The Ministries of ICT and Education, ICT Authority, Huawei and UNESCO have launched the DigiSchool Connectivity Project as part of a new nationwide Schoolnet project that seeks to connect all schools in Kenya to the internet.
The official launch was held in Maragima Primary School, Nyeri County, one of the 13 schools across the country where the pilot project has been implemented and is part of a commitment that Huawei made to the Global Education Coalition launched by UNESCO during COVID-19.
The initiative builds on the existing Government investments in education devices and content in Kenya, leveraging on the Government’s existing high- 9,000km high-speed National Optic Fibre Backbone Infrastructure (NOFBI) that reaches across most sub-counties and is thereby able to connect public schools to the internet to enhance learning and teaching.
The launch was officiated by Ministry of ICT’s Cabinet Secretary Joseph Mucheru, Huawei Kenya CEO Mr. Will Meng, Regional Director UNESCO Professor Hubert Gijzen, Chairman of ICT Authority Prof. Fredrick Owino, Acting CEO ICT Authority Dr. Kipronoh Ronoh, and County Commissioner Mr. Lyford Kibaara among other key guests. During the launch the guests saw first-hand how the children are using the internet in class and had an online video call with students and teachers from some of the other schools connected across the country.
Over the last decade, the government has demonstrated its commitment to improving the quality of education through the use of technology by connecting majority of schools to power whilst providing over 1.1m digital devices for teachers and learners.
Additionally, through Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), it has developed digital content on the Kenya Education Cloud for the Digital Literacy Program to guarantee that the program is in line with the new Competency Based Curriculum.
“The future of work depends largely on digital skills.’ noted Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru. “The pandemic has created a new normal in learning and this has been shaped largely by technology. I would like to thank our partners Huawei and UNESCO for the amount of effort and resource they put towards ensuring that the program not only launches but may continue and have the sustainability that is necessary” He added.
At the launch, Huawei Kenya CEO, Mr Will Meng highlighted that fiber and wireless microwave technologies can be used to provide ultra-high speed broadband to schools, even in remote areas like Mandera.
“By providing high quality wi-fi across the school, we can make a difference to education and thus to the future of the country”, he said
Mrs Sabina Aron, County Director for Education, Nyeri noted: “Through the internet, teachers and students can also access incredible resources from experts across the country and worldwide, enabling them to compete on part with their peers globally. In addition to learning, the school administration will also benefit by having access to various government portals, online government services and ultimately running school administration systems”
The head teacher at Maragima Primary School, Mrs Eunice Ng’ang’a, noted that the teachers will not only access teaching resources and guidelines but also incorporate interactive learning methods in their teaching.
Digital Literacy is one of the seven pillars in the new curriculum and therefore it is important for the government and stakeholders to accord it the much needed support to guarantee success.
UNESCO’s Regional Director for East Africa, Prof. Hubert Gijzen, congratulated the government on its initiative and partnership, explaining that of the UNESCO Global Education Coalition.
A broader partnership which today has grown out to some 200 different partners, to accelerate the deployment of remote learning solutions. The aim is to make distance learning possible for all learners at all levels.
As a key partner to the global coalition Huawei has implemented two other programs in Kenya including enhancing online learning programs for University Students through Huawei ICT Academy program and providing digital skills to youth in rural areas through the Huawei DigiTruck.