Open Space Literacy

Technology helps improve literacy skills

For the Open Space Literacy Project (OSL), SOS Children’s Villages teamed up with Plan International and various corporate partners to improve the reading and writing skills of school children with the help of information technology tools in Kenyan classrooms.

The Open Space Literacy Project (OSL) has been set up to improve teachers’ efficacy and children’s learning outcomes in disadvantaged communities in Kenya, making new technologies available to students and teachers.

OSL classrooms are equipped with computers and other technological tools to improve students’ literacy and learning experience. Additionally, teachers are trained to apply interactive, child-friendly teaching methods in the classrooms, using digital and non-digital learning materials. They apply an approach called ‘inquiry-based facilitative methods’, engaging pupils in interactive learning through discussions instead of presenting content for the children to memorise.

Additionally, the project helps create networks for teachers and engages parents and community members in school management.

Interactive learning with digital tools has many advantages:

  • Children can access quality educational content in different languages using laptops or mobile phones.

  • The technology enables students to learn at their own pace and allows for better feedback, even in crowded classrooms.

  • Schoolbooks are often scarce in disadvantaged schools; when they are not available to all students, teachers can use projectors to share content.

  • Teachers can monitor each child individually through an easy-to-use online learning management system.

  • Teachers use interactive teaching methods, and apply the concepts of gender equality and positive discipline.

“Public schools [have] scarce resources in terms of textbooks […]. I use OSL devices to project part of the textbook to the pupils, allowing the whole class to benefit. I also use digital content in the OSL devices, and the pupils really enjoy the lessons!”

Lydiah Mureithi, teacher at Dr Livingstone School

Facts and figures

So far, the Open Space Literacy Project has been implemented in one Hermann Gmeiner School and 27 public primary schools in Nairobi County, Kenya. The average school size was 984 pupils and 21 teachers.

In 2016, 17,900 pupils, 660 teachers, 200 boards of management, and about 19,000 people across the community benefitted from the OSL project.

Measuring results: positive outcomes

To assess the results of the OSL project, an independent study was carried out by Women Educational Researchers of Kenya (WERK), comparing results from schools with and without OSL classrooms. The study found that:

LITERACY

The OSL project improved children’s literacy by using inclusive teaching methods, classroom leadership, and information and communication technologies.

SCHOOL ATTENDANCE

School attendance improved in OSL schools. A child in a school without OSL classrooms was twice as likely (26.2%) to miss school for more than a week in a year than a child in an OSL school (14.7%).

TEACHING SKILLS

Teachers who had never used computers and other ICT devices are now able to do so. Around two thirds of all teachers in the OSL schools now use digital and non-digital learning materials for teaching.

Active participation of parents

As in many schools around the world, the attitude of parents is crucial for their children’s success. The OSL project shows that involving parents directly rather than working exclusively with schools’ management boards engages more parents in school governance and school development plans.


Working with partners

A project of this scope cannot be done without strong partners with diverse expertise and specialisations. The unique partnership with Plan International, private companies, public institutions and the government have made OSL classrooms possible.


Scalability

OSL is a scalable method. With the experience from the project schools and support from corporate partners, it can easily be rolled out to other countries.

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