CPS Faculty Member Helps Children in Rural Kenya

Kenya Connect
Image used courtesey of Kenya Connect.
August 20, 2017

Despite a free primary education system, over a million children in Kenya do not attend school. Dr. Olivia Blackmon, assistant program director and faculty for the Integrated, Information Science & Technology program, was recently selected as a Fulbright Specialist to work with Kenya Connect (KC), a nonprofit organization, which offers public health programs, educational resources and a solar light initiative to improve educational access to more than 17,000 students in Machakos County, Kenya.

Blackmon will design and conduct a comprehensive evaluation of KC’s educational and health campaign programs and make recommendations to assist KC and ensure its programs are effectively meeting the communities’ needs, when she travels to Kenya for a four-week grant period during the summer of 2018.

Blackmon will conduct research stateside evaluating how well Kenya Connects programs work to lift the barriers to education in rural areas, especially poor nutrition and health. KC designed a multi-pronged set of programs to address access to education for primary and secondary schools. They offer public health programs such as water towers, de-worming activities, hand washing, liquid soap initiatives and provision of feminine hygiene products.

They also promote literacy with a 3,000-book library, a lab of 30 computers and other educational resource materials. Additionally, they support educational access through a “rent to own” solar light initiative.

Blackmon’s evaluation will include collection of qualitative and quantitative data, and her final report will identify challenges and areas for improvement. She will share her finding with KC to support effective decision making on future program offerings and potential expansion to other rural areas in ways that are most cost-effective, sustainable and supportive of improved student outcomes.