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2014 e learning innovations conference keynote address cs, prof. jacob kaimenyi 30 july 2014


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2014 e learning innovations conference

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2014 e learning innovations conference keynote address cs, prof. jacob kaimenyi 30 july 2014

  1. 1. Page | 1 “MINISTRY OF EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY - LEADERSHIP AND VISION FOR 21ST CENTURY E-LEARNING” KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY THE CABINET SECRETARY, PROF. JACOB KAIMENYI, PhD, FICD, EBS, MINISTRY OF EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DURING THE 2014 INTERNATIONAL E-LEARNING INNOVATIONS CONFERENCE AND EXPO HELD AT SAFARI PARK HOTEL-NAIROBI FROM 29TH-31ST JULY 2014. The panel Chair, Discussants, Policy Makers, Leaders in industry, Distinguished invited guests, Conference organizers Ladies and Gentlemen, It is such a special privilege and honour to be invited here for the 2014 International E-learning Innovations Conference and Expo here at Safari Park Hotel to share our experiences and knowledge in the development and utilization of cutting edge technology and how this technology can bring about desired educational transformation.
  2. 2. Page | 2 “Education is the only business still debating the usefulness of technology.” - Rod Paige, former U.S. Secretary of Education (2002). This quote aptly provides a preamble to the current debate on technology and encapsulates the reasons why we are gathered here today. I strongly believe that this forum is precisely convened to discuss on how modern technology and e-learning can be used to leverage provision of quality education. Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to pose some questions to enable us put issues of e-learning in its proper perspective.  Why is it taking us longer here in Africa (or Kenya) to embrace technology in education?  Why is it that we have wholeheartedly embraced technology in business, health, communication among other sectors yet we become jittery when technology is applied in education?  Is it that we have misconceptions about impact of technology on education?
  3. 3. Page | 3  Why do we have less success stories from Africa, while in comparison the Eastern Tigers are scoring highly in this sector? This is therefore the very reason why such forum gathers a group of like- minded policy makers, drivers of industry, academicians as well as practitioners to deliberate on fundamental issues of access, relevance and quality of education. The gist of the matter is how to leverage on technology to achieve desired educational outcomes. I am aware, that discussion on e-learning elicits a lot of debate among scholars and policy makers as to whether it comprises on the quality of education offered. It is a fact that e-learning not only changes the way curriculum is designed and delivered but more fundamentally, it is a complete paradigm shift from our traditional understanding of education in a profound way. The yearning for educational reforms has always dominated academic discourse as exemplified by the late university Don and philosopher Prof. John Dewey, a proponent of educational reform
  4. 4. Page | 4 whose futuristic statement has stood the test of time; “If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.” In such a forum, we should not fear to wade into this debate of technology and e-learning in education as it helps us to demystify myths and falsehoods that our children or schools are not ready for technology. We should focus our efforts tapping into the immense potential inherent in each of our children to be great innovators and creators of knowledge given equal opportunities provided by technology. The benefits of education cannot be overemphasized! The African Union in its strategic plan for 2006-2015 acknowledged that: “Education forms the basis for developing innovation, science and technology in order to harness our resources, industrialize and participate in the global knowledge economy and for Africa to take its rightful place in the global community.”
  5. 5. Page | 5 I can’t agree more with this bold pronouncement by the Africa Union but what should be noted as the game changer is the use of technology as the basis for global competitiveness. Ladies and Gentlemen, the current Government of which I serve recognizes the importance of Information Communication Technology to the national development. In this regard, the Government has taken deliberate steps to invest in integration of ICT in curriculum at all levels of education beginning from early childhood to higher levels of learning. This is quite in tandem with the Kenya vision 2030 which recognizes that an ICT literate workforce is the foundation on which the nation will become a knowledge-based economy. Consequently, my Ministry has been mandated with the implementation of one of the key Jubilee flagship project of integrating ICT in primary education, popularly called the “laptop project.” This is in recognition of the fact that education has the potential to equalize and provide a child from disadvantaged background to compete on an equal footing with those who
  6. 6. Page | 6 are privileged. Indeed, most successful people confirm the fact that education transforms lives and this is illustrated by the statement CEO of one of the leading IT firms, thus: “There are two fundamental equalizers in life - the internet and education.” - John Chambers, CEO of Cisco System (1999). In the sessional paper, Number 14 of 2012, on Reforming Education and Training Sectors in Kenya, my ministry has made a firm commitment to a competency based teaching and learning that promotes acquisition of 21st Century skills and attitudes such as: critical thinking, creativity, communication, collaboration and innovation. Against this background, the government will make education a platform of equipping the nation with ICT skills in order to create a dynamic and progressive society. The subject of e-learning is close to my heart. E-learning is breaking the boundaries of learning as it was traditionally understood. Indeed ICT is providing us with tools that were unimaginable just a few years ago. For instance;
  7. 7. Page | 7  Anywhere, anytime learning; the virtual class where a teacher from any part of the world can teach students in the most far-flung parts of the globe is now a reality. Learners can pursue their studies at their convenience and are not limited by geography or time constraints.  The emergence of the internet and low cost of connectivity has led to easier sharing of information.  Search engines such as Google, Bing, yahoo among others are enabling students to undertake research and find answers to their questions. Therefore the challenge ahead of us as policy makers and educators is how to harness and use these tools constructively and effectively to empower both the educator and the learner.
  8. 8. Page | 8 Ladies and Gentlemen, my ministry has identified the following strategic pillars for successful ICT investment in education:  Existence of a policy framework that supports ICT  Development of digital content  ICT infrastructure and connectivity  Building capacity of the human resource The above 4 pillars are currently guiding the implementation of the laptop programme in Kenya. The government prioritized the integration of ICT in primary education as a curriculum reform agenda to address access, equity and quality of education delivery. Towards this end, the government has set aside and ‘ring fenced’ funds to be used for the acquisition of computing devices for learners, training of teachers, digital content development as well as infrastructure refurbishment of schools. Ladies and Gentlemen, at this juncture may I bring you to speed on the status of the implementation of ICT integration in primary schools. Besides
  9. 9. Page | 9 provision of computing devices which has been temporarily stopped to await the ruling of the court, good progress has been achieved in other areas:  Over 3,000 teachers are already trained as trainer of trainers from all over the republic to undertake cascade training of teachers at the school level. Over 61,000 teachers are targeted in this financial year.  With the partnership of the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, through Rural Electrification Authority, over 10,157 primary schools have been connected to the national grid with another 600 earmarked for connection to solar power. The government has committed to ensure all schools are connected to power by the end of this financial year.  Digital content for standard one has been finalized by Kenya Institute of curriculum Development (KICD) and ready for preloading to the laptops once procurement process is concluded successfully.  Automation of the data management to help the national office to keep track on use and utilization of ICT tools in schools is currently on going.
  10. 10. Page | 10  The cabinet has established an institutional framework to coordinate the inter-ministerial meetings for successful implementation of this programme.  The ministry is currently facilitating the various stakeholders to establish local assembly of computing devices leading to eventual full scale manufacturing in line with the Kenya Vision 2030. Ladies and Gentlemen, in addition to the above information, may I also inform you that the vision for the Ministry in ICT is also targeting other levels. These initiatives include: I. Economic Stimulus Programme The programme targets about 200 secondary schools annually. Since the programme started 3 years ago, over 2,000 secondary schools have been equipped with uniform ICT package that includes; 11 computers, a laptop, printer and internet connectivity for one year. It is also noted that schools at this level may offer computer studies as a specialist subject which provides students to pursue a career in IT at higher levels.
  11. 11. Page | 11 II. Science, Technology and Innovation Act, 2013. The Act established the National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI) as successor of the National Council for Science and Technology (NCST). NACOSTI therefore will facilitate the promotion, coordination and regulation of the progress of Science, Technology and Innovation (ST&I) in the country. III. Partnerships between MOEST and development partners. Currently, the Ministry is engaging with partners like Samsung, Microsoft, Intel, USAID, DFID, AFDB among others in promoting e- learning. For example in April this year, Samsung Electronics ltd together with the Korean Government donated a Solar Powered Internet School, a 40ft container with 25 laptops, solar panels an power storage batteries for use in Asal regions which do not have access to the national grid. I wish to briefly highlight some of the challenges face by the Ministry in integration of ICT in education at all levels of learning:
  12. 12. Page | 12 1. Connectivity Apart from the major towns in counties, the last mile connectivity is a challenge, thus impeding on envisaged access to online learning. We are calling upon partners in this particular sector to come forward with their proposals in order to address the opportunity. 2. Cost of Devices For e-Learning to take off successfully, it obviously requires low cost and accessible computing devices. It is therefore our hope that the manufacturers will seize the opportunity provided by the Jubilee Government to establish a local assembly so as to manufacture low cost computing devices. This will auger well for the economy and build capacity of the locals in term of skills transfer. 3. Software
  13. 13. Page | 13 Proprietary software and content is expensive and not sustainable in the long run. The Ministry is considering several options and is currently encouraging use of the Open Educational Resources (OERs) which offer greater openness. In this regard, through the partnership with UNESCO, the Ministry is currently implementing a pilot OER project to build capacity of our teachers to design and develop content which is relevant and low cost thus reduce over reliance on the more expensive proprietary content. 4. Training As noted earlier, training is one of our key priorities for both the management and teachers to use ICT management and teaching and learning. The Ministry is encouraging the local training institutions such as universities, Teacher colleges and Tertiary institutions to make basic ICT skills as one of the compulsory modules to enable the pre-service teachers to graduate fully ICT compliant.
  14. 14. Page | 14 Further, our universities need to embrace e-learning to be able to compete favorably with institutions of higher learning from other countries which currently offer more online courses. In conclusion, this conference is therefore important in giving the stakeholders a common understanding of the opportunities offered by ICT, the policies and strategies needed for the efficient use of ICT by education and training systems and the paradigm shift required for successful integration of ICT. Ladies and Gentlemen, the ‘journey’ towards embracing e-learning in our context began a few years ago but it has been slow. We call upon our stakeholders and partners to walk with us in this journey and helps to leap frog in order to be in tandem with those countries who have already advanced in ICT uptake in all their sectors. Thank you for listening to me and God bless you all!