Namulanta Kombo is the Events Manager & Research Associate at CEI's East Africa Hub
A key objective of the Government of Kenya’s education policy is to promote information and communications technology (ICT) as a tool for learning. Under the 2006 National Information and Communication Technology Strategy for Education and Training, the government sought to integrate ICT into the education system, improving its accessibility and fostering proficiency among youth. This was meant to fall in line with a wider framework of economic development, wealth and employment creation, and the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.
However, progress on the ICT front has fallen short of expectations. In the Ministry of Education’s Strategic Plan for 2008-2012, the slow integration of ICT in operations and programs is specifically identified as one of the Ministry’s key weaknesses.
ICT Tools for Teachers
Meaningful ICT incorporation is not easy to achieve - it must include aspects of stakeholder buy in, quality training and efficient systems. However, there are a number of innovative e-learning platforms already in existence within Kenya’s education sector that showcase possible methods for utilizing ICT effectively to enhance education. Understanding the challenges of implementing new technologies, many of these programs focus on providing support for teachers. A few local examples are:
The Teacher Education and Professional Development (TEPD)
Implemented by FHI360, this program seeks to tackle the issue of teacher capacity when it comes to ICT. Facilitating a partnership between the Government of Kenya, Intel, Microsoft, and Cisco, the program has provided ICT materials and training to 20 primary schools, 3 secondary schools and 3 teacher training colleges. Not unlike TEPD’s broader teacher training efforts, ICT training seeks to foster a more student-centered and interactive classroom, using e-content as a means for improving the classroom experience and learning outcomes. Currently, more than 290 teachers use the ICT tools provided by TEPD teams, whose impact on learning outcomes is being measured to inform broader technology uptake throughout Kenya.
Using ICT as a means of connecting learners globally, the Global Teenager Project uses web-based classrooms as a platform for students to discuss ongoing issues such as the environment, immigration, and HIV. Grouped into “learning circles,” pupils are able to improve their communication skills, enrich their cultural understanding, and develop ICT proficiency. More than 20,000 students in over 40 countries have been brought together digitally for research and dialogue. In Kenya, GTP-K focuses on training teachers to develop their own teaching materials using ICT. Additionally, the program donates computers to schools with great need, provides guidance on using learning circles effectively, and helps teachers and students connect to other learning resources.
Founded by Kenyan teachers, Eneza Education (formerly known as MPrep) uses technology already largely available to students - mobile phones - to enhance learning outcomes in remote schools, providing students with study tools and teachers with a means of collecting performance and learning data. A mobile quiz program allows students to reinforce learning concepts from the national curriculum, while teachers are able to track students’ progress and collect data on their performance, identifying their strengths and weaknesses. Currently working with 400 partner schools, Eneza hopes to expand this learning solution to 200,000 schools by 2014.
Scaling What Works
Starting small, these programs aim to provide teachers with the adequate materials and skills to effectively integrate ICT into their classrooms, and into their student’s lives. Though these approaches are modest in reach thus far, they serve as encouraging pilot examples of what could be done across the entire education system, in partnership with the Kenyan Government.
As we look to improve ICT access and proficiency in Kenya, it is important that we identify and understand the impact of these and similar initiatives. Acting as a benchmark, these templates can and should be assessed, adopted, and adapted as necessary to incorporate ICT at various levels of education.
~ Namulanta Kombo