind.
Ongata Ronkai is a public school started in the year 1949 occupying an area of about 12 acres in Kenya. It’s classes are from Standard 1 to 8 with about 1,400 students. When i visited the school, it had no electricity and no water. Most of the students are from the Kware slum. Many who complete primary school have nowhere to go and cannot afford to further their education. We found that there are enough books and teachers but the challenges they faced were in food, sanitation, water, and electricity.
Recently i just received a progress report from the head teacher, Ms. Jane Kiruri, fondly known as Mama Sam. She included some wonderful pictures showing the water tank that they have now constructed using the funds we donated. My passion is technology integration, but when i visited Ongata Ronkai, i realized that we have to first meet the most basic needs before any progress can be made. Seeing the picture of the newly constructed water tank fills my heart with such joy, because now the children don’t have to suffer to get water while they are in school.
During the visit i was also fortunate to receive a generous donation from Hewlett Packard and they provided a brand new laptop to the school. We hoped that the school would be able to charge the laptop in the nearby town and then use it in the school during the day.
I am so happy to know that the laptop is being used to its full potential. In the words of the headteacher, “It has put our school on another level in terms of technology. We use it in communicating results to parents, communicating with the school management committee and other stakeholders, processing students marks, internal circulars and also accessing information for teaching the children.”
Plans to setup a full computer lab for all the children to use are in full swing. My hope is that we will be able to share ideas about technology integration as well as inspire children to consider careers and majors in science, technology, engineering and mathematics as these are the areas that i believe have the potential to secure our future success in the global race for discovery and innovation.