KAINO: An e-learning platform for pre-school

Tuesday June 08 2021
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Ms Lyndah Kembabazi, co- founder KAINOafrica guides a child through Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) lessons. PHOTOS/RACHEL NABISUBI

By RACHEAL NABISUBI

The fate of early childhood education still hangs in balance as the country struggles with the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The second wave is more aggressive than the first one as it affects children as well.

Following the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic and closure of schools on March 1, 2020 as a measure to curb the spread of the Coronavirus disease, it is not yet clear when nursery schools will resume schooling.

But thanks to innovations and Apps such as KAINO (an education App), continuity to learning is now possible.

KAINO is an easy –to –use tool that offers premium early childhood education content to parents and teachers which they can use to deliver daily curriculum –aligned lessons to their children using the web and mobile apps.

STEM

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Ms Lyndah Kembabazi, co-founder and chief content development officer, KAINOafrica, says that KAINO is an integrated multi-channel learning programme designed to ensure that millions of nursery school-going children get access to quality curriculum-aligned STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) blended lesson guides that parents and teachers can use to deliver lessons using web and mobile applications.

“We noticed that Early Childhood Education (ECD) was a neglected space where most innovations were catering to primary and secondary education yet ECD is not only the foundation of all learning but also early mental stimulation,” Ms Kembabazi says.

Covid-19 effects

Uganda among many countries has been up in arms on the effects of the pandemic on the education sector due to distortion in the curriculum with kindergarten most recently still in lockdown until the pandemic passes. 

She notes that ECD is time-bound from zero to eight years which means that the difficulties in learning later in life can be traced back to lack of early mental stimulation in the early years.

“For instance, the Uganda national early learning framework for child development is our foundation and blends it with the British national curriculum, where we use the phonics approach to reading,” Ms Kembabazi says.

This is further blended in the STEM curriculum to achieve early mental stimulation which results in the KAINO teaching guide that any parent or teacher can use to teach their children using KAINO web and mobile apps.

Although the 31-year-old educationist, entrepreneur, mother, home schooler, gender equality activist and K-12 Curriculum specialist persued a Bachelor’s Degree in Tourism from Makerere University, her kinship for children pushed her towards teaching.

“Much as teaching is a ridiculed profession branded by demeaning remunerations and unprofessionalism, I knew I had to delve into it as I longed to make a difference,” Ms Kembabazi, a 31-year-old graduate in Tourism from Makerere University says.

She conceived the idea following her bad experience in school where school was ‘a have to be’ not ‘a want to be’ place which was a reality for many.

“I knew that something was wrong with the training approach mostly used in our education system,” Kembabazi says.

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The unifying factor is that all learners are not trained to be thinkers but memorisers of different subjects hence making them well prepared for exams not life.

Ms Kembabaazi then decided to focus on the next generation where we crafted STEM-blended content to cater for brain stimulation, adopted the phonics approach to reading which gets children to read easily and the KAINO teacher guide to make sure the right pedagogical styles are used.

The goal is to raise well-rounded children fully equipped with skills for the 21st Century workspace.

She joined the Teach2030 community under the commonwealth education trust where she majored in curriculum development and went on to do various Massive Open Online Courses (moocs) from Harvard University in early childhood development and child psychology. This garnered her the position of the chief curriculum development officer at KAINOafrica.

She explains: “As a co-founder in the digital millennium, I’m persuaded that locally developed e-learning solutions are the future of education in Africa. Much as technology cannot replace good teachers, technology in the hands of a great teacher is very transformational.”

KAINO amid education tech Apps

Ms Kembabazi notes that the uniqueness about KAINO is its ability to teach children how to read in just one month yet many children have been found unable to read even after three years in school.

“We have considered well-rounded development for young children through our learning areas of emotional and social development, healthy habits, literacy and numeracy skills,” she explains.

In addition, they have fully embraced student-centred and play-based pedagogy including daily learning guides, interactive audio and video content, workbooks, daily assessment platforms, digital storybooks and progress tracking functions to ensure that students are receiving instructions that enable them to learn.

Challenges

With nursery schools being indefinitely suspended because of Covid-19, this leaves over 850,000 children stranded at home; without a sustainable solution.

She says: “We believe if nothing is done, we are condemning the next generation to difficulty in learning and acquiring new skills, struggle, and abject poverty.”

She is quick to note that KAINO delivers quality content for all-around development for nursery children that can take a child throughout their three years of nursery education.

However, KAINO has had its own encounters such as; getting some parents to understand the role they play in their children’s lives.

“Many parents are sold out to the school system and do not believe they can teach and create the environment for their children’s learning,” Ms Kembabazi notes.

Achievements

KAINO is a tried and tested product that enables a child to read in just one month regardless of their status (rural/urban), thanks to their phonics approach to reading.

“Nursery school-going children have an innate love for the world around them and our STEM activities effortlessly bring forth their natural love for science,” Ms Kembabazi says.

KAINO not only develops in-depth teacher training and support programmes but also takes data collection in the early education sector seriously to enable policymakers to make data-driven decisions.

Costs

KAINO has a web application that is up and running free trials through their website with weekly, monthly and annual subscription models that range within the cost of Shs38,000, Shs110,000 and Shs800,000, respectively for individual parents who would love to use it for home schooling their children.

For nursery schools that would love to use KAINO, they should simply contact KAINO to discuss the setup and subscription.

Future plans 

She notes that they have sought out approvals from National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) to create confidence in our users. She is optimistic that the approval will be a success.

KAINO’s vision is to increase student-teacher contact hours with teachers empowered by technology impacting over 100 million lives of school-going children in Africa by 2030.

She hopes to expedite the development of their offline mobile application to avoid being limited by Internet access and to further conduct rural literacy training of women and children from six regions in Uganda namely; Tororo, Agago, a refugee camp, Kamuli, Kabale and West Nile.

Digital divide

Approximately half of the population still lack an internet connection. This means that majority of students in Uganda cannot access remote learning, mainly due to a lack of online learning policies or lack of tools and equipment needed to connect from home. Most students do not have the appropriate connectivity, tools, devices, and digital skills required to find and use educational content dependent on technology.

This enormous digital divide shows how connectivity has become a key factor to guarantee the right to education. Digital skills and learning must be incorporated into education systems in order to address the injustice of the digital divide.

Future

Going digital

 Acording to Stalworth Consulting Group, approximately half of the population still lack an internet connection. This means that majority of students in Uganda cannot access remote learning, mainly due to a lack of online learning policies or lack of tools and equipment needed to connect from home. Most students do not have the appropriate connectivity, tools, devices, and digital skills required to find and use educational content dependent on technology.

This enormous digital divide shows how connectivity has become a key factor to guarantee the right to education. Digital skills and learning must be incorporated into education systems in order to address the injustice of the digital divide. 

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