Located in the busy market town of Busia in western Kenya, Busia Community Library is open to everyone and to children from all schools. The library seeks to address community concerns about the high numbers of children who struggle to pass the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exams, which determine entry into secondary school.
The innovative project
With support from the EIFL Public Library Innovation Programme (EIFL-PLIP) in 2012, the library introduced the Watoto kwa Watoto (Children for Children) pilot project, which creates a comfortable learning environment for children in the library, and uses six tablet computers to help children learn. The library’s partner, eLimu, preloaded the tablets with educational material and games related to the school curriculum, and trained librarians and school officials to use them.
Working with the Ministry of Education, the library identified three primary schools, and selected 15 students (five from each school) to take part in the pilot project. Librarians gave the children access to the tablet computers, and encouraged the children to use them to access the learning material, to research the internet and to play educational games.
eifl-plip project timeline
May 2012 - April 2013.
achievements and impact
The Watoto kwa Watoto pilot project demonstrated the effectiveness of tablet computers pre-loaded with educational content and educational games in improving children’s school results. Throughout the year, schools conduct Continuous Assessment Tests (CATS) to assess students’ progress. The library obtained average CAT scores for the 15 students in March 2012, before Watoto kwa Watoto began, and again in March 2013, at the end of the programme’s first year. Students’ CAT scores in key subjects - including science and mathematics - improved. Parents, teachers and headmasters all firmly believe the improvements are a result of Watoto kwa Watoto. They also reported that the 15 students were more socially outgoing, well-mannered and curious about the world.
Busia Community Library is continuing to offer the Watoto kwa Watoto service, working in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Maria’s Libraries, a non-governmental organization committed to strengthening libraries in Kenya.