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The Literacy Ledger Reflections, findings, stories and the lowdown

“Teaching is all I can live for” – Daniel’s Story

April 23, 2017 By

Last year we launched an e-reading program at Magoso Primary School. The school is tucked away in the heart of Kibera, Kenya. Kibera is Africa’s largest urban slum with a population estimate that ranges widely between 200,000 and 1 million people. This school is one of few that are scattered around this enormous slum. I’m here to meet with Daniel Ochieng, the head teacher at the school, to learn about what it’s like to teach with e-readers in this incredibly challenging environment. 

Meeting Daniel

Dressed impeccably, Daniel welcomes me inside the school gates. He has a kind face and speaks in a gentle voice, taking his time to show me around the facilities.

e-readers at magoso primary school in kenya

Daniel has been a teacher at Magoso Primary School for over 10 years. Most of the 493 students attending the school are orphans. These students face not only the challenges of poverty; many of them have also suffered severe trauma. But you wouldn’t know it. As I walk around the colorful courtyard, there are children dancing, playing musical instruments and marching joyfully to their classrooms.

Kids find a haven at Magoso

Daniel explains that the school strongly believes in the power of music and art therapy to generate healing for the students. In fact the school’s gospel choir and string band have both previously won first place in different categories at Kenya’s national music festival. “We have become a role model to schools in Kenya,” says Daniel proudly.

e-readers at magoso primary school in kenya

Since receiving the e-readers, the students have increasingly started turning to reading for escape: “Every morning children flock into this office asking for e-readers. And every time they come they want to spend the whole day with them just reading. If the e-readers are busy in a classroom, you’ll find the children in the library looking for books—they want to read. If I’d be allowed to rate the difference since we received the e-readers, I’d say we’ve seen about a 50% increase in library attendance.”

“Content is a very big plus”

I ask Daniel what it is about the e-readers that makes the biggest difference for the teachers and the students: “the content in the e-reader is a very big plus,” he tells me. “Carrying 100 books within a small gadget is so good to us because it lessens the burden of having to carry a bag everywhere you go. It lessens the burden on parents to have to pay school books for their children. And the children have improved their reading skills and have developed more interest in reading.” Speaking with Daniel, I understand just how important it is that Worldreader is working with local publishers and authors to bring students books they can relate to and it’s clearly an imperative component when you’re on a mission to create a culture of reading.

e-readers at magoso primary school in kenya

Despite teaching in one of the largest slums in the world, Daniel is hopeful that, given the right care, his students can overcome even the most challenging circumstances. In fact, he’s seen it happen many times. “The proudest moment of my life was when I once walked into a house and found a little tiny girl who had been abandoned by relatives. I rescued the child and brought her to school. And as we are talking, she has now graduated from high school. Every time I look back at that experience, I know that I came into this life with a purpose. To me, teaching is all that I can live for,” he says with a smile that lights up his whole being.

Daniel’s calm sense of purpose and big heart leave me with the strongest reminder that even just one determined person can change a whole lot in this world.

The digital book drive

One of the many books that the children at Magoso Primary School enjoy reading on their e-readers is The Giraffe Who Got in a Knot. A beautifully illustrated picture book with rhyming text. To celebrate World Book Day, donate this book so that more students in our e-reading programs can enjoy reading it. Join our first ever digital book drive now.

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