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Being a student in Kibera during COVID-19 | Her Perspective

We spent some time talking with Michelle about being a University student during a time of COVID-19. She shares her perspective with us here!

“The Corona Virus has made schools and Universities to close, this has forced us to shift from regular lessons to online learning via google conferences and virtual learning which am so grateful for. Not all colleges or Universities are offering lessons online, but where I attend at St. Paul’s University, they are. The good news is that I am almost done with one level in early August and I am planning to continue the next level in September. I do miss the normal learning sessions in the classroom, I miss the friends I made there, lectures with Professor in person, one on one opportunity, and sometimes it’s hard to get in class when the network is bad. The online learning environment is a challenge being that I come from Kibera where noise is a normal thing here. It is not always possible to have immediate access to a quiet place to log in to listen to the lessons and concentrate on my work at home, but I am able to use the Angaza Project location whenever I need to. The use of data for online learning is a point of concern for so many, but my University provides it for the students. The only drawback is that it works ONLY on the virtual learning portal and if the class is not attending then it means I miss the lesson of that day. I have a laptop as part of my Shining Brighter Scholarship. This week we have been doing assessments or tests and its going well. On my last grade report submitted, it was exciting to submit the University form that showed *with honors* on my scores!

When it comes to the High Schools, there are some within Kenya also offering online learning but not all communities can access this, especially in Kibera. And when the tools (computer access or a cell phone with internet capability) is available, the data usage becomes an added expense, making it impossible for families. Not all the children can equally access education during this time. So what we see happening is tutoring with the local teachers, informally. We see organizations stepping up to offer spaced out seats, giving masks and keeping groups to a few. So many organizations are doing this informally and within the guidelines of the Ministry of Health recommendations for learner engagement. With the communities beginning to open back up slowly and churches being able to meet with restrictions and public transport being available again, programs are working slowly and in line with the MOH. Here at The Angaza Project, we now have the girls in small (up to 6), spaced, masks required (which we provided) groups for tutoring on different subjects for two hours on days throughout the week and we also engaged a publisher (Peer) that is approved to engage communities by the KICD. Miss Anne and her team come each week and cover health based lessons for the girls using their government approved texts they gave our girls for free, to also keep. Our Founder, Jennifer, has known Anne for quite some time now and its been so helpful to our program in this community. Anne is a busy lady from being on television interviews for her work on these topics, but we love that she gives us atThe Angaza Project her time and care on our health!

Our High School status has been updated the other week and the schools will remain closed the remainder of 2020 with a plan to re-open in January 2021 for a fresh school year. Our school years operate January to December here in Kenya so the schools will be allowing the students to start the grade again. This will be beneficial for many, but just as much harmful for others when there are Form 4 girls who were excited to complete and graduate High School in December. We have four of those girls in Form 4 here at The Angaza Project and they feel disappointed. The good thing here is that they have our support, they are connected with others in our program and they are accountable for their education. They are committed to start Form 4 again and finish strong. And…. .with our Shining Brighter College and University program in place, it allows more time to for scholarships to be formed for those who are thinking about college or University. We are finding the good in all of this."

(Michelle Akoth | Girls Empowerment Coordinator and Shining Brighter University Scholar)

"We look forward to engaging our Girls Empowerment, Women’s Empowerment, and Maridadi Skills per the allowances/restrictions as they unfold in the future. We will provide another update soon after additional consultation with local leaders and the Ministry of Health. We miss our Women's Empowerment Teacher, Miss Fay from La Femme Coaching so much and cannot wait to see her again!

Asante Sana "

-Michelle Akoth, Girls Empowerment Coordinator & Shining Brighter University Scholar

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