Welcome remarks, prof. kobia (e learning conference)

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2014 e learning innovations conference

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Welcome remarks, prof. kobia (e learning conference)

  1. 1. Page 1 of 6 PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION WELCOME REMARKS BY PROF. MARGARET KOBIA, PhD, CBS, CHAIRPERSON, PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION, DURING THE OPENING OF THE 2014 e-LEARNING CONFERENCE ON TRANSFORMING EDUCATION, EMPLOYMENT AND ECONOMIES HELD ON TUESDAY, 29TH JULY 2014, AT SAFARI PARK HOTEL, NAIROBI. Dr. Fred Matiang’i, CS, Information, Communications and Technology, The Conference Chair Dr. Penina Lam, The Conference Co-Chair Dr. Lydia Kaume, Members of the Organizing Committee, Distinguished Guests, Conference Presenters, Ladies and Gentlemen, This year’s Conference on e-learning towards transforming education systems, the employment market and economies comes at a most opportune moment in the developmental history of this country. First, it fits within the greater development philosophy of the Jubilee Government on “Digital Governance”. Indeed, ours is the only Digital Government on the African
  2. 2. Page 2 of 6 Continent. Second, e-learning systems and investments on the enabling infrastructure feed into Kenya’s Vision 2030 agenda on leveraging Science, Technology and Innovations (STI) in fostering economic growth and social development to middle income status by the year 2030. Ladies and Gentlemen, A stock take on Kenya’s education and training sector shows that, for the most part, teaching, learning and training processes remain largely driven by traditional approaches. Even where innovative approaches such as continuing education, distance education and open learning exist, institutions are yet to fully integrate e- learning to maximise its cost and efficiency benefits. Despite these uptake constraints, considerable efforts by both private and public sector players have gone into content and infrastructure development for e-learning platforms. Ladies and Gentlemen, In the just ended 11th forum of the Commonwealth African Heads of Public Service, which I had the privilege of attending, Heads of Public Service made the strongest case for e-Government for inclusive and sustainable development. Indeed, the nexus between e-learning and e-government spaces is both mutually reinforcing and complementary. In my view, it is the convergence between these two spaces where Kenya’s planned investments in the use of laptops and digital content in primary schools comes in handy. The project promises to mobilize an e-ready pool of
  3. 3. Page 3 of 6 primary school leavers thus, effectively strengthening the demand side for both e-learning and e-government. In addition, increased investments in the use of technology in education, research and innovations similar to those found in the business innovation and incubation centres at Kenyatta and Strathmore Universities, and the new digital school at Kenyatta University are small but significant steps that will be instrumental in elevating Kenya’s economy to the knowledge-driven pedestal. On the economic side, there is compelling evidence that strong supply and demand sides that support both e-learning and e- readiness have major economic growth and social development benefits. By placing new information, knowledge, skills and competencies within the reach of our youthful population, e- learning seeks to equip this segment of the employment market with the missing half that our education system has struggled to impart on graduates. Specifically, such new skills and competencies will easily lighten the unemployment burden by helping fresh graduates identify new start-up business opportunities. In addition, targeted e-learning platforms will help eliminate marginalization among the hard to reach segments. Content targeting such groups can help improve overall economic productivity through focus on agriculture, health and entrepreneurship. It transforming education, e-learning promises to revolutionize the way learning content for new knowledge and skills is delivered.
  4. 4. Page 4 of 6 Overall, e-learning promises an education and training system with content delivery and learning efficiencies of unprecedented proportions. In such systems, institutions are able to cost-effectively deliver content while learners are able to undertake training at own convenience with least disturbances to their daily economic and work place routines. As Government and public sector, we remain most committed to investments on all forms of innovations, improvements and reforms whose combined contribution will be efficiency improvements in Kenya’s public service. By cost-effectively imparting new skills and competencies to public officers, while keeping disruptive staff movements at their lowest levels, e-learning becomes the silver bullet of our generation towards public sector efficiency goals. In terms of human capital development, a high penetration rate of e-learning in employing organisations will, among other things; provide consistent, world-class training; reduce delivery cycle time; increase learner conveniences; reduce learner information overload (learners can work at their own pace); improve tracking (e-learning tools can automatically keep records of who has undergone training, what test scores were obtained, among others). For the Public Service to meet the needs of a dynamic citizenry and remain an employer of choice, given the speed of current change, we need to respond to these trends now so as to stay ahead of the wave of change and new trends.
  5. 5. Page 5 of 6 Ladies and Gentlemen, As I conclude, and having clearly identified the transformational and the legacy economic benefits of present e-learning investments, in my view, it would be equally helpful to establish the challenges we face in this area. This, I believe, will be a critical approach to establishing where we are and what needs to be done to improve both publicly and privately supplied e-learning systems in away that optimizes both the e-learning market and its anticipated social and economic benefits. On the supply side, both public and private sector efforts to provide content and systems for e-learning remain parallel and uncoordinated, with mixed results. On the demand side, e-learning still faces “last mile” constraints where the potential learners lack either basic end-user infrastructure or the functional literacy to access and use content. Owing to such challenges, it is not uncommon to see very great e-learning platform concepts become unsuccessful. Finally, Ladies and Gentlemen, efforts to optimise the economic benefits of e-learning will have to concentrate on providing solutions for content, infrastructure and the “last mile” constraints that separate the supply side from the demand side. Ladies and Gentlemen; with those remarks, I wish to welcome you all to Nairobi and trust that this conference affords all participants an opportunity to chart a new course for leveraging e-learning in transforming education, employment markets and our economies.
  6. 6. Page 6 of 6 Ladies and Gentlemen, may I now introduce to you our Chief Guest: CITATION Dr. Fred Matiang’i is the Republic of Kenya’s ICT Cabinet Secretary. Prior to his appointment as Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Matiang’i was a Senior Programme Advisor, contracted by the World Bank, to support the Kenya School of Government’s programme development and inter-agency liaison on capacity building for devolved Structures. He was the Chief of Party and Country Director of the USAID and DFID-funded Kenya Parliamentary Strengthening Project, implemented by the Center for International Development, State University of New York (SUNY/CID), Albany, New York. Dr Matiang’i has also served as the Chairperson of the Governing Council of the KCA University. For about fifteen years now, Dr Matiang’i has served in senior research and programme implementation positions in various civil society organisations in Kenya, and conducted research and training for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank Institute, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), the East African Legislative Assembly and a number of parliaments in Africa. As an academic, Dr. Matiang’i holds a Master of Arts Degree in English and a PhD in Communication and Comparative Literature from the University of Nairobi. Welcome CS.

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