E-learning plan locks out underprivileged
Efforts by the Education ministry to keep learners busy after the closure of schools following the coronavirus outbreak are commendable.
The government has established online platforms, radio and TV broadcasts for learners and tutors of different classes based on the curriculum.
The lessons are freely available on Kenya Broadcasting Corporation channels.
Edu Channel TV and EduTv Youtube are some of the channels where lessons are transmitted on the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) –owned channel, which is available on the Signet free-to-air channel.
The Edu Channel broadcast programme line-up is also available in the KICD website and on youtube @edutvKenya (live streamed or recorded).
Unfortunately, the plan locks out a majority of poor Kenyans, particularly the majority who live in rural areas and urban slums, who may not have access to radio and TV or the internet.
The atmosphere in many homes is also not conducive for learning. Many learners in rural areas are expected to participate in various activities, including herding livestock, farm work and household chores.
Even for those who have the equipment, electricity bills and pay-TV channels are a luxury.
Online programmes require access to the Internet, which many rural families cannot.
Already, teachers in many rural parts of the country are projecting poor performance in national examinations in public institutions in remote areas.
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha has said the government is monitoring the issue keenly, with the promise to postpone the exams if need be.
However, learning is going on for learners in international schools and elite academies where families and tutors easily access online facilities, computers, radios and TV multi-cannel, pay sets.
Magoha has defended the decision by private schools to ask for the extra fees.
He said if these institutions are offering more content than the one government is offering, they have the right to charge more so as to pay the content creators.
The government should ensure the coronavirus pandemic does not widen the academic divide between the rich and poor.
The ministry and stakeholders need to re-strategise on the e-learning, radio and TV broadcasts. What is available is only benefitting the ‘haves’ while the ‘have nots’ are greatly disadvantaged.