Ken Monjero, a Kenyan science educator, has found a way to engage children during the global pandemic through his innovative approach to online learning.
“We’re trying to bring together children and young people to think about issues and how they relate to COVID and divert their minds so they’re happier,” says Monjero, who goes by the nickname Dr. Fun.
His Fun & Education Global Network (FEGNe) emphasizes what Monjero calls a “minds-on and hands-on” approach to learning. It uses fundamentals of life that are applicable to education, but packaged with fun to enhance positivity.
On July 1, FEGNe will launch its Agri-Covid Gardens program. “No one had thought of connecting COVID to agriculture,” Monjero says. “With the pandemic, more food is being consumed at home, less produced by industry due to fewer employees and poor access to farms due to travel restrictions. The call to action involves children, youth and adults to start Agri-Covid gardens. Children will undergo training and mentorship across the globe. We’re attracting and teaching kids about agriculture and nutrition. We want to encourage children to engage in farming and give back to their communities.
“We look forward to the online Fun & Education Global Network International Conference in which children will share their Agri-Covid gardens outcome,” he adds.
Many parents report that their children are resistant to the on-line lessons that schools are offering in the wake of shutdowns imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Monjero says. And parents have found they aren’t really up to speed, in terms of directing their children’s schoolwork.
“It’s created a lot of issues,” says Monjero, who decided to adopt a more informal approach that kids will enjoy. “Fun comes first. We want it to be learner-oriented and full of fun experiences.”
The platform helps children to discover their unique potentialities and the process of actualization, which allows them to become the heroes and heroines they’re intended by nature to be, he explains.
“This platform endeavors to impart adequate self-understanding as a tool to guide the young learners to making informed decisions and choices as part of problem-solving skills,” says Monjero, a 2018 Alliance for Science Global Leadership Fellow.
Monjero and the other instructors also use demonstrations, experiments, science shows, conversation, self-directed learning, networking, coaching, mentoring and performance planning to help children achieve overall success. Peer learning is another important approach, he says.
“We’re trying to engage children globally so they learn together and help each other out,” he says. “We don’t just do lectures but engage them with provocative discussions that are designed to elicit a response.”
FEGNe also guides children in the direct application of skills, theories and models, Monjero says.
“We expose children to hands-on learning in real-world settings, creative projects and independent-directed research, and in turn apply what is gained from the applied experience to academic learning,” he says. “Our applied learning activities may occur outside or embedded in traditional classroom experience.”
In an attempt to help children think about what they may want to do for a career, the platform helps them “look into their inner passion and drive it to actualization,” Monjero says. “Through basic, applied education and mentorship, children explore diverse environments, learn to handle issues, make decisions and adjust to change.”
In general, the platform benefits children and parents by fostering innovation and creativity with limited resources, building resilience, developing international networks and encouraging home-based experimentation, online teamwork, knowledge application and the use of modern technology. Ultimately, young learners are equipped with problem-solving skills.
“The benefits cut across to learners, parents and industry,” Monjero says.