Virtual classroom remains a dream for many learners

Tuesday, April 7th, 2020 00:00 |
Children follow programmes through the KICD channel, EDU TV. Photo/PD/BENARD ORWONGO

Bernard Gitau @benagitau

The move by the Ministry of Education to use television and radio to offer out-of-classroom lessons to learners faces huge hurdles owing to the fact that only one in three Kenyan households own a visual set.

With more than 17 million pupils and students at home to tame the spread of coronavirus, the ministry is working to bridge the gap of teachers through alternative complimentary learning modes at both primary and secondary levels.

Out of Classroom Learning Programme (OCLP) is being made possible through radio broadcast to schools, EDU TV, Kenya Education Cloud (KEC) and EDU YouTube platforms.

Access programme

“Parents and guardians are to step in the teachers’ shoes and make sure children are following the educational programmes that Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) is providing,” the institute’s acting chief executive Dr. Joel Mabonga said.

But according to the 2019 population census, the majority of learners might not access the programme because out of 12 million households, slightly below 60 per cent do not own a functional television set.

“A functional TV set was the popular household asset owned by 40.7 per cent of households,” part of census report revealed.

Those in rural areas are disadvantaged as only 26.9 per cent owned a TV set with households in urban areas accounting for a larger share at 62.5 per cent.

The census report points a grimmer picture where only 50 per cent of households are connected to electricity.

Further, only 22.6 per cent of individuals aged three years and above used the Internet while 10.4 per cent used a computer.

Speaking to People Daily, Kenya National Parents Association chairman Nicholas Maiyo expressed concern that only a minority would benefit from KICD’s efforts because of lack of TVs, radios and in addition to inadequate sensitisation.

“Parents are worried about Covid-19 and food security in case of a lockdown. Education will only get streamlined if Covid-19 ends, but for now it is not a priority,” he said.

Complete syllabus

Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (Kessha) chairman Kahi Indimuli says KICD programme is aimed at helping students interact with educational content but not completing the syllabus.

The Communication Authority of Kenya recently directed all TV signal distributors to have EDU TV channel alongside KBC radio and TV stations as a must-carry free to air signals on their platforms by April 1, 2020.  This move is to increase accessibility and availability of the OCLP.

“The institute is working round the clock to make sure that learners at home get quality and timely lessons through the KICD platforms as directed by the Cabinet Secretary of Education, Prof George Magoha,” said Mabonga.

 Stakeholders have said on the way forward, if cases will continue to escalate to June and July, there will be need for the education fraternity to sit down and make a hard decision because if candidates do not transit to the next level, there will be a halt in all movement hence they will have to repeat classes.

The census report showed a total of 17.8 million individuals reported that they were at school or a learning institution.

It showed that 10.0 million people were attending primary school; 3.4 million were attending secondary school while 3.3 million were attending pre-primary school.

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