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Innovating in teacher training

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NairoBits uses ICT as a tool to help young people escape the slums of Nairobi. Market demands in ICT change rapidly. NairoBits therefore draws on its relations with stakeholders – alumni and companies – to find out how its training can be improved and kept up to date. It holds annual sessions to align its trainers’ skills with market demand. Read more to find out how this results in better training and improved student-trainer interaction.

Key words:

  • Creative
  • Innovative
  • Transforming
  • Dynamic
  • Youth Friendly

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‘We must harness the potential of the youth of our age if sustainable development is to be made a reality.’ (Maurice Ongala, Social Entrepreneur)

Activities

NairoBits holds frequent meetings with its stakeholders. Alumni and the hiring companies give valuable feedback to NairoBits regarding the training offered and improvements needed. NairoBits uses this feedback to arrange training for the trainers (ToT) in its team in the various areas that have been identified. New skills have been developed and existing skills improved in the following areas: training methodologies, soft skills, programming languages, film and 3D animation.

Stakeholders

  • Trainers: receive training in response to market demand. The ICT sector is very dynamic and the market grows every day. Future ICT trends in Kenya are unpredictable, and the only way to respond to these dynamics is to be alert and constantly evolve to adapt to market demands.
  • Alumni: give feedback on how training could be improved. The alumni feedback is achieved through alumni forums held twice a year. The alumni interact with the trainers on the students’ performance and improvements that the trainers could make. They are also invited as guest lecturers on topics relevant to the labour market.
  • Business partners/companies: give feedback on the skills needed in the market. This is achieved through a round table forum, where the partners interact with the trainers and also learn from each other on market trends.

Resources

This event is planned and held at the beginning of each year. NairoBits plans at least four ToT sessions with its trainers (based on the previous year’s findings).

  • Time: 3 years.
  • Equipment: computers, up-to-date design & development software.
  • Skilled trainers.
  • Labour market specialists.
  • Financing: 10,000 euros per year.

Results

  • Improvement of trainers’ training and presentations.
  • More partnerships.
  • Institutional sustainability: by building the capacity of its trainers, NairoBits ensures that the institution is sustainable by passing on relevant skills to its beneficiaries.
  • Improvement of training methodologies and teacher-student interaction in class. This happens during the ToT sessions, where trainers improve the methodologies they use for training. As a result, trainers use methods that are more interactive and involve more student participation.

Lessons learned

What works really well?

  • Partners’ engagement in improving the curriculum. NairoBits work with partners and stakeholders to ensure that the skills developed are relevant to the labour market. Engaging business partners in training has worked well, because they are players in the market and their feedback on the training has really improved the training content.
  • NairoBits’ involvement with its alumni. The alumni are part of the system, because they have undergone training in the institution as students. They can give objective feedback based on their knowledge of the institution and the skills that they need in the labour market.

Recommendations

Get stakeholders more involved with training, because one organization cannot do everything on its own.

Project sheet Nairobits

Summary

NairoBits uses ICT as a tool of change for youth to escape the slums of Nairobi.

Short facts
Sector: ICT
Lead partner: NairoBits Trust
Overall budget for the project: € 809,190
Learn4Work contribution: € 250,000
Partner contribution: € 559,190
Implementation period: July 2013- December 2015

Vicious Cycle

Kenyan economy is booming, which propels employment. Annually 500.000 Kenyan boys and girls enter the job market, of which 25% will find formal employment. But youth from the slums is heavily underrepresented in the labour market. Education is key in finding a job, and slums generally lack good schools. Often only few children, and even fewer adolescents, go to school. They do not have the skills the private sector demands. Their dropout rates are high. It is no surprise that the majority of the urban unemployed lives in these slums. A vicious cycle of poverty that is hard to break: no schooling, no job. And no job, no schooling for their children.

Digital Design School

NairoBits found a solution to break this chain. NairoBits sets the pace in innovation and ICT. It is a digital design school where young people from Nairobis slums are trained as web designers and cultural entrepreneurs. The organisation equips the youth with knowledge in web design, IT skills, creative multimedia and entrepreneurship in order to improve their opportunities to find a job. Subjects like work attitude, developing self-esteem and general life and social skills are part of the curriculum, too. Students also learn practical skills through internships with Kenyan ICT companies. The initiative has been very successful. So far, more than 75% of former NairoBits students finds a job after their internships.

Feeding their Families

Through the additional funding by this project, NairoBits can train an extra 750 people, (50-50 male-female), on ICT. Within three months after their graduation at least 75% should have a stable job. And there is more. One of the most striking results is that the salary of a NairoBits alumni on average feeds 10 people. Younger siblings, the new generation, benefit as well. Their vicious cycle is broken.

Beyond Borders

The organisation itself also seeks to professionalise. Trainers, for example, participate in an exchange programme with The Netherlands, to broaden their technical and creative horizon, learning from the Dutch ICT sector. And this knowledge is shared beyond the Kenyan borders, since NairoBits is part of a bigger organisation, with ‘Bits’ branches in other countries. All Bits branches are connected through an online learning platform. Ultimately some NairoBits trainers will become trainers in other Bits branches and help setting up new ones.

Public Private Partnership

This project is a productive collaboration between public and private partners. The 30 ICT companies that NairoBits works with play an important role. They provide NairoBits with up to date information on what is new and needed in the Kenyan ICT sector, offer internships, take part in the curriculum review and even act as guest teachers during the training. Butterfly Works is an NGO that coordinates the connecting and learning processes from the different Bits branches in various countries. They also organise the annual exchange between NairoBits trainers and the Dutch ICT company Noblestreet.

Other Contributing Partners:

Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT), Ogilvy Kenya Limited, Digital Divide Data, Jabez Design Studio Limited

Bits Academy consists of three consecutive courses. Each course starts with an introduction, after which the students take part in intensive lessons and work on projects:

  1. Getting Connected – An introduction to computers, the Internet and design
  2. Digital Garage – An exploration of the world of digital design and development
  3. Media Lab – A specialized course in digital design and development

Each course provides students with a toolbox of knowledge, skills and attitudes to enter the digital media and design job market. This toolbox covers four components: creative skills, digital tools, business skills and social skills.

  1. ‘NairoBits has made me into someone who does not get intimidated by anything, someone who will do anything to give her family the life she wishes she’d had. To give her family the home she always wanted for them, to see her brothers join the best university and high school that she never had the privilege to join. To see her baby brother and sister have the best childhood.’ (Susan Wangari, NairoBits alumnus)
  2. ‘I am no longer disadvantaged’ (Tosh Juma, NairoBits alumnus)



NairoBits Trust

P.O. Box 2278- 00200
Nairobi
Kenya
Website: http://www.nairobits.com
Email: info[at]nairobits.com
Contact: Mrs Rukia Sebit

Jabez Design Studio Limited

Kenya
Website: –
Email: jabezgraphics207[at]gmail.com
Contact: Mr Jabez Simwa Nyikango

Digital Divide Data

Kenya
Website: http://www.digitaldividedata.org
Email: reydon.otonde[at]digitaldividedata.com
Contact: Mr Reydon Jakline Otonde

Digital Opportunity Trust

Kenya
Website: http://kenya.dotrust.org/
Email: kenya[at]dotrust.org
Contact: Mrs Robina Mwaura

Ogilvy Kenya Limited

Kenya
Website: http://www.ogilvy.com
Email: koome[at]ogilvy.co.ke
Contact: Mrs Margaret Wachira

Noblestreet

Netherlands
Website: http://www.noblestreet.eu
Email: helpdesk[at]noblestreet.eu
Contact: Mr Arnoud Goudsmit

Butterfly Works

Netherlands
Website: http://www.butterflyworks.org/
Email: inspire[at]butterflyworks.org
Contact: Mrs Hanja Holm