Kenya looks to resurrect digital learning

Days after the treasury designated Kshs 17.58 billion to the East African country's digital learning programme, the ministry of ICT in Kenya has set up a three tier committee tasked with establishing a framework through which to adopt e-learning across the country.

Under this new plan the ICT ministry aims to have 1.2 million devices in the next two years to cover all public primary schools. The pilot phase of 150 schools is scheduled to begin in September this year.

However this time round, the ministry will look at all areas, including those previously ignored in the implementation of the programme under the One Laptop Per Child programme (OLPC).

"We want to see the success of the project. That's why we are adopting a different strategy which focuses on the digital content for learners rather than the purchase of devices. We first have ensured that schools have adequate electrical power. We are also ensuring that teachers are trained in ICT," Fred Matiang'i, the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of ICT said.

The Digital Learning Programme will have three oversight bodies that will look into the issues of e-learning.

The first oversight team will include of Attorney General and Cabinet Secretaries from the ICT, National treasury; Industrialisation and enterprise development; Education, Science and Technology; Energy and Petroleum; and Devolution and planning.

The inter-ministerial committee will have the principal secretaries from the above ministries while the technical team will consist of Teacher Service Commission, Kenya National Union of Teachers and Kenya Primary Schools Heads Association.

The move is seen as an attempt to correct mistakes made during the failed implementation in 2014, where teachers were not brought into the fold with adequate training and subsequently did not support the programme fully.

In the same year government plans to roll out the OLPC programme were thwarted when the courts ruled that the tender given to Olive Telecommunications was irregular and that the company did not possess the manufacturing power.

Today, the office of the Attorney General has been roped in to review the legalities including procurement issues to ensure the smooth sailing of this programme.

Lack of proper infrastructure in schools, such as electricity and lack of digitised material from publishers, has been a concern and one that is front-of-mind for the Ministry in this second implementation.

"Already a strategy critical to the success of the program has been formalised as constituting four main areas which are Policy and Strategy, Digital Content Management, Device and Infrastructure Management and Program sustainability. Among the policies to be formulated are cloud computing strategy and ICT standards," the ministry said.

The programme will also look to employ local talent in assembling the laptops in the country under the Ministry of Industrialisation and Enterprise development, opening up opportunities for job creation in the process.