ICT integration in Kenyan education system (ICT4E)
While somewhat still at its infancy stage, ICT for Education (ICT4E) remains a vital topic of discussion in the Kenyan educational space, with questions being raised on its application, value and feasibility. With several inhibiting factors elements surrounding the environment within the sector, it has often been asked how practical the application of ICT within the educational sector with regards to developing countries is and this article shall address this same question with a focus on the Kenyan narrative.
During the 2013 presidential campaigns, current Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta promised to provide laptops for Kenyan primary school students, a pledge that has now turned into an ambitious $600m (£425m) Digischool scheme. Three years later on August 5th 2016 we saw the first cargo batch of 5,000 laptops for the primary schools pupils and teachers arrive at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi, the first installment of some 1.2 million devices.
Following this valiant yet risky investment from the government, we must assess the benefits and shortfalls of ICT integration with primary school education curriculum in developing countries. This is informed through Advantech Consulting’s work on the iMlango project, supported by the Kenyan Ministry of Education, Science and Technology working in partnership with the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID).
iMlango is an e-learning programme developed for African schools, with its first phase mobilizing now in Kenya. It delivers digital access, smartcard-based attendance monitoring and online learning tools to primary schools. This initial phase is delivering improved education outcomes to 150,000 children – including 52,000 marginalized girls – in 195 schools.
Benefits to overall primary school atmosphere:
- ICT in schools creates a better environment throughout the school,for example through e-mail, discussion groups and even live chat rooms.
- The use of ICT can have an extremely beneficial motivational influence on a student’s learning capabilities.
- It is proven that students express more positive feelings towards work and education when they use computers to complete tasks.
- Through better tracking of students, teachers have improved behavioral management, thus creating a more positive schooling atmosphere for both students and teachers.
Benefits to students in primary school education:
- Provided with higher quality classes through a much better collaboration between teachers in planning and preparation of class materials.
- Through better analysis of data, classes can be tailored to students’ strengths and weaknesses.
- Encouragement of independent and active learning, self-responsibility and maturity for learning.
- Flexibility of ‘anytime, anywhere’ access.
- Development of writing skills through the use of word programs, fluency, originality and elaboration is also greatly improved.
- Students, who used educational technology in school felt more successful in school, were more motivated to learn and have increased self-confidence and self-esteem.
Benefits to teachers in primary school education:
- Greater flexibility in relation to when and where tasks can be carried out.
- Gains in ICT literacy skills.
- The use of computers during classes will motivate students to continue to use computers to learn outside of school hours.
- An increasing number of resources and funds are being pumped into putting ICT in schools at the moment. The cost of laptops, wireless broadband and even projectors contribute to a very large percentage of a schools budget, this is exacerbated by the current economic climate.
- As much as this might be the case, the government of Kenya has taken significant steps in reducing this cost. For example, a recent statement showed that the government has spent Sh32 billion to electrify 23,000 schools, which were connected either to the national grid or solar power providing a good platform of the laptop programme.
- Instead of using their laptops or tablets for educational purposes, more often than not students may stray away from educational purposes of their gadgets and visit social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter. This can all be managed, however, through simple monitoring software that can provide parameters for the wandering young minds.
- Listening to the teachers is no longer their main priority. Students become too focused on social media sites and playing games. As a result of this, they may find it difficult to focus on what is trying to be taught in class.
- One of the reasons for ICT not reaching it’s full potential in education in the foundation stage is teacher’s attitude.
- Some see it as a potential tool, whereas others may see it as unhealthy, and also that it may hinder learning.
- Many teachers are not up-to-date with the newest pieces of technology, and many would certainly be uncomfortable to take on such a massive change in teaching methods.
- This may however be managed well through capacity building and behavioral change interventions among teachers.
Disadvantages of ICT in the Primary Education System
It would be extremely unjust to claim that there are absolutely no downfalls associated with the introduction of ICT in the primary school education system, as you can be sure that they do (unfortunately) exist.
ICT Literacy in Teachers:
With that being the case, it is difficult to argue against the relevance and importance of ICT integration into the education sector. Given that teachers are reasonable, and eager to learn new methods, the future generations would vastly benefit in how they will be educated. We must remind ourselves that our world is evolving at an exponential rate, and the future generations must be introduced to ICT as soon as possible, with education being the lowest hanging fruit as far as the how is concerned.