Kenya Village Voices: E-Learning in Kosirai, Nandi. Are you Joking?

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Kenya Village Voices: E-Learning in Kosirai, Nandi. Are you Joking?

Children are at home in the village. This is great news for parents who need children to help on the home front. This reality usually is recognized as a hazard to learning by organizations such as Save the Children since children that are kept home most likely will be put to work, doing chores instead of learning. For those who live in areas with no running water in the home, children are a great help because they can be sent to the river to fetch water. Not only to the river, but to the shops or to join the mothers to do gardening, and some to go with their mothers to do vibaruas.

“I have never touched a computer,” one village parent said. Another parent near my village in Machani argued that her children have never seen a computer. I am talking about villages that are relatively close to some form of civilization. Imagine those children in Malanga, Kilifi.

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If you have never been to Malanga, Kilifi, it is a very ‘native’ place. Native in that it represents the best of natural Kenya. Take the road towards Kilifi, which if the potholes have been repaired, could be a beautiful drive after you pass the town of Mpeketoni. Mpeketoni represents what is wrong with Kenyan development. It is a chaotic town with the main road passing through it. Matatus, boda boda, tuk tuks, and a constant sea of humanity selling plastic stuff from China, sweating from Coast heat in a town with chaotic planning, meaning no city planning. After that, it is a village ride through an area with small Coast houses with a touch of Miji Kenda culture. You drive through a large Sisal farm in some estate that rich Kenyans have built for themselves to stay away from the ‘smelly’ villagers.

You divert and drive through the Arabuko Sokoke national reserve towards the area they call Malanga. The Bishop of Mombasa and I stopped at an Africa Inland Church compound whose pastor runs the local AIC School. Pastor Joseph, who is blind, started the school, which is next to a church. The school is made of twigs supported by mud and a makuti roof. It holds about 100 kids. His three children attend school there. The teachers can barely survive with the poor salary but they are dedicated to teaching these children. Part of the roof is collapsing but that does not deter the children from coming every day to learn. They believe in the historic ideal that we were all taught that education will result in improving our lives. They plan to succeed and help their poor pastor father who cannot see that his mud house has a see-through hole. His wife is not able to tell him about that. She just deals with it.

From Joseph’s church and school compound we drive towards the town of Malanga. We are there to see the condition of the church clinic so that somehow we can know how to help. On arrival, we find a typical Kenyan clinic—a small compound with two or three buildings. At the entrance there are benches for those who are sick to rest and wait to be seen. Like always, mothers have brought their children who are suffering from malaria, flu, stomach issues, and other pediatric maladies. The fathers do not bring their children to the clinic, instead, they sit around together, waiting at the village under the coconut trees, struggling to survive in a town where there are no jobs.

The villagers prefer to come to this clinic because the government clinic is far worse. At least here they will be taken care of with gracious Christian compassion. The nurse practitioner takes us to the store to see what kind of supplies they have. We find the place full of boxes labeled Republic of Kenya and USAID. We inquire what is in the boxes and the nurse sarcastically tells us, “Condoms. As if the women outside need condoms. They need medicine!”

At Malanga Primary School, the buildings are not much better than the Africa Inland Church school. Nothing to show in the form of supplies. A common sight in Kenya. The children do not fair any better though. The teachers are dedicated but without supplies, they do what they can to teach the children. Kenyans believe in education and in every village and forest, there is a school. And the teachers are available. But they have no supplies of which they can speak.

Therefore, when Kenya news bimbos, whose faces are covered with makeup, and their male counterparts speak of e-learning in school from their television desks in Nairobi, the villager in Malanga must laugh out loud. E-learning? Rain is coming through the thatched roof of the school, the windows have no glass, the children cannot afford books, the chalk is in short supply, and the teachers are barely surviving on the small salaries they earn. How can you speak about e-learning. What e-learning? Even in America in places like Pencil Bluff, Arkansas, some country homes have no computers for children to use when they are supposed to be learning at home.

If the government schools do not have electricity, the teachers do not have computers, how do they do e-learning at home? Oh, I forgot, through imagination! The village children will have to dream on about e-learning at home in Kenya!

Teddy Njoroge Kamau (PhD)

HTBluff Associates

Diaspora Messenger Senior Columnist.

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