Kenya: Schools E-Learning Project Excites ICT Sector

Computing

Players in the ICT sector are positioning themselves ahead of a planned government project to introduce electronic learning in public schools.

The decision by the government to create and deploy digital learning nationally will result in massive demand for educational content, computer hardware, software, internet bandwidth, consultancy services, and an array of communication solutions.

"There has been a lot of activity in the ICT industry, with the main examples being use of ICT in development initiatives and the uptake of internet services in the corporate world. The move to digital learning could not have come at a better time," said Joseph Waruingi, the managing director of Plato East Africa, a firm that offers interactive educational software that tutors and evaluates the progress of users in primary, secondary, and tertiary institutions.

"We have flagged our e-learning software to reflect the current curriculum developed by the Kenya Institute of Education (KIE). We are more focused on science subjects whose teaching is relatively consistent internationally," he said, adding that the current buzz surrounding e-learning will boost demand for the adoption of the concept in home learning environments.

Others like the Belgium-based Televic Education are looking at providing the requisite technical support.

"In collaboration with the ministry of education, we have started the delivery of e-learning content and solutions to two schools against a target of about 240 secondary schools and teacher training colleges," said Dirk Verbeke, the export manager at Televic.

He said the project was being funded by the Belgium government to the tune of about Sh830 million.

Digital learning will require huge spending on computer hardware for over 19,000 public primary and secondary schools.

With the recent proposal by the government to ban the importation of refurbished computers, dealers in new computers stand to gain from the government's e-learning supply contracts.

In addition, e-learning is now bringing into focus teachers' computer skills, with the tutors expected to buy personal computers to upgrade their skills.

Most of the current crop of teachers were not taught computers in their professional training, leaving most of them without the relevant skills to guide their students.

Officials of Copy Cat Ltd told Business Daily the firm has partnered with Jamii, a savings and credit society, to offer laptops on credit.

Publishers are also seeing an opportunity in the new knowledge delivery model.

Kenya Literature Bureau (KLB) and Oxford University Press have over the last few years digitised some of their titles in anticipation of learning in the digital age.

"We have now released six titles in CD (compact disk) format, four of which are story books. These can be used for learning at home or in a classroom," said David Mwaniki, a marketing manager at KLB.

He added that the publisher will soon digitize 24 more titles.

Firms that provide high level online learning resources hope to capture future clients from an early age as they expect the introduction of e-learning in primary schools will nurture a culture of web-based learning.

"We will be providing some free content for students and teachers. From there, they can upgrade to pursuing higher education qualifications using online learning materials," James Ngatia, a manager at Octopus ICT Solutions said.

Business Daily