By Lilian Kimeto
In 2013, the President pronounced the roll out of the Digital Literacy programme also known as the Laptop Project. The government put together a multi agency implementation team made of the Ministries of Education, ICT, Energy, Industrialization, The National Treasury, The Attorney General, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC), Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), Kenya Institute of Special Education (KISE) and the ICT Authority. Other key stakeholders represented in the governance include the Kenya Primary Schools Heads Association (KEPSHA) and the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT).
The team quickly got into action to implement the key Vision 2030 Flagship programme in April 2015.
Progress to Date
The Programme has several components being implemented by different Ministries, Departments and Agencies and this is what has been achieved to date:
1. Device Installation in Schools: – So far 21,637 Public Primary Schools have been installed. This represents 99.6 % of all the public primary schools in Kenya. The complete country-wide listing per county, constituency, sub-county and Zone are provided on our micro-site www.digischool.go.ke. The process to install the newly registered 1,302 schools is ongoing.
2. Teacher Training:- 331,00 teachers have been trained on ICT integration,218,253 trained on the use of technology to implement CBC and another 93,009 teachers trained on the use of ICT and device utilization
3. Power Connectivity: – 22,927 schools have been connected to power out of which 19,042 are on the national grid and 3,239 on solar.
4. Digital Content:-Grade one & two content, aligned to the Competency Based Curriculum, has been installed into the devices while Grade three content is under curation and there is a call for curation of Grade 4 content.
Impact of the Programme
It is noteworthy that before the implementation of the Digital Literacy Programme (DLP), only 2,037(10%) of the 20,370 public primary schools in Kenya were connected to power in 2013.
It is clear from the data above that since its implementation, the programme has registered positive outcomes. A report compiled by an Inter-Agency team that visited the proof of concept schools in March 2020 to assess the utilization of devices and readiness for Phase II picks out the following outcomes:
a. Integration ICT into teaching and learning as well as school administration: The teacher devices have really helped schools in administrative work, for example in filling TPAD, candidate registration for KCPE and NEMIS. This has saved schools costs incurred in doing the same in cyber cafes. In Kilifi primary School the administration is using the devices to examine the class eight candidate class.
b. Improved content delivery & Learning Outcomes:-The projectors are helping some teachers in delivering their own content for classes that do not currently have content in the devices i.e. Grade 4 to Grade 8.Some teachers are also using the projectors have helped teachers in researching and streaming content from external sources e.g. Youtube
c. Improved Teacher attitude towards technology:-Most teachers now have a better attitude and perception towards the different components of the programme (devices, content, support, etc.).There is peer support amongst some teachers as they motivate one another to utilize the devices. Some Headteachers are supporting their teachers in their utilization by running lessons using the devices
d. Increased school enrolment in the ASAL counties:- Counties such as Tana River, Turkana and Mandera, have increased enrollment because the children attend school not only for a meal but also to use the devices. Most parents are sending their children to school to use the devices and come teach them on how to use phones for mobile payment transactions. At the same time, absenteeism from school has gone down as more learners together with their parents would like to be in school daily to use the devices. Overall, ICT Authority Officers are doing their level best to offer the first line support to schools. The ICT Authority Officers have also been training teachers on how to use technology and there is an increase in the number of teachers that have internalized DLP’s principles of” learning to use technology “and “using technology to learn”.
According to Francis Warui an Official at the Kenya Primary Schools Headteachers Association (KEPSHA):
“DLP has brought with it a number of benefits that include (a) There is increased interest in learning and more children in the rural areas joining school to access the devices(b)The teachers have found the devices are teaching aids and use them to research, plan lessons, as well as administrative tasks like TPAD, writing minutes in meetings, storing school data and using materials that bring reality for the learner (c) there is more enhanced networking between teachers
Stakeholders from the North Eastern note that the devices have been very useful.According to the Head Teacher at Arbjahan Primary School in Wajir:
“Following the challenge of mass transfer non-local teachers from the region, the remaining teachers have utilized the DLP devices to teach huge classes and this has also increased class attendance in most schools.”
Sheikh Adan Abdi from Wajir also notes that the government did well to provide schools with the Digital devices as it is equipping the children with skills on how to use technology.
Implementation of DLP Phase II
This phase will be targeting Grade 4 to Grade 6 with Advanced Learners Digital Devices as per the school enrolment and 3 Advanced Teacher Digital Devices, 5 Digital Output Devices and 1 Wireless Access Point per school.
This phase will also see the implementation of the internet connectivity to schools dubbed Schoolnet. The connectivity will take various forms as per the unique characteristics of the country. This will utilize the existing National Optic Fibre spanning the entire country. There is also the County Connectivity Project that is providing wireless last mile connectivity to Government institutions and leased capacity from licensed telecom operators including the recently launched loon project.
The Kenyan child continues to benefit from the Programme whose success relies on all of us Kenyans. Communities and the teaching fraternity ought to embrace the use of ICT in teaching and learning.
“All the ingredients for the success of DLP are in place. The digital devices are already in the schools, the teachers have been trained on the use of ICT for teaching and most schools are connected to power. All it takes now is for all education stakeholders to make use of the opportunity presented by technology and facilities which are already in schools. With these already existing resources, we are building on a good foundation even as the government is doing everything possible to surmount the current challenges.” says Dr. Katherine Getao, the ICT Authority CEO.