Since January 2012 Education Exchange has funded an IT training centre in Kitukunyi, a village just outside Wundanyi. The Upper Planet Training Centre offers computer training packages for those who want to update their skills.
We currently offer nine training packages based around Microsoft programs (Word, Excel, PowerPoint etc) Students are encouraged to sit exams- more than 80 students have graduated with IT qualifications. Many have used these to improve their work opportunities (see case studies below).
The success of the Kitukunyi Centre encouraged us to open a second Centre in the village of Mwatunge. Upper Planet Mwatunge opened in February 2016 offering the same full range of IT training packages. After four years in Mwatunge, we moved down into the town of Mwatate (see below)
The absence of IT on the Kenyan secondary curriculum still represents a major opportunity for us which we try to maximize – Form 4 leavers (aged 17-19) need IT for jobs and University students have to use IT for coursework. Many adults in work now need IT and training is necessary to keep them up to date.
Both Upper Planet Centres raise extra income by opening their doors in the evenings as a Cybercafé. This is in itself a very useful community facility. There is also a photocopying and printing service (highly convenient in such rural settings). Both Centres are also agents for MPesa (the Kenyan mobile phone banking scheme). At Kitukunyi in early 2018 we opened a grocery shop in the Centre- again to improve income levels.
The young people who come to our Upper Planet centres are buzzing with ideas and determination. We help them to become more skilled in the vital area of IT, so that they can begin to realise their career plans. Education Exchange donors are giving young Kenyans genuine opportunities to make their way in life and climb out of poverty.
Case Study: Rose explains how Upper Planet has helped her:
“My teacher Mr. George Mwakisha has had a big impact in my life through the skills of computer packages .The skills I learned through him made me understand what a computer is and all that consists of it.
Through learning of the packages I have been able to get to get several job vacancies as an added advantage.Wherever I got to work I did not have much problem hence did not get exhausted since my work was made easier by using the computer for storage of information and making sales. I have been able to meet deadlines with not much pressure and all this was by the use of computer because using computer is fast and reliable.
My learning journey greatly improved since I did not have to write down the notes on books. Typing did not take much of my time and energy too like writing would do.I did my learning anywhere at anytime simply because of the information of all my units were stored in the computer. I did not have to but books and all the resources required in writing hence saving costs, energy carrying around the books and also storage. I was able to do my project and research with less difficulties. I would see my colleagues moving around with books to collect and capture the information and take them to cybers for them to be typed but for me it was easy since I had the skills and I did all on my own saving a lot of costs and time.
Through learning I developed interest in matters concerning the computer and its accessories I therefore opened a shop where I sell computer accessories. I made advertising and sales of my products and also purchases through the computer based on online means. This made it easier for me not to move around looking for customers and also suppliers.
In December 2019 we were able to move the Mwatunge Centre into Mwatate town: good news, because Mwatate is a bustling town of about 7,000 inhabitants, recently made the county capital. Our new space is much bigger and in a very busy part of town: already it’s paying off in terms of pupil numbers. George and his assistant run sessions at 10am, 2pm and 6pm.