Government bid for IT in education fails to click with teachers
Posted Friday, September 9 2011 at 00:00
Lack of enthusiasm to use computers as a teaching aid is slowing down the adoption of the Sh24 million Elimika e-learning portal run by the Kenya Institute of Education (KIE).
The portal is one of the government efforts to streamline the education sector in line with Vision 2030 and promote the use of information technology in schools.
The project was meant to help drive excellence in teaching but the adoption rate of the service has been low and KIE is calling for teachers to adopt use of the content in classrooms.
Out of the 260,000 teachers under the Teachers’ Service Commission, only about 200 teachers have enrolled to use the portal despite it being user friendly for anyone with basic computer knowledge to use.
“Elimika is an open platform e-learning tool that is open to all educators who want to improve their proficiency in ICT,” says Ms Esther Gacicio, assistant director of e-learning at the KIE.
“Since it was rolled out, I can say that the response has been good because we are currently having more than 200 teachers enrolled.”
For new users there are online tutors at hand to guide them to derive maximum value out of the portal. In addition, it is interactive and teachers can discuss new topics, post comments and chat with one another.
Elimika also provides digital learning resources for other institutions like the Kenya Police. Primary school teachers have been noted as more receptive to the platform compared to those in secondary schools.
“Once the teachers are able to learn how to make use out of this content, we hope that they would be able to transfer this knowledge to their students,” said Ms Gacicio.
Other than the techno phobia among teacher, there is, however, a need to establish computer infrastructure, especially in rural areas so that more teachers could be brought on board. This includes provision of affordable personal computers, laptops and broadband Internet.
“Some of the challenges that we face involve dealing with the digital divide,” she says. “Some places do not even have electricity so it becomes challenging to bring educators from these areas on board.”
Last week, findings of a countrywide study on access of new technology found out that there were some sub locations with no access to voice or data services.
The government has been trying to link up rural areas in order to bridge some of these access gaps. Setting up of Internet service providers (ISPs) in rural areas face infrastructure and capital hurdles. Through the Kenya ICT Board, the government has provided an incentive to investors in the form of grants to set up of digital villages.
According to Hellen Kirui, an ICT Board official who is part of the team in charge of the project, efforts to bridge the digital divide are bearing fruit.
“There is a remarked improvement from what we are seeing on the field. There are areas that were not connected to the Internet but now have access to through the efforts of various entrepreneurs who have set up digital villages,” she said.
“Others, however, need more time to set up because they just received the funding but we hope that as more rural areas become connected the access gaps will slowly be narrowed.”
In the last call for proposals for Digital Villages by the ICT Board, it received 37 proposals with some coming from as far as northern Kenya.
The next call for proposals is expected in the first week of next month and the board says this number would increase based on the success of the already established digital villages.
The digitisation of the school curriculum is seen as one of the remedies to the challenges affecting the education sector, especially after the government introduced free education in public schools.