The Education department at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya continued as a PACE hub this year, and as such, hosted our partners from Kenya’s coast recently. Led by the LamCot programme manager, educators from nine primary and secondary schools traveled up country to get a taste of the innovative ways that schools around Lewa are using Conservation education to improve the quality of teaching and learning.
Many teachers find Kenya’s competency based curriculum challenging, but Lewa’s combination of digital classrooms and lots of practical activities works for teachers and students. It is definitely an example to share. The visitors went to two schools, Ntalabany and Rugusu primaries. Ntalabany showed us how they have made practical projects the centre of children’s learning, and Rugusu focused on how digital classrooms operate and integrate with the outdoor learning.
At Ntalabany primary the visitors saw that “the entire school has become members of the environment, now called 4K Club, and it seamlessly integrates with the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) through hands-on projects. We saw how use of PACE materials for this has equipped learners with theoretical and practical skills: tree planting, along the school fence and on the compound, and cultivating vegetables under screen shade are all driven by the 4K Club, and well supported by the school administration. We learned that their success is very much based on collaboration, with internal stakeholders but also the parents, community and government. The club is even registered with the Ministry of Livestock and Agriculture Development.”
At Rugusu we were in awe of the primary students’ confidence and skills. “Ntalabany Primary School was an inspiring example of how environmental education can transform the learning experiences of students and the communities they belong to. The students showcased the Kolibri software, and their digital classrooms. They showed us how they use the software for daily classroom learning, project-based learning and even without the immediate presence of a teacher, and all aligned with the curriculum set by the Ministry of Education and the Cabinet Secretary. They also use it during free time, accessing simulations, and games, for exam revision, obtaining action sheets and educational videos from PACE. Using their individual tablets, learners showed us how they log in with their usernames, and accessed class assignments, quizzes, interactive learning activities. It gives them access to a wealth of environmental and conservation content, and offers theory and action sheets to facilitate project activities such as mulching, composting, and contour farming. They even used tablets to record data, including photos of their practicals outside the classroom. Because Kolibri functions offline, there is no need for an internet connection as long as the school has power and a local network. This is a key issue in our schools on Lamu.”
We noted that the Digital classrooms have hugely facilitated the learning and use of PACE materials, and benefit club patrons and members. It makes Environmental education more accessible and effective for learners, and for communities. It allows learners to independently engage in learning and quizzes without the constant presence of a teacher, allowing them to develop skills and self-motivation over time.
“At the Lewa Education Centre we visited the exhibition rooms and Digital Literacy lab. The exhibition rooms made a huge impact, the displays evoked strong emotions in all of us, simple but such vivid exhibits that were captivating, exciting for us as adults, and perhaps something LamCot might be able to do on Lamu so that we can take our students to visit. It really reinforced the importance of wildlife conservation. In a session with the Digital Literacy team we then saw how building our digital skills and organising equipment that we already have would make our work as educators easier and more effective. They demonstrated the practicality and effectiveness of incorporating digital tools and resources in education alongside practical experience. It was a whole new style of conservation that we experienced.”
After these insightful classroom sessions, we went on a game drive, it was a privilege to see such a magnificent array of wildlife. We had first-hand experience of the interconnectedness of ecosystems and the delicate balance required maintaining wildlife populations. It was truly a remarkable opportunity, witnessing these magnificent creatures in their natural habitats.
The visit was a fantastic learning experience, for all those involved – for PACE, the hosts and visitors. Follow-up is already well progressed, with a focus on finding realistic routes for those on Lamu to adapt what they have seen and discussed in their own schools, their own approach to teaching and community outreach back home on the coast.