Microsoft in partnership with inABLE has opened an assistive technology computer lab at the Likoni School for the Blind to support the school and the visually impaired in the community with digitalized learning materials. The opening of the computer lab is part of Microsoft philanthropies initiative which aims to increase access to youth learning computer science and building a more accessible and inclusive world. The lab which will see more than 500 pupils benefit is part of a larger initiative by Microsoft to create educational, employment and entrepreneurial opportunities to more than 300 million youth around the world. This is a follow up initiative launched in Kenya, after the successful launch of a similar project in 2009 at the Thika Primary School for the Blind.
Speaking during the opening, Microsoft Philanthropies Manager for Sub Sahara Africa, Alex Nyingi, reiterated the Company’s commitment to enabling more young people to achieve their potential, “This partnership will involve training for students on how to code, create software and websites to boost the innovative and creative skills for the visually impaired. As Microsoft continues to introduce more and more products, students who get this training will be provided with early creators’ editions so that they can also share feedback to the product teams at Microsoft.”
According to the National Council for Persons with Disabilities, 15% of the Kenyan population is comprised of people living with disabilities. Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more, and with Microsoft’s passion about increasing accessibility to technology to people of all abilities, Microsoft philanthropies have partnered with the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of ICT and inABLE to provide assistive computer labs for persons with disabilities in Kenya. In collaboration with stakeholders in the education sector, Microsoft is at the forefront of implementing a basic computer-training program developed for learners with blindness and low vision.
inABLE Executive Director Irene Mbari-Kirika extended her appreciation to the Kenyan government through the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of ICT for their continued support and collaboration in this, “We enthusiastically commend the government for their support of expanding Computer-Lab-for-the-Blind program and appreciate the commitment behind the MoU between MOEST and inABLE that was signed off on the 23rd February 2017 to enable accessibility education at all levels of learning in Kenya.”
“We piloted the partnership with InAble together with the Ministry of Education in 2016 to increase access to education by learners with visual impairment. Following the successful partnership, we are now pleased to be rolling out a computer lab at Likoni Primary for the Blind School whose aim is to implement basic computer skills. We take pride in knowing that we are playing an active role in shaping the future of youth and thank inABLE and the government through the Ministry of ICT and Ministry of Education for collaborating with us through this journey” added Mr Nyingi.
The Ministry of Education, Ministry of ICT, inAble and other partners such as Strathmore University iLab will also participate in research and development, in a bid to measure the impact of the computer training programs to inform policy and decision making at ministry level.