Malindi school where AI is an able co-teacher

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2023 08:00 | By
Students at the learning hub school in Malindi
Students at the learning hub school in Malindi. PHOTO/Print

An online platform is unlocking the potential of learners, reshaping the way education is delivered, accessed and experienced.

Last year, The Learning Hub School, located in the Kijiwetanga area, Malindi, Kilifi County, was introduced to CENTURY Tech.

The online platform uses Artificial Intelligence to teach and gauge the performance of the pupils.

The school initially started as an institution for vulnerable students from the Imani Children’s Home, an orphanage founded by Faith Wanjiru, popularly known as Mama Imani.

However, for sustainability, they recruited two-thirds of fee-paying students who cater to the Imani children’s home students’ scholarships and day-to-day operations.

The concept of a school for orphans resonated with the founder of CENTURY-Tech, Priya Lakhani who is of Kenyan descent but lives in the UK.

She provided them with free access to the platform to initiate its implementation at the school.

Faraj Nanzala, the teacher who is in charge of the CENTURY-Tech platform at The Learning Hub, says they were introduced to it in October 2022, and it has improved the performance of learners as they have more time to interact with the course work content.

“I would recommend the platform to other schools and any other educator,” he says

Nanzala says the platform individualises the learning process.

With the program, he says, the teacher does not need to walk around to mark assignments of students as the platform does the marking.

Initially, he says, they started with Grade Five class with 25 learners but due to the positive impact, they enrolled Grades Three, Four, Five, Six, and Seven.

“Every learner has got an account, and I can be accessed from home or any other place as long as I have a digital device and it is internet enabled,” he explains.

Since the introduction of CENTURY-Tech, most students have significantly improved their performance in the subjects the platform covers.

For Grades Three, Four, and Five, the subjects covered include Science, English and Mathematics, while in Junior Secondary, subjects available are Biology, Chemistry and Physical Health Education.

He says the students are doing better in subjects which are supported by CENTURY than those which teachers solely teach.

From hospital

Mama Imani, who runs Imani Children’s Home, says her children benefit a lot from CENTURY-Tech.

“As a mother, I am very proud of CENTURY-Tech because I have no issues with Homework nowadays. My children love to do their homework. As you can see, they are even happy to sit without pushing them,” she says.

Moreover, she says, there is no cheating using CENTURY as the gadgets can tell how a student is fairing.

Maxwell Imani is among the best performers despite spending months in Italy while on medication. While there, he could still use CENTURY to learn.

“When Maxwell was in hospital, I could monitor what he was doing. That’s why you can see the chart is up. He had a lot of time to do his work and he could do any work wherever he could unless he was in pain,” she said.

Maxwell, 12, says that with CENTURY-Tech, he is able to log in and do anything anyone can do despite him being physically challenged.

“We were very happy when CENTURY was introduced to our class. Now, I am able to do my assignments and learn directly from the platform,” he says.

Zosi Karisa, a Grade Five student at The Learning Hub, says that since the platform’s introduction, learning has become more interesting.

“Now I am doing digital skills application which helps me to understand about the digital world. It’s important because the world now runs on digital devices,” she says.

Karisa, who is ten years old, says CENTURY has reduced their workload and they do not have to carry heavy bags loaded with books when going home.

She says that digital skills and Science are her favourite subjects.

Karisa says CENTURY tech is good for learning and also fun, but that doesn’t mean it is taking over the role of a teacher as they have their role to play.

Slide shows

Her recommendation is for CENTURY-Tech to add more challenging questions.

Ferdinand Ochieng, a Grade Six student from Imani Children’s Home, says CENTURY has taught them more than what is being taught in class.

“The only problem with Century-Tech is that you have to be online to attend lessons,” he says, adding that he was introduced to the platform in January.

Ochieng says he has been able to learn more, particularly in Mathematics, English and Science and his performance had improved.

Montana Chemutai says CENTURY-Tech has helped her to improve in maths.

“I had challenges multiplying a big number. I would get confused while carrying numbers forward but I learnt more through videos, member cards and slide shows,” she says.

Chemutai says the platform should be adopted in other schools.

Jemima Asiago, the deputy headteacher of Learning Hub school, said she is happy with the Century Tech application as it has reduced her marking workload.

Currently, she gives assignments online and does not have to carry papers home. All she needs to do to check whether her students have done their assignments is turn on her laptop and log in.

“I do not have to carry papers home to mark assignments,” she says.

Alphonce Menza, the Learning Hub School manager, says the school was established seven years ago for Imani Children’s Home for orphans but they later found paying parents to sustain the project.

He says currently, they have 230 pupils out of whom 51 are from the orphanage, who are given scholarships, while the rest pay fees.

“Last year, we had the privilege of having our director meet the CEO of CENTURY-tech, Priya Lakhani, and they talked about the school in Malindi. The CEO thought it important to give the school the program as we were helping the underprivileged,” he says.

He says they rolled a pilot project and it was successful.

Menza says they have over 50 tablets, and some of the students have their own gadgets bought by their parents at home.

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