Innovative Re-Programming Amidst COVID-19
Windle International Kenya
The emergence and global spread of COVID-19 have led to significant changes and disruption of services.
While the pandemic has had catastrophic effects on all populations, it has presented greater challenges for refugees. To ensure continued support for our Persons of Concern (PoC), Windle International Kenya (WIK) had to adapt our strategies and approaches in the delivery and execution of our services.
With the disruption of education due to the closure of learning institutions in Kenya, innovative approaches were adopted to ensure that the students we support in secondary schools in Dadaab and Kakuma and in tertiary institutions could continue learning. Leveraging ICT infrastructure was one sure way of offering continued support to our PoC while adhering to COVID-19-19 safety and protection guidelines.
Mental Health Awareness
Joint e-Forums With the uncertainty and fear that came with the pandemic, causing anxiety and other psychological difficulties, the mental well-being of our PoC was of great concern to WIK. WIK’s counseling department with the help of external psycho-social support specialists organized a virtual mental health support forum targeting university and college scholars.
The indefinite closure of universities and colleges abruptly stopped learning at a critical time when most faculties and schools were preparing for end-of-semester examinations. This threw students off balance, with the daily reports on new infections and death rates fueling more panic and uncertainty. There was a need to equip scholars with additional tools to handle these changes and support others around them. With face-to-face activities grounding to a halt in adherence to social distancing protocols, the three-part forum was conducted via MS teams, targeting over 600 scholars.
The objective was to educate and sensitize scholars on mental health issues such as identifying common challenges as well as an array of structures and mechanisms for addressing those issues.
Embracing Digital Platforms
Implementing remote support for WIK students to continue learning called for a switch to digital learning and information sharing platforms. Digital platforms such as Telegram, WhatsApp, and MS Teams were extensively used by our teachers to share education content such as lesson notes, revision materials, assignments, and other relevant audio/visual files with learners. The same channels proved useful in monitoring and maintaining contact with our scholars to establish their general well-being.
Partnering for Connectivity
The COVID-19 pandemic presented a crucial opportunity for universities and colleges to leverage their digital capability. As such, most institutions switched to online learning via platforms like Google Classroom, Blackboard, Moodle, Zoom, and other customized online applications. This required scholars to have constant and unlimited access to internet connectivity.
For WIK scholars, this posed other challenges such as unreliable internet connectivity in the camps and the cost of purchasing bundles. WIK, therefore, partnered with a local telecommunication company to provide subsidized data bundles for scholars who had registered to continue with online learning in their respective institutions. This significantly increased the number of scholars undertaking online learning. Partnering for Continued Engagement WIK partnered with local radio stations in Dadaab and Kakuma to broadcast radio lessons to WIK secondary school students in the camps.
Radio broadcast is one of the alternative curriculum delivery channels rolled out by the Government of Kenya through the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), mandated to develop approved curriculum support materials for learning during COVID-19. This radio program content is broadcasted by over thirty local FM stations spread across different counties. Where the radio signal was weak in the camps, pre-recorded KICD lessons were broadcasted through the local camp-based radio stations to our learners. For our learners facing challenges in accessing radios, smartphones, and internet bundles, WIK issued books donated by our partners to help students continue studying at home.
Opportunity to Make a Difference
WIK scholarship programs seek to nurture and cultivate the spirit of volunteerism and giving back to the community. The COVID-19 pandemic provided an opportunity for our tertiary scholarship beneficiaries to complement the efforts of the government and camp-based organizations in the fight against COVID-19. They volunteered their skills in activities ranging from production and distribution of masks and soap to carrying out COVID-19 sensitization campaigns in their community.
To read other stories from the 2020 CLCC Yearbook, click here