In Kenya’s remote North Rift, the eLearning project “Good School Neighbours” is helping to bring peace to armed and nomadic peoples. The project gives students, teachers and opinion-makers the chance to encourage dialogue and peaceful co-existence between the feuding rural communities in this vast, arid region, home to around 1.8 million people, where armed cattle-rustling has been a way of life.
By Reuben Kyama and Naftali Mwaura in Nairobi, Kenya
The Kenyans have embraced eLearning and other technical innovations designed to tackle poverty, environmental degradation and traditional tribal conflicts. Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki said recently that eLearning had opened new frontiers for the country, promoting mass literacy, national cohesion and economic development.
The North Rift Region
The North Rift has been a powder keg for decades, suffering ethnic conflicts that have taken a heavy toll on lives and property. Thousands were killed, maimed or displaced by violence after the disputed Kenyan presidential elections in 2008.
Fighting Ignorance with Education
Social scientists blamed the violence of 2008 on years of poverty, hate-filled speechmaking, educational ignorance and economic marginalisation. They scaled up an education campaign to promote inter-ethnic harmony amongst young unemployed men, who had traditionally been used by politicians to aggravate social chaos.
“Good School Neighbours” and “The North Rift eLearning Consortium”
Peace building in the North Rift has been accelerated by conflict resolution and good neighbourliness. “Good School Neighbours” (GSN) is supported by SNV Netherlands, a Dutch non-governmental organisation dedicated to promoting education, fighting poverty and improving local governance in the developing world. GSN is aligned with another project called “The North Rift eLearning Consortium”, also promoted by SNV Netherlands. GSN also supports a group of schools which are spearheading eLearning. Philip Mwei, one of the pioneers at GSN, says, “Our intention is to link this programme on a small scale with the ongoing activities of the consortium. Whenever teachers are trained, they are introduced to eLearning and elements of small-scale peace-making. We are hoping that these efforts may attract funding.”
The Consortium has developed an eLearning resource centre to provide a wealth of information on peace and conflict resolution, using education manuals, teacher training and eLearning with websites, e-mails and recorded programmes. According to Mwei, the key to spreading peace throughout the forty million people of Kenya is to support educated people with information technology.
Philip Kiptanui Mwei from Arnesen’s High School, Kenya, and Mathew Kituu from The North Rift eLearning Consortium, Kenya, will present “eLearning for Peace Building and Sustainability: Good School Neighbours Project” as part of the session Building a Peaceful, Secure and Stable Society: the Role of ICTs, to be held on Thursday, May 27th from 11:15 – 13:15.
May 11, 2010