Politics and policy

Public-private partnerships pave way for ICT in State-run schools

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An e-learning class in session:  Last  year,   the Kenya Institute of Education (KIE)  launched the first phase of a curriculum digitisation project that will enable both public secondary and primary schools to start offering e-learning. Reuters

An e-learning class in session: Last year, the Kenya Institute of Education (KIE) launched the first phase of a curriculum digitisation project that will enable both public secondary and primary schools to start offering e-learning. Reuters 

By MARK OKUTTAH

Posted  Wednesday, January 13  2010 at  18:31
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Several initiatives to computerise public schools by government and the private sector are paving the way to electronic learning in Kenya which 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.

Current statistics from the Ministry of Education indicates that less than 2 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, through the Public Private Partnership programs the Ministry of Education expects to boost this number over the next three years.

Some of these initiatives includes the digitisation of school syllabus by the Kenya Institute of Education; computer donations and networking by 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.

Last year the Kenya Institute of Education (KIE) launched the first phase of a curriculum digitisation project that will enable both public secondary and primary schools to start offering e-learning.

The Minister for Education, Prof Sam Ongeri, says the move will harness access to technology driven practices and reduce disparities in curriculum delivery. “Curriculum review efforts will from now be geared towards modernization, including intensification of the integration of ICTs to cover all sub-sectors” said Prof Ongeri. “A number of people have been coming with foreign e-learning content for us to adopt but we have rejected all this so that we can develop our own.”

The initiative started in 2005, and KIE has been working through other partners and stakeholders. Other than developing the e-curriculum, KIE has also been involved in computer education pilot studies in 19 schools across the country.

Education Permanent Secretary, Prof Karega Mutahi, notes that 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 program and the use of solar power.

KIE has also developed an online course for orientation of primary teachers on the curriculum interpretation and implementation.

The Clinton Global initiative last year in September launched 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 will 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 student and teacher use and train approximately 7,000 teachers to effectively integrate ICT in the classroom.

In addition, Cisco, Intel and Microsoft will work together to establish a School Technology Innovation Centre (STIC) in Nairobi — a model that has been promoted in other countries through the Microsoft Partners in Learning programme. The centre will be dedicated to research on innovative emerging technology solutions and serve as a repository and showcase for best-known methods of teaching, learning and educational technology.

“ACE ties in with our mission to increase access to education, improve the quality of education and raise school enrolment rates for children from marginalised areas of East Africa,” said USAid Kenya Mission Director Erna Kerst. “We hope this collaboration will encourage more Kenyan children to complete school, improve teacher training practices and enhance professional development for teachers and school administrators with support from USAid.”

Wireless infrastructure

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