Summit to explore ways to improve digital learning in Kenya begins
The Kenya EdTech Summit 2022 kicked off in Nairobi Wednesday with the government reiterating its commitment to work with all stakeholders in furtherance of education and technology to achieve sustainable learning in Kenya. Representing the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Mr Francis Karanja, the Head of National ICT Innovation and Integration Centre within the ministry, said adoption of partnership strategies were key in advancing this agenda. “We cannot achieve this alone. We need collaboration with other partners to ensure improvement of the education technology infrastructure,” he said. Karanja reiterated the importance of education technology in steering development in line with the government’s agenda. Similarly, EdTech East Africa CEO and Co-founder, Jennifer Cotter-Otieno, cited the transformative power of technology in improving learning outcomes. To her, the focus should be on ensuring inclusivity. “How can we design inclusive tools to ensure all learners are benefitting equitably?” she posed. “These are some of the things the summit is discussing, as well as sharing learnings of what is working.” [caption id="attachment_276612" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Jennifer Cotter-Otieno, EdTech CEO and Co-Founder addressing the summit.[/caption] The summit saw creators of mobile education apps share their innovations and impact in enhancing digital learning experiences in Kenya. Such include M-shule, an SMS knowledge-building platform that is helping organisations to deliver Learning, Evaluation, Activation, and Data tools across East Africa; and M-Lugha, an offline mother tongue-based learning mobile application, which has 20 indigenous languages, 3 of which have been approved by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development. Education technology is an increasingly common discourse worldwide, with conversations focusing on how technology and data can be better leveraged to improve teaching and learning. The growing intensity of these conversations particularly follows the massive disruptions to physical learning worldwide at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020; an experience that brought into sharper focus the need to expand digitally-enabled teaching and learning. The Kenya EdTech Summit 2022 is an addition to such conversations. The Summit is a convening of powerful public and private sector influencers to discuss how to move Kenya’s education technology (EdTech) ecosystem forward towards greater digitally-enabled teaching and learning. It marks the beginning of a journey towards remedying the challenges that have been found to stifle assertive application of education technologies in the country. Surveys by different stakeholders in 2020, among them the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development, Uwezo Citizen-Led Assessment, and Policy and Strategy Unit in the Office of the President, established a set of common challenges limiting application of EdTechs in Kenya. They include lack of digital infrastructure and connectivity; lack of confidence by teachers and pedagogical leaders to support mainstream and special-needs learners with technology; lack of data to inform instruction and decision making; lack of access to or knowledge of safe, relevant digital content; and gaps in inclusion and equity in education for learners across Kenya. Similar challenges were noted in 2021 during the development of the new Kenyan Policy for ICT in Education and Training. The EdTech Summit is organised by EdTech East Africa in partnership with Mastercard Foundation, Acumen East Africa, Imaginable Futures and EdTech Hub. It is being hosted at the Centre for Mathematics, Science and Technology Education in Africa (CEMESTEA), in Nairobi. It brings together industry experts to figure out how best to collaboratively design sustainable, more accessible and impactful digital teaching and learning interventions in the country. The participants represent the diverse stakeholders needed to realise the potential of digital teaching and learning in Kenya and co-design a collective way forward for the country. They include policy makers, entrepreneurs, innovative implementers of EdTech solutions, researchers, private sector donors and investors, development partners, digital infrastructure providers, media, academia, community leaders, and education and EdTech ecosystem builders. A highlight of the two-day event is the official launch of a common agenda – the EdTech Collective Action Framework – on November 24.