Kenya National Library Service / Nakuru Public Library has shared results of its interactive online learning programme which helped primary school children overcome their fear of maths and improve their grades in maths tests.
The project was launched with a small grant from the EIFL Public Library Innovation Programme (EIFL-PLIP) in 2016.
During regular visits to schools, librarians in the busy town of Nakuru in mid-western Kenya were alarmed to discover that children hated maths. Some children feared maths classes so much that they were considering dropping out of school.
To address this issue, the librarians worked with education officials, teachers and parents to design a programme of maths classes using Maths-Whizz, an online learning programme that is aligned with the Kenyan school curriculum. Because primary schools in Nakuru (as in many other parts of Kenya) do not yet have computers for students to use, classes took place in the library, which has 30 public access computers and broadband internet.
Many of the children had never seen or touched a computer before, and so before the children could learn to use Maths-Whizz, the library had to teach them basic computer skills.
‘My grades have miraculously improved’
Over 600 children from six schools attended maths and computer skills classes in the library. Librarians tracked performance of a small group of children who had been failing their tests, and found that after just nine months of Maths-Whizz classes, all were passing.
“I have conquered one of the greatest enemies in my life. I always believed that maths was one of the most difficult and complicated subjects. However after learning maths through the digital learning programme at the library, my grades have miraculously improved - from 30% to 84%. I have also learnt how to use a computer. My parents can’t hide their joy and this made them buy me a new dress,” Grace Gakenia, a student at Lakeview Primary School, told librarians.
The project changed children’s attitudes to maths. Every day children would run to the library after school to practise their maths. They also came on Saturdays, calling themselves the ‘Maths-Whizz champions’.
SUPPORT FROM ACROSS THE COMMUNITY
The library’s classes have won community-wide recognition and support - from enthusiastic students; from parents who now regularly bring their children to the library; from teachers who say that they have also learnt from Maths-Whizz and that it has improved their classroom practice, and from the Nakuru County Education Office.
Nakuru Public Library’s maths classes are continuing and expanding. After learning about the success of the classes, five more schools have signed up, bringing the number of schools the library is working with to 11.
Nakuru Public Library was one of 29 public libraries that took part in EIFL’s capacity building initiative for public librarians in Kenya, which trained librarians to develop new services that meet community information needs. Towards the end of the training, participants were invited to apply for matching grants to fund services that were developed using ideas and skills gained during training.