E-learning project for primary and secondary education on course

Luis Carlos Gonzalez, Costa Rica IT Collaboration Service Manager for Intel Corporation, guides children of the Karibu Centre in Thika on how to use the new innovation Intel Classmate PC. Photo/COURTESY
Luis Carlos Gonzalez, Costa Rica IT Collaboration Service Manager for Intel Corporation, guides children of the Karibu Centre in Thika on how to use the new innovation Intel Classmate PC. Photo/COURTESY 

The quest to adopt e-learning in the primary and secondary education curriculum enters the home stretch this year providing teachers and students with means of accessing learning content remotely.

The process of digitising Form One, Two, and Three syllabi is complete, with the Form Four one expected to be finalised in the first quarter of this year, said Kenya Institute of Education (KIE), the parastatal charged with overseeing the modernisation of the public education curriculum.

KIE said it also intends to complete digitisation of the primary school curriculum for Standard Four to Seven.

The project, a partnership between KIE and the Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK), aims at digitising the current syllabi to enhance e-learning in the country.

After the project’s completion, schools will be able to offer education online. The project comes at a time when the government has allocated Sh2 billion for equipping five schools in each of the 47 counties with computers.

“The digitised format for Form One and Two is already out in the market and we are currently finalising on the Form Three syllabus,” said KIE e-learning assistant director Esther Gachicio.

“We also expect to roll out digitised formats of the Form Four syllabus in the first quarter of this year.”

Parents with children in public schools have often complained of appalling learning conditions and overstretched resources.

In addition, prices of school text books have been steadily rising with parents having to dig deeper into their pockets every year.

The pilot phase of the programme kicked off in August 2008 in 16 schools across eight provinces at an initial capital of Sh15,208,000. CCK supplied each of the selected schools with a server, four computers, and a printer.

As part of their contribution to the project, telecommunication operators in Kenya will provide free Internet connectivity for at least 12 months. The schools were selected randomly from areas with telecommunications network coverage.

CCK has funded the project to the tune of Sh33,208,000. The funds were used in procuring hardware and software to facilitate the development of digital content for Form One students.

KIE provided specialised staff, for example teachers IT specialists, and curriculum developers, who have helped develop digital content for eleven Form One subjects.

“So far the material that we have made available has been well received in the market and the feedback is that students are finding it more desirable and effective than the conventional system”, said Ms Gacicio. “It is fun, interactive, and where adopted it has given a completely new approach to the learning process.”

Efforts to digitise the curriculum go hand in hand with Elimika, the open platform e-learning tool from KIE that targets educators aiming to improve their proficiency in ICT.

Once teachers are equipped with Elimika’s ICT skills, they are expected to help students navigate through the digitised content in an interactive process.

Teaching aids

KIE is quick to state that the digitisation of the syllabus is not meant to replace print editions or the human resource.

“We are providing the digital content as a supplement to the existing recommended print editions and they are meant to be used as teaching aids for teachers and not as replacements of either teachers or printed books,” said Ms Gacicio.

“What makes text books expensive is the fact that many parents go for several text books for one subject, you find a parent buying four books for Mathematics or English while two books per subject are enough.” However, more remains to be done if the country is to achieve its goal of adopting e-learning by the year 2030.

Two weeks ago, the government said it needed Sh7 billion to invest in ICT infrastructure in more than 6,000 secondary schools.
This, according to education minister Prof Sam Ongeri, is in addition to Sh1.8 billion that has already been spent to equip five schools per constituency with ICT equipment.

“We have already developed a digital curriculum for students from Standard Four to Seven in primary schools and Form One and Two in secondary schools and this has already been rolled out to all schools in the country,” said Prof Ongeri recently.

“We have encountered some cases of piracy where unscrupulous operators are making copies of our DVDs and offering them cheaply in the black market,” said Ms Gacicio.

“The Form one Syllabus has been most affected, but we have data protecting the rest of the modules making it very difficult to reproduce.”