If you grew up in a more developed area in the age of technology, you may remember how basic technology added to the ease of learning. Whether it was being able to Google facts for a research paper, simply spell checking an essay, using an interactive language learning program or creating a grand multimedia presentation, technology took your school work to the next level. However, technology isn’t as accessible in all parts of the world. But educational technology in Kenya is finally making learning easier in Africa.
No Tech, Huge Problem
While visiting Africa for your safari, the first thing you may notice is that things look more rugged. The Guardian reported in 2016 that in rural areas educational basics like textbooks and teachers aren’t necessarily guaranteed, much less technology. The Guardian stated that in Africa, 30 million children miss out on primary education. Yet there is 73 percent mobile phone penetration. So if educational technology in Kenya can become more predominant, children are not as limited by their physical locations. And they would easily access to resources like textbooks. A world of information can come into the home and knock down barriers like never before. And that’s what a whole host of technology initiatives in Kenya are working towards.
Mobile and Tablet Educational Technology in Kenya
Providing technology to less-developed areas has proven to be a struggle. Just because an organization wails technology into rural areas doesn’t mean that it will necessarily increase reading or math scores, as was the case with One Laptop per Child in Peru initially. So Kenya is taking a different approach.One such example is BRCK, which provides tablets to schoolchildren. The tablets have Kenyan curriculum and international content on them, but no internet access. That means children are more likely to stay engaged with course content than spending the day surfing the internet. But when connected to the network, the tablets can be loaded with new material.
Other organizations, like Worldreader, have been providing Kindles to African schools for years. eLimu also provides interactive tablets in classroom settings. Cloud-based learning like eLimu helps students learn in a way that relates to them, following a localized curriculum geared for Kenyan youth. The eLimu came from iHub, a space that people in Kenya can use to start technology ventures. The Global Partnership for Education reported that mobile technology teaching methods in 2015 were beginning to raise historically low reading and comprehension rates.
A huge push for educational technology in Kenya is increasing access to ICT (information and communication technology) systems. The Government of Kenya has been acknowledging the need for these systems for years, though integration has been slower than expected, according to the Center for Education Innovations in 2013. Some challenges have been part of the problem for many years. Such as limited infrastructure, high costs, lack of skills, shortages in financing and security issues.
However, Kenyan news outlet The Standard reported an 8.4 percent improvement in the ICT sector between 2013 and 2014. And the ICT sector in Kenya was worth Sh138 billion in 2014. In education, that allows students to more affordably access educational content.