In an effort to assess the success of its program and build strong relationships with the children, their families, teachers and local authorities, a Dubai Cares delegation, led by Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer at Dubai Cares, part of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, visited Kenya to monitor and evaluate the implementation of its “Transforming Students Learning and Teacher Professional Development through ICT” program, launched in 2014. The program, which is being implemented in Kenya and Uganda in partnership with Aga Khan Foundation (AKF), focuses on the use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) in education to transform the learning experience in classrooms. The AED 6,585,476 (USD 1,792,698) is set to impact 106,482 students, 1,317 teachers across 100 schools in Kenya.
Dubai Cares’ program focuses on validating and delivering effective scalable models to mainstream the use of ICT in teacher development, including their ability to use ICT in the classrooms. The program also improves access to ICT hardware and software and provides effective monitoring and support training to teachers through the use of ICT, as well as monitoring school performance and progress. The program is in-line with the Government of Kenya’s efforts to embrace ICT as a means to strengthen teaching and learning outcomes.
Commenting on the impact of the program, Tariq Al Gurg said: “The education system in Kenya has expanded rapidly since independence, but the sector has many notable challenges, namely the gaps in professional teacher development, which are impacting the student learning outcomes. We are pleased to witness how our program is helping to change the students’ learning process and improving the professional development of teachers. The program is also testing and validating models and methods that are relevant and important to help the Kenyan Government in fulfilling its own ambitions and plans for ICT integration and use in the schools at a national level.”
At the time of the project’s launch, it was observed that teachers in Kenya were straggling in their preparation to meet the educational demands of the 21st century and achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as a World Bank study found that only 35% of teachers in Kenya demonstrated basic knowledge of the curriculum they teach. The teachers also lacked opportunities for professional development and did not receive adequate support from their administrators. As a result of resourcing constraints within district education and the distances between schools, the opportunities to expand ongoing professional development for teachers face limitations. This has had a direct impact on students’ learning, for example, more than two-thirds of the students enrolled in Grade 3 failed to pass their basic exams in English, Kiswahili or math at Grade 2 level.
Rupert Corbishley, Regional Education Advisor for Aga Khan Foundation East Africa said: “Dubai Cares-AKF partnership has not only had real and meaningful impact on children’s learning, but has also been a critical component of the broader ICT in the education ecosystem. The project informed the UNICEF report into the opportunities and risks of ICT in education, developed an interactive digital platform with curriculum aligned story books that now reaches children beyond the target schools, and been part of the development of a new digital education information management app that will be central to a ten-year global longitudinal research study called Schools2030. AKF is so grateful for the contribution Dubai Cares has made to education in Kenya and Uganda, as well as the impact the project will have locally and globally long into the future.”
Abdulrahman Bader Alzuebi, Programs Officer at Dubai Cares said: “The importance of the program stems from the increasing interest in including technology as part of the teaching and learning methods, and the ability to test this model in Kenya and Uganda helps us to understand the specificities of implementation in different contexts. This also shows the opportunities that technology can provide in improving the teaching and learning experience at the school level. We are very proud to support Aga Khan Foundation in implementing such an insightful program that helps in shaping the learning sphere in Kenya and Uganda.”
Kenya places a large premium on education and has sustained public spending within the sector at 6% of the GDP or a quarter of its total national budget over the past five years; however, access and quality remain key overarching issues for the education system. The country has a large and complex education system with an estimated 12 million children in about 120,000 institutions, including pre-primary schools.