E- Learning for out of school youth in Usakos
Twenty out of school youngsters from Usakos took part in a three-day e- learning workshop two weeks ago. The workshop whose aim was to explore the concept of mobile learning and its use in virtual education was organised by Maurice Nkusi as the chairperson of Namibian open learning Network trust e-learning standard committee (NolNet-eLC), in joint venture with the multipurpose youth centre and Ministry of the Youth, National Services, Sport and Culture (MYNSSC).NolNet-eLC is a partnership between the Ministry of Education, the Unam, National Institute for Educational Development, Polytechnic of Namibia and Namcol. Gebhard Eshumba, a Usakos youth officer at the MYNSSC stated, “The main purpose of the workshop and project is to equip our youth with enough knowledge. Our country is faced with many challenges such as high rates of school dropouts and unemployment so we are trying to see how to empower them.” The workshop formed part of a research project initiated by Nkusi to assess how efficiently mobile phones can enhance learning resources for skills development in Namibia.“The project looks at teaching and learning using mobile phones in a pure e-learning mode of delivery and how they can enhance skills development for the out of school youth in Namibia. “We are aware of the phenomenon of school dropouts. These are learners who failed Grades 10 and 12 and are condemned to the streets without proper skills and without employment every year,” Nkusi said.“Therefore, I want to find out if using a widely spread electronic gadget that is also affordable compared to computers can help those young people to learn and gain skills that will enable them to create their own businesses and contribute to the development of Namibia. “Providing computers to all children in Namibia is a challenge due to the cost involved, therefore mobile phones will be used to complement other educational models implemented in the country.”Throughout the project, the participants were expected to learn business management, entrepreneurship, HIV, as well as environment studies. The lessons were received through mobile learning. They were then offered cell phones to use during the entire project. Although the project is still in its research phase; the participants are excited about the opportunity given to them to be part of the project as it gives them a chance to an education through ways they never thought of. “My Grade 12 points were very weak so this gives me an opportunity to study again,” said Michael Rutz, one of the participants. Another student, Matilda Joe Eises, a Grade 10 dropout said, “I like the e-learning program because it is not like being in class or using a book but rather something that I can use in my comfort zone and time and it is up to me to use it for my benefit.” Eshumba added that he was getting good responses and positivity from the youth. “Being drop-outs, most of them do not have occupations or jobs so we keep them busy with the exercises and lessons. For the moment, they are learning about mushroom cultivations.” Further plans for the project are to add more courses to the mobile learning platform for the youth to acquire different skills that can allow them to contribute to the development of the country. “The fact is that mobile learning is still in its infancy stage, therefore more researchers are required to capitalise on the potential of mobile technology in teaching and other sectors,” Nkusi stresses.