Sunday Nation October 14th, 2014
My essay on technology won me a laptop
As Standard One pupils eagerly await the government to honour its promise to issuethem with laptops, Rhoda Agula is among the ﬁve lucky pupils who have already received theirs. This is after the 14-year-old student from Kwa Njenga Primary School in Nairobi emerged the winner in the recently concluded 2014 Digital Essay Competition.
The competition, which ran under the theme ‘Tunaenda Digital’, targeted primary schools from all the 47 counties where they were required to write an essay on how the use of technology would impact their education.them with laptops, Rhoda Agula is among the ﬁve lucky pupils who have already received theirs. This is after the 14-year-old student from Kwa Njenga Primary School in Nairobi emerged the winner in the recently concluded 2014 Digital Essay Competition.
According to the Ministry of Education and digital content publishing company E-Kitabu, who jointly sponsored the programme, the competition was meant to challenge schools on their readiness to go digital. Additionally, they wanted the pupils to communicate their ideas and wishes for the ‘One Laptop per Child’ programme that the government intends to launch. Speaking to the ‘Young Nation’ a week ago when she was declared the winner during the Nairobi International trade fair, Rhoda said she least expected it. “I am overjoyed for winning this award,” she said. “I have never won anything in my life and to win a laptop as the very ﬁrst prize is overwhelming.”
The judges said her essay showed an indepth understanding of what technology entails and a deep yearning for the government laptop project to roll out. If the contents of her essay titled ‘Technology in my Education, Dream or reality’, are anything to go by, Rhoda passes oﬀ as a tech savvy girl who knows a lot about computers.
Interestingly, the closest she has come to computers is seeing one at the oﬃce of her headmistress or on the display windows of computer shops in town. Her family of nine siblings lives in a two-roomed house in the middle of Mukuru Kwa Njenga slums in Nairobi and they don’t own a computer.
Additionally, Kwa Njenga Primary School which she attends only has one computer that is used by the headmistress. She wrote her essay and submitted it to her Class 7 East teacher Jennifer Mukari to scan it at a cyber café before emailing it to the judges as being a digital competition; all entries were to be sent by email. Writing entirely from her imagination she balanced between the positive and negative impacts that technology can have not only on education but in the country as a whole. In the introductory paragraphs, she defined what technology is and then proceeded to give a brief history of how people started using technology from the early ages.
“People started using technology by converting natural things into simple tools like stones, weapons and the discovery of ﬁre which changed the whole world,” she wrote. However, her essay dwelt a lot on the possibilities that the introduction of computers to aid in learning would have to pupils in public schools who cannot even afford enough textbooks forcing them to rely on those provided by schools.
She wrote on how it would make it possible for pupils to access books and how the cost of operations for schools will be reduced. She also included a diagram showing how the content of several books could be shrunk to ﬁt in a single ﬂash disk that ﬁts easily in a pocket.
This, she said, was from her own experience as a girl living in a slum. “In our class, the teacher gives us one textbook per every six pupils and sometimes we get into arguments on who will go home with the textbook. “If homework has been given and you need the book you are forced to go to your class mates house at night and walking through the slums alone in the dark is not a good thing as you may meet bad people out to rape you,” she explained.
Her class teacher Ms Mukari said as a consequence the performance of pupils in the school is below average and pupils hardly do their homework due to lack of books.
“In a class of 70 pupils, you get that it is only one who owns a textbook and the rest rely on the school to provide learning materials. This aﬀects the performance,” she said. However, because of her creativity, Rhoda will not have to walk through the dark alleys of Kwa Njenga at night to borrow textbooks as the laptop she won has been installed with the oﬃcial school curriculum from the government and approved textbooks for her to use.