Augsburg, 13 June 2022. The PATRIZIA Foundation is promoting digital transformation at schools worldwide. Following pilot initiatives in Cameroon, Nepal and Rwanda, it is now implementing its Ready for the Future concept in Kenya. Its local partner for the project is the Sauti Kuu Foundation. To set the ball rolling for the project, Dr Auma Obama, its founder and CEO, travelled to Augsburg. The aim of the project is to enable children to learn independently by offering new methods revolving around children, using digitech to provide lessons, even in times of crisis.
The digital transformation concept owes its origins to emergency measures introduced during the coronavirus pandemic. At a press conference organised to kick off the initiative, Constanze Egger explained how, within a very short timeframe, the foundation set up a relief fund for its KinderHaus facilities in the early months of 2020.
“We could see that we would have to act quickly,” said Egger, vice-chairwoman of the PATRIZIA Foundation board. “The first step was to offer immediate help, with hygiene measures, teacher salaries and food. Our initial goal was to keep existing systems and processes up and running.”
Education in times of crisis
Despite immediate priorities, the foundation thought about long-term needs from day one. For example, children and young people should no longer be denied access to a good education, even in times of crisis. With this goal in mind, the PATRIZIA Foundation developed a digital transformation concept called Ready for the Future. It was a complex undertaking, as explained by Petra Ellert, who is responsible for partner management at the PATRIZIA Foundation: “It’s not just about providing access to technology. You need completely new learning strategies and the right methods. Our approach is to empower children to be self-sufficient so they can actively learn by themselves.”
As Auma Obama explained, the reason this is important is that schools in Kenya tend to rely on face-to-face teaching and learning by rote. This contrasts to the Ready for the Future concept, which is designed to tap into children’s inherent curiosity. “Sauti Kuu means ‘powerful voices’,” says Obama. “We’d particularly like to give a voice to children. There’s no chance of being heard properly when you’re in a class of 70 or more pupils. But children should use their voices and play an active part in the exchange of ideas when they’re learning. It’s a central element of child-centred learning and it’s important for their development.”
Positive impact for the entire region
To develop the new concept, experts with the appropriate experience were involved. One such expert is Beatrice Rutishauser Ramm, who offers a wealth of teacher-training expertise going back many years, especially in areas where education takes place under challenging circumstances due to a scarcity of resources. She has developed a teaching method called the Essence of Learning, which will initially be used to create a basis for the Ready for the Future concept. The idea is to enable children and young people to use simple materials and draw on all their senses to grasp topics. They should also be able to use analogue methods to revise topics learned in digital form. Otto Dodoo, project manager for the Ready for the Future initiative in Kenya, grew up in Ghana and knows from personal experience how challenging it can be when there is a lack of appropriate infrastructure. “There’s often no access to electricity and the internet, or even a security concept,” explains Dodoo. He is a believer in Raspberry Pi as an inexpensive and versatile solution.
To implement the project on site in Alego, which lies in the southwest of Kenya, the PATRIZIA Foundation and the Sauti Kuu Foundation are starting by providing training to school management and teaching staff, whose role will be to act as ‘multipliers’ by sharing the concept with others. There are also plans to run workshops for teachers and parents together. Stage three will allow children and young people at the nine partner schools of Sauti Kuu to learn how to use everyday objects and classroom exercises to work independently, how to revise activities at home and thus how to translate purely academic knowledge into everyday situations. “The Sauti Kuu centre in Alego will work like a hub,” says Auma Obama. “We’re working with nine partner schools in the area. The children attend school and visit our centre in parallel. This has a positive impact on the entire region.”
Long-term commitment to education worldwide
Projects of this nature are a major commitment and take time, something everyone involved in the initiative is fully aware of. “And that’s precisely what our work focuses on,” emphasises Constanze Egger. “We think in the long term. We want as many children and young people as possible to have access to a good education so they can lead a better life and become self-sufficient. To do that, we have to forge networks on a local level and, ultimately, change the systems.” The PATRIZIA Foundation makes a commitment to support all of its projects for at least 25 years. To make this possible, the foundation works with partners in each area, whose responsibility is to operate the facilities. “We think very carefully about the people we form partnerships with and ensure we enter into partnerships of equals,” explains Egger.
For Auma Obama, the respective values held by the PATRIZIA Foundation and the Sauti Kuu Foundation make them ideal partners: “At the PATRIZIA Foundation, the focus always lies in how we can make a positive difference to the lives of children. We engage in an ongoing process of dialogue, we learn from each other and we work out solutions together. I’m really looking forward to implementing this project together.”