Learning in the time of COVID-19: Women Use Digital Skills to Educate Children IN Kenya
By Irene Sinoya, World Vision Communications Specialist, Kenya
Since schools were closed in Kenya due to COVID-19, Anne has been a busy woman. The 50-year-old mother of seven children juggles between doing household chores, running her business and home schooling her children.
“When schools are open, teachers do all the work. They teach subjects, give homework and mark them. But now I have to do all that by myself since I don’t want my children to forget about their studies,” she says.
Despite the different tasks competing for her attention, Anne notes that she is able to cope and achieve desired results - thanks to the Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) skills that she gained through World Vision’s Women and the Web project.
The initiative, which was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), helped to improve the digital literacy skills of over 5,000 women – such as Anne – at Matete in Western Kenya.
The knowledge acquired is helping women to effectively address education and unemployment challenges brought about by the coronavirus disease pandemic in Kenya.
“My children are at home now. But I am able to help them learn and study widely because of the ICT and web training that I got from the project,” she says.
Through her phone tablet, Anne has downloaded numerous e-learning applications that offer tutorials on different subjects that her children are pursuing in school.
According to Anne, She is also able to use the Internet to search for the meaning of words or concepts that her children might not be familiar with.
“I use my mum’s phone to do my homework. Initially, subjects like Science, Mathematics and English were difficult for me, but with my mum’s help, I have started understanding them”, says Obed, her 11-year-old son.
Sylvia, her 13-year-old daughter states: “Mama helps me study using her phone. I also play games when I am bored, “ she says while giggling.
Aside from boosting her children’s performance in school, Anne notes that the ICT skills that she acquired have also helped to expand her tailoring business, which is booming in spite of the coronavirus disease pandemic.
To keep up with new fashion trends, Anne usually downloads different cloth designs from the Internet. She then sews them and sells the trendy attires to customers.
With knowledge from the Internet, she has further expanded her services to include ornamental beading of items such as tablemats, key holders, handbags and multi-coloured beaded bowls.
Anne has also taught her children how to make simple beaded items such as necklaces and bracelets during their free time.
“This has enabled them to be more constructive and to use the free time they have wisely.”
“I used to do my work in an ordinary way. Now I don’t have to buy design charts. I just download free designs from the Web. I also watch tutorials on beading which has enabled me to come up with more beautiful items,” says Anne happily.
As many people struggle to market their products due to social distancing policies, Anne notes that technology has come to her rescue.
“I use the WhatsApp mobile applications to share designs with my customers in different towns such as Eldoret, Bungoma, Kitale, Busia and in Kakamega where I live. This has enabled me to get a lot of profit.”
Anne uses the income generated to buy food for her family and also purchase books, clothes and toiletries for her children.
She also uses her tailoring skills to sew masks for the needy people in her community at no cost.
“Many people in my community cannot afford to buy even a single mask. Since I am a tailor, I sew and distribute masks freely to them to protect them from getting COVID-19, ” she says
Anne confesses that before this valuable training, she lacked the knowledge of operating computers and smart phones.
“Initially, I didn’t know how to boot a computer or operate a smart phone. I would get scared whenever I stepped inside an office that had a computer. Today I can operate any smart phone without difficulty”, she says.
She has since taken it upon herself to train other women on ICT skills so they can also use the knowledge to help their children to study amidst the COVID-19 pandemic that is affecting countries globally.