Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Using ICT to empower youth and women

By Bett Kipsang' 

It is a bright Tuesday morning in Ng’arua as Ishamael Kiplimo 29, pops into the maarifa centre, wearing a broad smile. He needs some ICT services, and before that, he narrates how him and fellow members of a newly registered group; the Kipkelion Self Help Group, are grateful for the quality and timely services offered to them at the maarifa centre. One youthful member of this group was sent to the centre to download and print a copy of UWEZO fund forms a day before.

The government recently launched UWEZO fund, targeting youth and women’s economic empowerment. ''We can now apply for the fund, to empower ourselves economically'' Ishmael said. The group plans to venture into agribusiness.

''My first big achievement from the maarifa centre is unforgettable, I attended free ICT trainings which has opened up opportunities for me'' He said. Immediately after the training, Ishmael and others applied for a contract job with the Independent Electoral Commission (I.E.B.C) as a Biometric Voter Registration (B.V.R) clerk. It was mandatory for applicants to demonstrate possession of ICT skills, and it was not hard for him since he already had a certificate from the maarifa centre. He got the job, which paid relatively well, and henceforth life was not the same for the college leaver struggling to make ends meet.

Internet has made life easier for job seekers. Youths like Ishmael, comes to the maarifa centre to apply for electricians certification from the Energy Regulatory Commission (E.R.C). ''I accessed the commission's site, signed up to create a profile and uploaded my application details. Then I went back home in Kirigo village, sipili Laikipia west'' He said. ''There cannot be a better and convenient way of looking for a job than this'' Ishmael said referring to the use of Internet at the maarifa centre.

As a result of that application, ERC has organized a written interview, which Ishmael was invited to attend at the college of insurance in Nairobi. Ishmael, a diploma holder in Electrical Engineering is now awaiting for the oral interview. Meanwhile, he has also applied to be registered by the East African Cables (E.A.C) as an electrician. ''I hope to be registered fully by EAC once I get the E.R.C's certificate'' Ishmael said.

As if that was not enough, Ishmael who is always eager to learn, is also an ardent user of the Maarifa centre's library. ‘‘Recently I borrowed a book, called Electrical Installation works from the library, the book was useful for me since I updated my skills on vault findings, cable tests, and motor installations'' he said.
Ishmael has also done online research on the companies that produce solar modules. ''I have gotten contacts of companies producing solar accessories and have bought two solar panels from their distributors in Nyahururu to install for my clients. ''I cherish the maarifa so much'' said Ishmael.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Free online virtual ‘‘school’’ wins top award

By Bett Kipsang’

The burden of raising billions of dollars to meet the cost of education is by far huge for parents, governments and educational institutions. Worst is when the learning materials and tools are far from reach by the resources poor and marginalized local communities. To mitigate such a situation, a model of education ‘‘ALISON’’ (http://alison.com/) has been developed. It can save governments and educational institutions billions of dollars every year if adopted.

ALISON is the 2013 winner of the World Innovation Summit in Education (WISE) Awards. It is “A Creative Model of Open Education for a Global Economy” New York Times.

An email message entitled; ‘‘ALISON Wins Top Global Education Innovation Award’’ has been circulated to registered online students around Ng’arua Maarifa centre.

‘‘We are delighted to announce that ALISON has been chosen as one of the winners of 2013’’ ‘‘We would like to take this opportunity to thank you as a member of the ALISON free learning community for your support and promotion of what we do’’ the message read in part.

The Qatar Foundation sponsors WISE awards annually. It is one of the most prestigious awards in global education, awarded for "outstanding quality and exceptional impact on Education through innovation".

ALISON* is the world's leading free online learning resource for basic and essential workplace skills. It provides high-quality, engaging, interactive multimedia courseware for certification and standards-based learning.

ALISON’s mission is to enable anyone, anywhere, to educate themselves for free via interactive, self-paced multimedia. It is believed that through ALISON, the cost of access to high-quality education can be removed, thereby creating a more equitable and sustainable global society.
The online studies have been made possible with the believe that all certifiable or standards-based learning for every subject can be made available for free online. 

This is also in line with Article 26 of the United Nations Universal Declarations of Human Rights, which states, "Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free….., Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all…..., this become a reality with ALISON.

Since its launch in April 2007, ALISON has developed relationships with some of the largest and most prestigious institutions involved in promoting education and learning. With one million registered learners spread across nearly 200 countries worldwide, ALISON enjoys a global reputation for delivering quality education and training online. In 2011, over 50,000 people worldwide graduated at Certificate and Diploma courses with ALISON.

Word is spreading fast about the new facility that is making profound impact on people's lives and livelihoods around the world. 
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