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Internet café as a supportive educational arena: a case study from the urban slum of Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Political Science. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Political Science. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2011 (English)Conference paper (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The purpose of this paper is to interpret a case study of the unexpected educational impact of an Internet Café – Cyber – in the slum of Kibera, Kenya. Our focus is here to examine the transformation of ICT in development country, and more specific in Nairobi, in Kenya. We consider this an interesting illustration of the spread of globalization to a local community in a development country and how learning takes place in unexpected contexts. Therefore the paper takes off from a comprehensive portrait of one Internet café in the urban slum area and its management, some users and non-regular users. As a part of a long-term field study this analysis is a first analysis of the project and it also aim to illustrate from conception to realization, and implementation of Internet café.

We are studying one actor, a NGO driven commitment that opened an Internet café in Kibera primary to generate income, provide access to Internet for the local people and a more general ambition to develop the local community.  Field work has been on-going and consists of a series of interviews with key informants in the management, and interviews with adolescent customers (users and non-regular users) of the Cyber. Our findings show that there is a clear ambition from the management of the Internet Café to enable computer literacy and bridge digital divides, as well as social and educational progress. Such learning takes place even if it looks like clients mainly use Facebook or browse the Internet. The findings also show that focus on eco-friendly technique to act as a role model was overshadowed by profit-making aims. Even if Internet Café is managed by a NGO they have a clear profit focus. In the beginning the Cyber had a more educating purpose, or a charity purpose, by letting poor people have access to Internet to a cheaply cost, but when established the economic aspects made it behave like a market actor. The main purpose of the management to empower poor people computer literacy is worthy, however doubtful, because it emerges with training and economy. Recent technological development of Internet on the cell phones has challenged the Internet cafés and there are incentives to use the cell phone even for activities that formerly was performed at the Internet Café. If the Internet is in everyone’s pocket the educational arena of the Internet Cafes’ are threaten, but the Cyber´s advantage is tutorial support from peers and management. The Internet Café promotes learning ambitions in the slum and presents opportunities available for them, but it also shows the divides of the knowledge society. Although youth in the slum with computer skills has got increased access to Internet, and their voices has reached out and in some way the digital divide between North and South has decreased.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Internet café, ICT, case study, formal/informal learning, Kenya
National Category
Human Geography
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-66385OAI: diva2:403525
INTED 2011, International Technology, Education and Development Conference, 7-9 March, Valencia, Spain
Available from: 2011-03-17 Created: 2011-03-14 Last updated: 2011-03-17Bibliographically approved

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Internet café as a supportive educational arena : a case study from the urban slum of Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya(97 kB)2899 downloads
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Wihlborg, ElinHansson, Per-Olof
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