KWALE, Kenya, Mar 21 – In a bid to fulfil one of its 2013 election pledges, the government through the Ministry of Information Communications and Technology (ICT) has officially launched Digischool, a program that will see primary school pupils and teachers given tablets and laptops.
The program includes the disbursement of government branded tablets to pupils and laptops to teachers.
According to ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru the government will start distributing the devices to urban, peri-urban and rural areas around the country in the next two weeks. He also said that the government is set to receive 10,000 devices from manufacturers in the next four weeks for further distribution.
“This is part of the government’s promise to ensure that school going children are able to reason like 21st citizens,” Mucheru said.
Digischool is a product of the government’s Digital Literacy Programme that is running on a pilot basis in 150 select primary schools across Kenya, after which it will be rolled out to more than the 22,000 public primary schools.
The programme is expected to be rolled out in all schools around the country by August 2017.
-The Devices –
The devices will come loaded with content generated and digitalized by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), the institution tasked to do so by the government.
However, only the Standard One curriculum has been fully digitalized.
According to Mucheru, Standard Two content will be fully digitalised in the coming weeks while Standard Three curriculum is expected to be completely digitalised by the end of the year with others following course.
Over 60,000 teachers countrywide have been trained by KICD on how to use their own devices and those of their pupils in a bid to enhance functionality. Mucheru also said that teachers’ laptops had deeper features which include the ability to create and upload the curriculum.
“With the support of the operators, schools shall therefore have broadband available in every school,” he added.
The launch of Digischool follows similar initiatives to digitalize public schools by both public and private sectors.
-The Issue of Co-existence-
Already, digital learning solutions such as Shupavu 291 and eLimu among others have been launched by private sector players.
Shupavu 291 for instance, is a mobile learning tool launched through a partnership between Safaricom Limited and Eneza Education. It seeks to digitalize education through the SMS platform on any kind of a mobile phone. eLimu on the other hand, is a customized tablet containing primary school curriculum content.
To ensure that the content generated on all these devices whether generated by the government or by private sector players, Mucheru said that a requirement has been passed by the government to ensure that no content is passed without consultation with KICD.
“As it is, we want KICD to become the regulator so that they can look over any content that is being generated and to ensure that our children are protected.”
Lack of electricity will not hinder the use of the devices.
According to Mucheru, the adoption of geothermal as a source of energy for electricity over hydro energy was proving to be more dependable and offered a lasting solution.
“A total of 20,622 schools have been connected to the national electricity grid. This is expected to help in the implementation of the government’s promise.”
Completion of the digital literacy program is expected to be rolled out in all primary schools around the country by August 2017.
Mucheru was speaking during the launch of this year’s Connected Summit Conference that has seen public and private sector ICT players gather under the theme of ‘Bridging the Service Gap’.