Connecting the marginalized
to digital education in Kenya
In Kenya, children and young people make up two-thirds of the population. Almost 12 million are students in more than 38 000 schools across the country. Only 39 per cent of 7 to13-year-old students from the ASAL counties can solve basic numeracy or literacy tasks in English and Kiswahili. For girls, the situation is even worse, with national enrolment 10% lower than that of boys and the learning achievement five % lower than that of boys. Gender disparities are further highlighted in certain locations.
Children with disabilities face major difficulties as around 90% are estimated to be out of school because of stigmatization, curricula issues, inadequately equipped schools, and lack of teachers with special needs training, despite the Kenyan government’s acknowledgement of the right to education for all children. Happily, the government’s increased desire to address the barriers that prevent all children from accessing quality education is a positive sign.
To support improvements in education for all and drive a shared value approach, Nokia teamed up with UNICEF and the Government of Kenya in a multi-partner collaboration to bring internet connectivity and digital learning to disadvantaged Kenyan schools. This shared value partnership aims to showcase possible connectivity solutions and the benefits for children and teachers to be able to access quality digital content. The program is scalable due to the Government’s commitment on the Digital Literacy Project which already distributed more than 1 million computer tablets in schools and the Government’s objective to connect all 40 000 schools of Kenya.
The initial phases of the project concentrated on digital literacy.
UNICEF were able to start working on the development and testing of an accessible digital textbook in Kenya. Existing investment by the Government of Kenya in procuring digital devices and a request for support for the development of accessible digital content as well as a supportive policy environment in form of the new Ministry of Education "Sector Policy for Learners and Trainees with Disabilities" helped move the project forward. Additional resources and support received through the shared-value partnership with Nokia, allowed testing of the textbook in a wider range of schools, aimed at all children, including the most marginalized.
By 2020, the project aims to achieve for example the following results: at least 300 pupils with disabilities in 10 pilot schools will have received digital lessons while around 4,000 children across 100 target schools will have gained access to digital learning tools.
In addition, 400 teachers’ pedagogical skills will have been boosted with relevant, technology-savvy training to best support pupils’ learning with these new digital tools.
Derrick and Collins from Aga Khan Primary School signing along with the help of the interpreter in the digital accessible textbook.
The collaboration will continue into Phase 2 which will leverage prior investments, technical expertise and Nokia connectivity solutions to support the Government of Kenya in reaching key goals. This shared value collaboration aims to showcase possible connectivity solutions and the benefits for children and teachers to be able to access quality digital content.
The continuation aims to reach around 15,000 beneficiaries, specifically children in disadvantaged areas of Kenya with a focus on girls as well as children with disabilities. The geographical reach of the project shall be expanded beyond the current project implementation in the urban informal settlements of Nairobi and the remote areas of Garissa and Turkana County to reach urban informal settlements in Kisumu and potentially surrounding areas. Creating shared value collaboration between private and public sector allows innovation to thrive and will help Kenya improve education to all including the marginalized.
Education is a right for all children.
Madam Beth guiding Wesley through his class work.
Teacher Jane Njoroge looks on as Frank from Mugumoini Primary School in Thika Town uses his digital tablet. / ©UNICEFKenya/2019/Ndinda
Collins Mwendwa showing off the pictures in his digital textbook. / ©UNICEFKenya/2019/Ndinda
6-year-old Wesley Muturi in his class at Kilimani Primary School in Nairobi, using an abacus to count. / UNICEFKenya/2019/Ngochi