Despite efforts by the government to upscale virtual learning in Kenya, unreliable internet connectivity and expensive data is putting a damper on this efforts.
Research by the NGO Usawa Agenda, shows only 25 learners out of a 100 have un-interrupted access to virtual learning with majority of them in Nairobi.
The government is now being urged to expedite rolling out loon services in underserved rural areas which are worst affected.
Kenya’s poor internet connectivity has been exposed in the last four months after the government closed schools to contain the spread of COVID-19.
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Efforts by schools to migrate learners to online platform has been frustrated by various factors such as poor internet connectivity and expensive bundles.
Despite Kenya’s high mobile phone penetration that stands at more than 110 percent, internet connectivity on the other hand lags at only with only 1 in five people have access to internet. The situation is worse in far-flung areas where only 3.7 percent of the population can connect to the virtual space.
The research by Usawa Agenda shows that only 10 out of 100 learners accessed digital KICD material, 42 out of 100 digital learners accessed TV lessons, and 27 out of 100 are following up on the materials sent via WhatsApp by their respective schools.
Last week, the Ministry of ICT launched the loon project which seeks to bring internet access to rural communities.
A new project by Prudential Life Assurance Kenya and the Kenya Education Fund (KEF) seeks to ameliorate this challenge by providing 15000 schools in the country with computers, internet infrastructure and learning kits to disadvantaged schools in the country.
According to Prudential Life Assurance Kenya CEO Raxit Soni, the project targets learners from financially disadvantaged families that are unable to benefit from virtual learning delivered through radio, television and internet.
“This project aims to bridge this learning divide by enabling learners from vulnerable communities to continue learning even as schools remain closed due to Covid-19.,” said Mr. Soni.
He further disclosed that Prudential has set aside Ksh 9.3 million for the project which will also provide 4,000 female students with sanitary pads.
KEF Country Director Dominic Muasya said the project will make a significant difference in the lives of thousands of high school students lacking access to virtual learning opportunities.
“The beneficiaries of this project hail from some of the most vulnerable communities grappling with the harsh impact of the coronavirus pandemic on social life. Improving learning outcomes is crucial in ensuring that students in such places are not left behind,” stated Muasya.
The project beneficiaries will receive printed learning materials distributed through their schools. 11,250 students in Form 1, 2 and 3 will receive reading and learning materials. These are purely revision kits based on the secondary school curriculum.
The project is supported by Prudence Foundation which is Prudential Plc’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) arm.
“Education is an important investment by any community in its people hence our involvement in improving learning outcomes in vulnerable groups. We appreciate the hardships that learners in such settings have to endure daily, which compromises their ability to keep up with their education especially during this time of Covid-19,” said Mr. Soni.