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Survey: Majority children out of digital learning

By Irene Githinji
Monday, May 18th, 2020
Favored Kibunja, a Grade Four pupil at Eagle Apex Hill School in Subukia studies digitally. Photo/PD/FILE
In summary

Irene Githinji @gitshee

Majority of Kenyan children have no access to digital learning, showing glaring disparities in home learning forced by the coronavirus pandemic, a new report says.

The report by Usawa, a non-governmental organisation, shows that only 22 per cent of children have access to learning through the Internet.

The survey titled “Are our children learning”,  on the status of remote learning among school-going children, shows that 22 out of 100 children are accessing online learning while a child in a private school is twice as likely to access digital lessons compared with counterparts in public schools.

The study has also shown that less than 10 per cent of learners in public schools have access to digital learning materials.

Key questions

Usawa Agenda executive director Emmanuel Manyasa said the survey raises key questions on whether integration of ICT tools is promoting learning or if they are widening inequalities in access to quality education in the current circumstances where all schools are shut and movement restricted in some parts of the country.

“The learning crisis occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic has brought to the fore wide gaps between our national aspirations and obtaining reality with regards to digital learning.

It has highlighted the potential of existing digital divide to deepen inequalities in learning outcomes and put children on divergent socio-economic trajectories early on in life,” said Manyasa.

The survey revealed that public schools are least prepared to support digital learning, with nine out of 10 school heads interviewed estimating that less than 30 per cent of their schools have any measures in place to reach children with the required learning materials.

The official said the government should acknowledge the fact that there is no systematic remote learning going on across the country and communicate that publicly.

The survey was conducted in 85 out of 335 sub-counties across 42 of the 47 counties in the country.

More than 3,700 household heads in 255 villages and 273 county and sub-county officials, and school heads associations—Kenya Primary Schools Heads Association (KEPSHA) and the Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association (KESSHA) in 211 sub-counties, were interviewed.

The survey further showed that two out of 10 parents were not aware that their children should be learning remotely from home.

Similarly, parental awareness of digital home learning varied from county to county, with Mandera recording the lowest figure of 18 per cent while Mombasa was the highest at 97 per cent.

It was also established that 42 out of 100 digital learners accessed TV lessons while 27 out of 100 students accessed materials sent by schools through WhatsApp.

Ten out of 100 digital learners said they access the digital Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) material while 37 out of 100 students said they accessed material provided by parents while 19 of 100 said they depended on radio lessons.

The report has since recommended that the Ministry of Education review its strategy on the integration of ICT in education.

On the other hand, it called for collaboration between the Teachers Service Commission (TSC), the ministry and other stakeholders in the education sector to re-evaluate and re-position the teacher in delivering digital learning.

The government has also been urged to constitute a multi-sectoral committee and embark on a long-term plan to systematically bridge the digital divide that is both geographic and socio-economic, as part of the broader strategy to ensure equitable access to quality education and life-long learning opportunities.

“The committee, recently set up by the ministry, should urgently draw up several scenarios of school opening, provide equitable mechanisms to redeem lost time in each scenario and communicate the same publicly,” said Manyasa.

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