The woman sourcing old computers to teach young Kenyans IT skills

Nelly Cheboi's mission is to bring IT skills to Kenyan schoolchildren
Nelly Cheboi's mission is to bring IT skills to Kenyan schoolchildren Copyright Cleared
By Mark Armstrong
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Nelly Cheboi, who founded TechLit Africa, upcycles old computers to open new worlds to pupils in rural Kenya.


In a globally connected world, computer literacy is an essential skill to increase employability, and one woman is on a mission to make sure that children in rural Kenya don't miss out.

Nelly Cheboi is the CEO and founder of TechLit Africa, an NGO that collects old laptops from institutions and companies, refurbishes them and brings them to schools in remote communities to teach kids IT skills.

"We have a refurbishment centre here where we wipe the computers, install our own custom operating system and then we deploy into schools. We also partner with youth in the community that we train to run our classes so our classes are part of the school curriculum," she explains.

The computers come free of charge, but local schools are responsible for paying the IT teacher. That costs parents around €1 a day on top of the €37 per term that they have to pay the academy. In Kenya that can add up, but clearly many parents think it will pay off.

"I have been teaching kids to develop websites and how they can add some goodies on their websites like CSS, images, videos and audio," says Elysee Dusabinema, IT teacher at Zawadi Yetu Academy. 

"This is something that will help kids know how they can brand themselves online and how they can do business online because that is where the world is heading".

One of the pupils at the academy is Sammy Ruto.

"In this class, I have been taught how to use visual studio code to make my own website using HTML and CSS, then I have been taught about OpenShot (video editing programme) and about NASA to make my own rocket when I grow up. So I hope this class will help me in my future to be an IT expert," Ruto said.

As a developing country, Kenya trails in terms of technological advancements, but this project is doing what it can to level the playing field.

"We are living in a world where we are now going to digital currency, things like Bitcoin, cryptocurrency, fintech, basically financial technology," said Innocent Kimutai, education expert and consultant. 

"Should these kids begin these particular skills at this age, I am sure by the time they are actually out of university they will be implementing these skills and not looking for jobs like most of us did".

The programme is currently running in 13 schools across Kenya, equipping 5,000 students from the ages of 4 to 12 with skills to unlock their future.

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