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School learning to go digital in Kenya

25 September 2009

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Kenya plans to put textbooks in digital format that will radically change the leaning system. The government has also signed deals with technology giants like Intel, Microsoft, and Cisco to further boost e-learning in schools.

Kenya’s education system is gearing up for a key shift as the government and private firms rev up efforts to roll out formal digital learning platform.

Image credits: Kenyan schools go digital

This will see students in public schools use computers for learning from January, if the government project is successful.

In a plan to put textbooks in digital format that promises to radically change the way learning takes place in Kenyan schools, the Kenya Institute of Education has prepared new texts in readiness for the roll out.

Initially, eleven Form One subjects and science and mathematics lessons for classes four and five will be taught in the digital format.

Targeted subjects

The Form One subjects to be taught in the new format include mathematics, Kiswahili, chemistry, history & government, business studies and computer science. Others are English, biology, physics, agriculture and home science.

And yesterday, the Ministry of Education signed a Sh700 million deal with three technology giants—Intel, Microsoft, and Cisco—and USAID for a project that is to further boost e-learning in schools.

"Students will in the long-term do their homework and access presentations and research materials through computers provided by schools"

The project, dubbed “Accelerating 21st Century Education” (ACE), will be implemented in 60 schools (40 primary and 20 secondary). Each of the schools will be provided with 100 networked computers for students’ use, 120 laptops for teachers, and a server supporting wireless access infrastructure.

Students will in the long-term do their homework and access presentations and research materials through computers provided by schools. Under the project, teachers would be expected to prepare lessons that incorporate PowerPoint presentations, along with videos and research materials mostly sourcing material from Internet sites.

Should the digital learning plan work, Kenyan students will join the ranks of those in developed countries like the US where in states such as California and Texas pupils use computers provided by the school for learning, doing homework and hear podcasts of their teachers’ science lectures.

Ministry officials said training would be offered before the materials are sent to over 6,000 secondary and 21,000 primary schools.

“For children to thrive in this globally competitive age, they need certain skills set and the best way to deploy these is through one-to-one e-learning which is the emerging trend globally,” said Robert Fogel, a senior official of Intel Corporation said.

But educationists reckon the future of e-learning is bleak as there is still a large digital divide in country as only a handful of pupils have access to a computer.

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