We get ushered in to a rural class of approximately 100 students. Kyamulendu Primary School is a mixed government school, with a teacher student ratio of 1: 70. By mixed we mean there are boys and girls together.
The teacher, Ms. Winfred welcomes us to her class and introduces us to her students. The class 7 students reply thunderously, “Good afternoon visitors welcome to Kyamulendu”.
“By a show of hands, how many here have used Eneza’s mobile learning product?” teacher Winfred asks her class. More than three quarters of the class raise their hands. “Who would like to tell us how to register on the learning platform?”
Many students raise their hands to get a chance at answering the question. There are some pupils in the class who are more silent. Teacher Winfred is aware of this, “Isaiah, could you tell us how you learnt to use mobile phone to learn?”
Isaiah Nzioka is a shy boy. When he speaks, you have to listen keenly; else you might lose what he’s saying. The other students are still talking in low tones, making it difficult to hear what Isaiah is saying. “Silence!” teacher Winfred yells. What follows is a pin drop silence that allows Isaiah to share his mobile learning story.
“I started using Eneza Mobile learning two years ago when I was in class five”, he says. The boy is not only shy, for a 13 year old; he also has a small frame. One would guess he was two years younger. We leave the class to talk to this boy, away from distractions.
The wind blows into the arid atmosphere sprinkling speckles of brown dust on us. It blows my notepad away with it into the dusty, barren playing field and has it landing on a patch of dried grass. I run after it making Isaiah laugh. After our small incident, we find a spot to sit under a bare acacia tree and go on with our conversation.
“The head Teacher introduced a mobile learning platform to us in 2014”, Isaiah says. She told us that we could get lessons and questions through the mobile phone at 10 shillings weekly”, he adds. Isaiah, who had been academically struggling, saw the opportunity of getting extra tutorials at the cheap price of less than GBP £0.08 weekly.
With the 2003 introduction of Free Primary Education in Kenya, the teacher student ratio in many government schools increased to 1:100. This meant that timid students like Isaiah, could easily be overlooked. They would most likely not get a chance to ask questions and therefore struggle academically.
Isaiah told his mother of the mobile tutor. As expected, his mother was skeptical about it. “Is there such a cheap tuition?” she asked. Only after their head teacher, Winfred, called a parents’ meeting and explained how to use Eneza mobile learning, did the parents embrace it.
What does Isaiah like in the mobile learning platform? “I love Ask-A-Teacher”, he says with a smile. Ask-A-Teacher is a chat feature, which students use to ask questions to teachers and get answered in less than 15 minutes. Students like Isaiah who are too timid to ask questions in class, benefit from this feature most.
We decide to drive to Isaiah’s home to talk to his mother. During 10 minute the drive, he continues to tell us his experience using the mobile phone as a learning tool.
Before learning on Eneza Mobile Learning platform, Isaiah was an average student scoring about 260 marks out of 500 in exams. “I hated Mathematics, especially fractions and decimal places”, he tells us. “I now get 340 out of 500 marks in my exams”, he adds.
“Every day after doing my homework, I spend 2 hours on the mobile phone, taking quizzes and lessons”, Isaiah says. “Other days I retake the lessons I didn’t understand and failed”, he explains. According to our dashboard, Isaiah takes 20-30 quizzes daily, and sometimes, appears in the top 10 most active users.
The distance from school to his home is a 10 minute bumpy drive. For Isaiah, he usually walks for 45 minutes to get to school. We arrive to a brick house sitting in a clearing surrounded by shrubs. We are ushered into the house by his mother, who is a small scale trader at the local market. Today she is at home since it is not market day.
Isaiah uses his mother’s phone to access the mobile learning platform. We got to talk to his mother, to get her perspective. “At least now I don’t have to worry about my children failing to attain the grades to qualify for the next class”, Nduku Nzioka, Isaiah’s mom says. Her daughter Ndanu also uses Eneza mobile learning to study.
“The good thing with this mobile learning is that my children get explanations on their answers, whether right or wrong”, Nduku says. “It encourages them to improve on whatever subject they are learning”, she adds.
Isaiah wants to be a Journalist when he grows up. Teacher Winfred attests to the fact that his grades have improved. “His compositions have improved and social studies grades have risen from 40-70%”, she says.
Isaiah’s advice to other students, “You better start using Eneza Mobile learning to be promoted to the next class”.
About the author
Juliet Otieno is the Brand and Social Media Lead at Eneza Education. She is trained in journalism and Public Relations and is a blogger who likes to play with words.