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How EdTech Can Bridge the Digital Divide in Kenyan Education

Most developing countries face the challenge of providing access to quality education to all. With limited resources, a shortage of qualified teachers, and a growing population, Kenya is struggling to provide education that meets the needs of all its citizens.

However, the rise of EdTech provides a glimmer of hope. Such services can bridge the digital divide that is dragging Kenyan education.

What is EdTech?

EdTech is a software service that uses digital platforms and tools to support teaching and learning. The service can include everything from e-learning platforms and online courses to games and education apps.

Many Kenyan students lack access to traditional classroom settings and quality education. But technology like EdTech makes this possible. For instance, during the time of Covid-19 pandemic, the Government successfully used EdTech as a distance learning solution. This was through internet-based solutions such as Kenya Education Cloud, YouTube, and distance learning solutions that include radio and television.

A notable case study on the prominent role of EdTech in bridging the digital divide in the country is Elimu . The educational technology firm develops digital content covering science, mathematics, and English. Other major EdTech players include M-ShuleAngaza ElimuBRCK Eneza Education, and UPTYKE CONSULTING LTD an EdTech start-up that solves the problem of Inclusive EdTech in Sub-Saharan Africa by supporting curriculum and e-learning developers, to make educational content accessible by translating it into formats that can be accessed for Special Needs Education (SNE) learners in primary schools. At UPTYKE CONSULTING LTD they address the SNE gap by developing e-learning materials and digital modules conceptualized within existing education ecosystems.

What is the Government Doing to Support EdTech?

In 2016, the Kenyan government, through the Ministry of Education (MoE), launched the Digital Learning Program (DLP). The initiative’s primary goal is to introduce digital technology into learning nationwide. MoE has integrated digital content into the national curriculum.

The government also partnered with Safaricom and other private-sector organizations to support the implementation of DLP. Kenya’s leading mobile network operator has developed a mobile-based platform for easier communication between teachers and their students, as well as, easier access to teaching materials.

How Edtech can Help Bridge the Digital Divide in Kenyan Education?

EdTech solutions such as e-learning, e-books, and online courses can significantly improve access to a wealth of classroom resources.

EdTech also allows for personalized learning experiences. The one-size-fits-all teaching approach used by traditional classroom settings may leave some learners struggling to keep up. Others become bored and uninterested. However, EdTech mobile learning platforms personalize learning using AI. These customized learning solutions are tailored to the needs of individual learners. Students can learn at their own pace. And when gaming, multimedia elements, and other EdTech learning modules such as digital storybooks are used, the learners can remain engaged and interested as well.

The issue of limited resources has long been a thorn in the flesh of many schools, especially in rural areas. These schools find it an uphill task to attract and retain qualified teachers. While BRCK Education has emerged to provide digital content and digital tools such as tablets and routers, online courses and instructional videos can have the most significant impact.

 Educational content created featuring highly experienced tutors can serve a larger group of students. In addition, Edtech solutions can help assess students’ progress, create lesson plans, and provide personalized feedback to learners. This improves access to quality education regardless of where the students are located.

 But what about access to electricity? How can EdTech services help?

The World Bank survey reported that 94% of urban households in Kenya have access to electricity. Rural areas only had 18% in the same year, 2020. The disparity is another leading source of the digital divide in Kenyan education. Students in urban schools have an unfair advantage over their rural counterparts in access to digital devices.

EdTech solutions can be accessed offline. Tutors can charge the devices and download educational videos, games, storybooks, and other resources which they use without an internet connection.

The use of smartphones and handheld devices is increasing around the country, and these can support EdTech services. Users only need smartphones to access quizzes, interactive content, digital storybooks, and videos used in learning.

For instance;

Eneza Education uses text messaging to provide access to educational resources.

Angaza Elimu uses its Smart Home toolkit for teaching human-centered design and IoT concepts to accelerate interest in STEM.

UPTYKE CONSULTING LTD enables the development of accessible and Inclusive English and Kiswahili decodable and leveled storybooks for home use or supporting extracurricular reading clubs in and out of the classroom.

We acknowledge the work EdTech East Africa is doing by pioneering the Larger EdTech Community in East Africa and bringing people in the EdTech ecosystem together for sharing of experiences and insights. These meetups of the EdTech Community advance conversations around the improvement of EdTech work and collaborations.

EdTech’s main concern is the realization of United Nations Sustainable Development goal no.4 which aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”

Hope this blog is insightful and useful. Keep sharing your experiences and suggestions on topics you would like for us to delve into…

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