Changing lives through library service
Kenya National Library Service, Nakuru Branch is not only viewed as one of the magnificent building in town, it is but also changing lives and has touched communities at a personal level.
A learning circle program which was introduced in September 2016 has trained over 250 students’ majority of them from Rhonda slums, and other school drop outs who would not afford tertiary fees.
ICT officer at the Library, Josek Olala, said Learning Circle Program has contributed immensely in reducing the digital divide in the society, especially in the slums and rural areas of the county consequently resulting in the transformation of livelihoods as well as in the empowerment of the community.
He said: “this is a program in which a group of people having the same interests and ideas come together to learn and share for the purpose of self-development and fulfillment.’’
The program involves short courses offered daily for at least 2 hours per session for a period of about 6-8 weeks, with the assistance of facilitators.
Among the courses offered include website design and development, community journalism, resume writing and job interview skills.
He said program was positively changing the lives of young people who have not been able to join higher learning institutions due to lack of tuition fees.
Most of them have acquired skills which they now put into practice and, they have generated income to cater for their needs.
Additionally, he said the program has scaled the Kenya Library Service, Nakuru branch to a global status, and it is being used as a benchmark in using ICT to improve the lives of young people.
Notably, one of the beneficiaries of the program, Chris Bwahyi, who comes from a poor family in the Rhonda slums, said the program has assisted him to cater for the needs of his siblings’, including paying school fees.
He provided the link to the website as (starixcoms.000webhostapp.com).
Bwahyi said: “Learning Circle provides a unique advantage that goes an extra mile to help the peers start a career or a business. For instance it not only taught me how to write codes and programs, it trained me to be a web developer, a skill that I have turned into a business venture. The website is used as a marketing tool where clients can get in touch thus enabling my company to offer business services on time.’’
Another beneficiary of the program, Mary Kuria, who underwent the same training, said without the assistance of the Learning Cycle Program she would not have learnt computer skills due to lack of money. She said the skills she learnt on resume writing, and how to tackle job interviews has assisted her to get a job.
“In resume writing, I gained knowledge on how to write a cover letter, an application letter, how to present myself during an interview and also how to respond to questions. I would like to encourage all to join the learning circle programs at KNLS since they are free of charge and have a lot of positive impact in our lives. For example one can start designing websites for schools, hospitals hence generate income”, said Mary.
Olala said Peer-to-peer learning cycle was gradually being introduced in libraries because it’s an inexpensive way of acquiring skills, which many people in poor countries cannot afford. He said the peer learning offers a ‘’safe harbor’’ in which students can manage their own learning experiences by exploring, practicing, and questioning their understanding of issues and topics with a well-trained peer, unfettered from the hierarchy inherent in formal instruction environments.
The ICT, officer said the Learning Cycle program was managed by volunteers whom the library evaluates before being allowed to assist the students. He said contrary to popular believe, there are many Kenyans who are willing to volunteer their services for free.
“In this country there are many educated people who are unemployed and instead of sitting idle and wasting their skills, they are willing to assist, and in the process improve their resume. Also there are retirees who have offered to assist in the program,’’ said Olala.
He said the Nakuru Library has become a bee hive of activity because it’s well stocked and the new library building attracts learners.
He stated that during the holidays the library was overstretched and a number of learners sometimes seat on the floor due to lack of seats. ‘’For children whose families live in one roomed houses, this is the ideal place to spend their time and acquire knowledge at the same time,’’ he added.
He commended the community for having turned the library to a rendezvous, which has made a number of organizations to realize that it was the ideal place to send their messages.
He gave an example of the Marie Stopes, which has started sexual education programs for the youth at the library.
By Veronica Bosibori