ELIMU Pamoja Online Tutoring Program
In developing countries, especially in rural areas, the quality of education is low, and the youth often have no computers and afterschool support system. On the other hand, in developed countries, many university students are willing to donate their time to assist these youth, but may not know how to go about it, or are unable to physically travel there due to their studies or cost issues. Elimu has launched an innovative, yet simple, solution to connect both worlds, exploiting the recent improvement in communication technologies: a Skype-based tutoring program that would help bridge both this physical and digital divide.
"Pamoja" means "together" in Kiswahili, and is the name of our online tutoring project at Raimu Primary School in Kianyaga, Kenya. We have established an online tutoring program for Grade 6 students. This program allows both Kirinyaga and McGill students to expand their horizons and gain exposure to new people and environments.
Thanks to the fund-raising effort from the crowdfunding website Seeds of Change at McGill University and superPROF, a McGill intern was able to travel to Kenya and purchase five desktop computers to set up in the Elimu library, along with an Internet connection. The project was then successfully launched in 2015.
The tutoring program provides McGill student volunteers the opportunity to help support education initiatives, and thus contribute to social development in Kirinyaga. McGill is home to numerous students who are interested in international development, as evidenced by the large size of the International Development Studies (IDS) program. For these students, and others interested in the field of international development, being exposed to the lives and challenges of those in rural areas and in the developing world can be an incredibly valuable experience. McGill students have a lot to gain and learn through establishing relationships with students in a rural and developing area like Kirinyaga, Kenya
On the other hand, this project could have a significant impact on the Kirinyaga students, as McGill volunteers will help tutor them in English. By receiving online tutoring, students in developing countries should increase their grades, learn how to use computers, and gain exposure to new people and environments. This may translate into better subsequent labor market outcomes, and ultimately economic development. We hope to assess the impact of Skype tutoring in a cross-cultural context on academic performance, and ultimately measure any long-term economic impacts.
What are the top 3 goals of this project?
1. Create opportunities for McGill students to tutor and practice English with high school students in Kirinyaga
2. Encourage cross-cultural interaction between McGill and Kirinyaga students, so that they can all gain exposure to new people and environments
3. Provide an Elimu intern from McGill with experience in leadership and social development through managing the program