Written by Emily Redmond
There are 3.9 billion digitally excluded people worldwide. That’s 53% of the world’s population who have never been online. Although 47% of the world’s population are internet users, this number drops to 28% of the population of Africa. Good Things Foundation’s goal is to help socially excluded people through digital, therefore testing the platform, products and models we have used in the UK, in different contexts, is something we feel is important are turning our attention to next. That is why we are very excited to announce our Digital Life: Kenya pilot, in partnership with the Kenya National Library Service (knls).
Crossing the Digital Divide
Digital Life: Kenya is about testing how people from different societies in Kenya can improve their lives through digital literacy. Over the course of 12 months, Good Things Foundation will be testing how effective our well established digital inclusion program and resources are in supporting people to improve their lives through digital in Kenya. We want to support libraries and library users to explore the benefits that being online can bring. We will do this through sharing our resources and programs specially designed to support and inspire people who are digitally excluded to cross the digital divide.
We are making our online platform for basic digital skills, Learn My Way, available to all 61 libraries in the knls network for free. The library staff are welcome and encouraged to use Learn My Way for improving their digital skills and to support library users on their digital inclusion journey. We are encouraging knls staff to take active part in the pilot, to explore and use the resources provided for their own benefit and to engage, inspire and support people from their communities to improve their lives through digital, too.
Next week, me and my colleague Michael will be going out to Kenya to meet with knls, run workshops, deliver face to face Digital Champion and Learn My Way training with 20 librarians and employees from 10 knls libraries that we will be working with more closely on the pilot. We are looking forward to visiting 4 of the 10 libraries (Naivasha, Kangema, Gilgil and Kinyambu) to experience the surrounding communities for ourselves, and meet members of the library teams and library users.
The Kenya National Library Service: 10 pilot libraries are shown in red, the other 51 in blue
This pilot is the result of lots of planning between Good Things Foundation and knls over the last 9 months. We have already heard from each of the 10 pilot libraries about if and how they currently support digital inclusion activities, the sort of challenges they face and what they would like to get out of the pilot, as well as their aspirations for their libraries in general.
Developing Digital Skills
The libraries have told us about some of the issues they currently face that are making it harder for them to do digital inclusion activities. These include lack of digital skills amongst library staff, lack of equipment, staff, space, power, connectivity and training materials. One response that particularly stood out about barriers to libraries supporting people to develop their digital skills:
“People have not embraced digital sources of information as authentic” knls librarian
And another response that stood out when asked about their overall aspirations for their library:
“We want to equip library staff with the digital skills to pass on - to empower and transform the lives of others and change their livelihoods” knls librarian
We hope to be able to help the libraries achieve their aspirations, and over the course of the pilot, we hope to speak to as many library staff and users, and spend time in as many libraries and communities as possible. Neither Michael or myself have been to Kenya before - nor Africa even - and we can’t wait to get over there. To find out more about what we get up to on our first trip and the pilot in general, we’ll be regularly updating our tumblr blog with photos, videos and findings. We don’t know how Good Things Foundation’s approach to digital inclusion is going to go down in Kenya, but we’re excited to find out.