United Methodist Discipleship Ministries and Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) went beyond borders in promoting an e-learning education in a Pan Africa Methodism Institution at Kenya Meru British Methodist University popularly known as Kenya Methodist University (KeMu). For the first time, the launch of the e-reader program in an African theological institution included “doctoral students, masters and undergraduates,” said Rev Adriano Kilende. An Angolan clergyperson, Kilende has past experience in launching the e-reader project in other African United Methodist Institutions.
Discipleship Ministries staff member Robin Pippin, accompanied by Kilende, spearheaded the project and explained how the first time the project was launched at Liberia’s Gbarnga Theological College in 2012 and sparked the spread of the e-reader project to other United Methodist Church institutions.
The team spent the entire day training theological doctoral, masters, and undergraduate students together with faculty teachers and staff, including the librarian.
Mr. Lokorio, a doctoral student, acknowledged how essential the e-reader was as it had more books and resources to read from African authors. The students and staff learned that just one single device contained 274 books and documents and had capacity to carry over 1,000 books. The e-readers excited the students as they are simple, easier to carry, and only requiring some IT knowledge. The students acknowledged this great milestone for KeMu as the school made the jump to a digital platform as one of the few higher learning institutions to offer e-learning opportunities.
KeMu entered the project’s program, which lasts three years. During that time, Pippin and the team will follow up with the school, adding more devices and books for e-readers as they monitor the project’s take-off. The students and staff were shocked as they were led through the many features the e-reader devices offer, including: note taking, a dictionary, and marking books without page numbers, among others.
KeMu management appointed Rev. Naftaly Mwendwa to head and monitor the e-reader project. Mwendwa works as a lecturer in the Department of Religious Studies and spent time based at the university’s Nairobi campus before coming to the main campus in Meru.
“You can explore many areas of your scope in the e-reader and if you get lost you may get back to the first page,” Prof. Nahashon Gitonga said of the new e-readers. The project has been an eye-opener to other higher learning institutions. The students are happy to not have to carry so many books in exchange for the e-reader and were overjoyed of the new possibilities the new learning tool offers. Most students have begun calling the device a “library in a library.”