In Nairobi, Kenya, students at Mcedo Beijing School are utilizing virtual reality (VR) technology to embark on unique school trips. VR is being integrated into classrooms in Kenya to enhance traditional learning and teach children about social and environmental issues in a more immersive way.
The organizers of these VR experiences recognize that it can be challenging for students to fully grasp topics like plastic pollution and climate change when they are only taught the theory. However, with VR technology, students can witness firsthand the impacts of these issues on the environment.
At Mcedo Beijing School in Nairobi’s Mathare neighborhood, students have been learning about waste collection and segregation. Through the use of VR, they have gained an understanding of the importance of separating plastics and organic waste. This knowledge has inspired students like Annette Jeptoo to take care of the environment by altering their behavior, such as choosing to buy soda in glass bottles rather than plastic ones.
Ukwenza VR, a Kenya-based social enterprise, primarily works with schools in low-income areas, offering virtual field trips that would otherwise be financially out of reach for these students. The enterprise focuses on addressing issues such as plastic pollution and climate change. By utilizing VR, students learn about the dangers of plastic waste and are motivated to take action to mitigate its impact.
Njeri Ndonga, co-founder, and CEO of Ukwenza VR, highlights the challenge of getting children to care enough about complex issues like plastic pollution and climate change to inspire behavioral change. VR helps in this regard by enabling students to conceptualize the problem and understand the consequences of their actions. For example, they can visualize how throwing away a plastic bottle can ultimately harm marine life and, consequently, impact their own well-being if they consume affected fish. VR facilitates connecting their actions to the broader chain of events, making it more personal and tangible.
Education specialist Anne Njine supports the use of virtual reality in education. She emphasizes that VR helps children develop empathy toward the issues they are learning about. VR’s effectiveness lies in its ability to engage students in project-based activities, fostering collaboration and discussions. When students witness turtles swallowing papers underwater or observe overflowing dumpsites, it prompts discussions on what can be done to address these issues before they worsen.
Overall, by incorporating VR into the classroom, Kenyan students are gaining a deeper understanding of social and environmental challenges, fostering empathy, and taking active measures to make a positive impact in their communities.