School of Open Initiative, Kenya


Jamlab is a community of passionate young co-creators who use resources availed to them to achieve individual as well as societal goals. Creativity and Innovation are words playing in our lips as much as they are playing in other people’s lips around the world. The difference is that, we believe that neither innovation nor creativity is a one-man thing.. it needs a supportive community  and even more, a non-prejudicial community which is what we provide.

As much as we work we work within ourselves, when we heard about the School of Open Initiative. We understood that the School of Open’s core focus is to make people understand the value of “Open,” build and share upon resources, which is in summary, what Jamlab aims to do. This time, the idea was to reach out to young high school students, expose them and make them understand the power inherent in an Internet they understood.

Jamlab officially began work with the School of Open launch program in Kenya’s Precious Blood Secondary school Riruta.

Introducing the concept of  “Open”  (which we set out to do) to a group of enthusiastic high school students made us redesign the approach as to which it has been done before according to research.
Instead of focusing on the idea of giving a detailed explanation and introduction on what Creative Commons licences and Open Resources are first, we sought to inculcate the value of Internet at a broader scope. Having done this before in our previous work with the Kuyu Project, we showcased a couple of videos on Friday to the general school population.

Following this, what happened was ecstatic!!! Expecting that only a few people would be interested with the events of the next week, we were proved wrong. We got over 200 applications of people wanting to join the next week’s program. Out of the 200, we were forced to choose only 44 a number that would grow to 50 as a result of ambitious unstoppable people.
Only students who would be able to develop an idea and be devoted enough to work through it a week using available Education resources would be accepted into the program.

With them, we delved deeper into the concept of Creative Commons. This is especially because I realised that these young high school students would never realise the value of “Open” as the technology world does if they do not truly appreciate the Internet in its entirety. Hence, we bridged the two concepts.

We made them truly value the Internet and what it can do in their lives. We made them also realise that they can actually achieve their goals if they see the Internet as a tool. We did this by actually making them do small individual passion oriented projects through the use of Open Education Resources. It has been fun. And the students absolutely love it. We are hoping to scale this project to the rest of the country by the end of the year. Hopefully, to the rest of the continent some time.

Slowly, the girls realised the importance of Creative Commons and how much of a difference it has made in their lives. The most captivating moment was when we came to understand that the students had been so sold to the idea of a “Commons” that they sought to start releasing their own education material, from class, to share with  thousands of students in Kenya, either from different schools or  those not in school at all.

Looking at them work at all these small projects they have began working on, I realised that for some of us, Creative Commons may be a policy thing.. However,  for these girls, the Internet is a link between them and a better life.  They are following their dreams because the Internet does not inhibit that. Now, they want to participate. They want to share, they want to learn, they want to discover, they want to collaborate and they want to create. Creative Commons is not just a policy thing to them. It is the avenue that will make all this possible. Admiring their devotion and hope, I understand now, that they aren’t working for a better life any more. They are labouring for a life they themselves can better. That is the hope that CC brings!