- Several initiatives to computerise public schools by both government and the private sector are paving the way to electronic learning in Kenya.
- This is one of the recent landmark developments that mark Kenya’s 50 years as a nation.
- Improved student performance is proof that learning has become better, easier and more interesting.
- The initiative is expected to bridge the gap between students who lack access to quality education due to lack of materials and good teachers.
Several initiatives to computerise public schools by both government and the private sector are paving the way to electronic learning in Kenya.
This may not only change how students access learning materials but also boost the quality of education, especially in remote areas where there are no libraries.
This is one of the recent landmark developments that mark Kenya’s 50 years as a nation.
Current statistics from the Ministry of Education indicate that less than four per cent of public primary schools have access to basic computer studies and only 800 out of the 4,000 public secondary schools have computers.
However, the government’s free primary laptop project and other Public Private Partnership programmes intend to reverse the situation.
Some of these initiatives include the digitisation of school syllabus by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD); computer donations and networking by the telecommunication regulator, Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK), and a partnership programme by the Clinton Global Initiative, Cisco, Intel, Microsoft and USAid aimed at improving education in Kenya.
In 2009, the KICD launched the first phase of a curriculum digitisation project aimed at enabling both public secondary and primary schools to start offering e-learning.
The initiative started in 2005 and KICD has been working through other partners and stakeholders.
Other than developing the e-curriculum, KICD has also been involved in computer education pilot studies in 19 schools across the country.
The digitised content won’t replace teachers but will act as teaching aids to compliment their work.
To address some of the challenges facing implementation of e-learning such as lack of electricity supply to most public schools and low ICT knowledge among the teachers, the Government through the ministry of energy has prioritised provision of electricity to learning institutions through the rural electrification programme and the use of solar power.
Statistics from Ministry of Education indicate that only 2,037 primary schools have electricity connections in the country, translating to only 10 per cent of the total schools.
Another 8,147 schools are near the main electricity supply while the remaining 10,184 schools are far from the main grid.
These represent 40 and 50 per cent of the schools, respectively.
KICD has also developed an online course for orientation of primary teachers on the curriculum interpretation and implementation.
“In the initial phase we shall train two teachers and the head teacher from every school through a cascade model on ICT integration in education.
A team of 3,000 ToTs shall train teachers at the zone level in venues that shall be identified,” said Education secretary Jacob Kaimenyi.
The Government has identified 6,000 primary schools that will pioneer the ambitious laptop-for-schools project just three months away.
The Jubilee government’s flagship project will be implemented in three phases, the first of which is projected to cost Sh22 billion.
About 425,000 pupils will be provided with the laptops starting in January, out of the 1.3 million children expected to join Standard One next year.
Other projects include one by the Clinton Global Initiative launched in 2009 in collaboration with Kenya’s Ministry of Education, the Accelerating 21st Century Education (ACE) project aimed at improving the quality of primary and secondary education through the effective use of information and communications technology (ICT).
The various bodies are developing a best-in-class model for deploying ICT in education. Reflecting a combined commitment valued at more than $9 million, ACE aims to create “one-to-one e-learning” classrooms in 60 focus schools across Kenya.
One-to-one e-learning, a model in which every student has access to a computer, helps foster an environment where young people can develop skills such as problem solving and critical thinking.
ACE will distribute more than 6,000 networked computers for use by students and teachers and train approximately 7,000 teachers to effectively integrate ICT in the classroom.
In addition, Cisco, Intel and Microsoft will establish a School Technology Innovation Centre (STIC) in Nairobi — a model that has been promoted in other countries through the Microsoft Partners.
The centre is dedicated to research on innovative emerging technology solutions and serves as a repository and showcase for best-known methods of teaching, learning and educational technology.
In the ACE project, one of the schools that have benefited from the initiative is Bour-Algy Primary School located roughly nine kilometres south of Garissa, in Kenya’s arid northeast.
Through the programme, the School received solar equipment that is providing a reliable power source for computer hardware and lighting for the equipment storage room, two classrooms and security.
Mwijabu Primary School in Mombasa is also another that has benefited and implementation of the ICT component has seen increased growth in school registration and improved performance.
“Students know how to use computers as well as access the server,” says Ms Janet Moraya, a teacher at Mwijabu.
“With the integration of ICT in other lessons has motivated students and also captured their interest.
This has become possible because learners can now see things they would have otherwise not been able to see and this helps them comprehend better.
Improved student performance is proof that learning has become better, easier and more interesting”.
In July last year Starehe Boys Centre, Safaricom and InterSol developed a learning management system that allows virtual access to its lessons.
“All our lessons from now henceforth, will be recorded and shared on Safaricom cloud for other students in this country and world over to watch and listen to,” said Mr Isaac Kinyanjui a Biology teacher, who is also in charge of the ICT programme at Starehe Boys Centre in a previous interview.
The initiative is expected to bridge the gap between students who lack access to quality education due to lack of materials and good teachers.