Private sector players have embarked on a pilot project to test the viability of using 3G-enabled tablets to boast academic performance in primary schools.
The project, if successful, will be scaled up to cover other public primary schools to complement the Government’s drive to provide laptops to pupils in primary schools in the country. The pilot is being carried out at Nairobi’s Embakasi Garrison Primary School.
The pilot is being spearheaded by Qualcomm Incorporated, Bboxx Kenya – a solar solutions provider; eLimu eLearning Company; iHub Research, Safaricom and Motorola Solutions in collaboration with the Kenya Ministry of Education (MOE).
The project dubbed ‘power of m-learning in Kenya’ aims to create sustainable solutions to challenges in the education sector which contribute to low quality education. With the challenges of electricity facing most schools, the companies are relying on solar energy to power the tablets.
Statistics indicate that 4 out of 10 students miss school daily while 10 per cent of students aged 13 – 14 cannot solve mathematics problems designed for 7 and 8 year olds. Also of all third grade students, 70 per cent cannot complete second grade work.
Because of the unprecedented numbers of students who have enrolled in schools following the free primary education, the teacher-student ratio has gone up to one teacher per 56 students.
“This project provides a sustainable solutions to chronic teacher shortages, high levels of absenteeism among both students and teachers, lack of education and other education materials,” said eLimu CEO Nivi Mukerjee.
The project utilizes eLimu model by taking Kenyan Curriculum from textbooks and adding interactive, engaging and locally designed content through the form of songs, games, quizzes and animations made available through 3G enabled tablet computers.
This saw 250 students in standards seven and eight as well as 35 teachers receive direct access to the eLimu application through individual solar powered tablets. If proved successful, the companies are planning to scale up the project to cover other public primary schools.
“The animations captures their attention and fascinates the learning process. As teachers we no longer cough because of chalk dust and we can also use the tablets to come with schemes of work and lesson plans,” noted Marha Mayenga, a Maths and Science teacher.
The technology aims to improve learning outcomes, child literacy, numeracy, social awareness and cognitive thinking as well as equipping children with life skills that contribute towards making them better future citizens and leaders.
“It is interesting and exciting to be using a tablet in class. The videos and the colourful images makes it easier to remember and understand things. The tablets also have summarized notes which are much simpler to read compared to reading textbooks. This will definitely help me improve my grades,” said Septi Deborah, a class seven student.