The digital era has now been termed as the new normal especially for the academic sector that is currently depending on online learning for the accomplishment of the learning process. Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the educational sector has been struck by unimaginable blows.
This pandemic has led to the shutting down of learning institutions globally in more than 160 countries leading to more than 60% of the world student population being out of school according to UNESCO.
The main purpose of education is to educate individuals within society, to prepare and qualify them for work in the economy as well as to integrate people into society and teach them the values and morals of society.
Read more about The 5 Roles of Education as it creates a means of socializing individuals and to keep society smoothing and remain stable.Online Learning After Covid-19: Could this be the New Normal? Click To Tweet
COVID-19: Education goes Online:The digital era has now been termed as the new normal especially for the academic sector that is currently depending on online learning for the accomplishment of the learning process. Click To Tweet
Coronavirus Mainstreams Online Learning in Kenya
Upon the discovery of the first coronavirus case in Kenya, the president his excellency Uhuru Kenyatta ordered the simultaneous closing down of learning institutions countrywide on March 15th as a measure of curbing the spread of the virus.
With this unfortunate unfolding of events, academic calendars we’re dropped, teachers especially those in the private sector were sent into an indefinite unpaid leave, national examinations were cancelled and higher learning institutions turned into isolation centres.
In developed countries such as South Korea, learning institutions were closed down but the learning process continued as though they were never halted in the first place. With the help of their advanced technology and accessibility to the Internet, e-learning was successful.
In third world countries including Kenya, the learning process came to a halt as many took up the advantage of the indefinite covid19 holiday to watch TV, play video games, hang out more with friends and others took up menial jobs to help their parents make ends meet.
A good number of them have been reduced into lying idle around their home towns while others have ventured into the life of crime and a high percentage of school girls have been found pregnant with Machakos county having 3964 girls pregnant in five months.
The governments initiative of having schools enforce e-learning in full throttle became nothing but the desired dream when a majority of the learning institutions were unable to keep up to the task.
This is due to the digital divide in the country that has made it almost impossible for the e-learning process to be successful.
“Most students do not have laptops or money to purchase internet bundles to sustain the learning activities on a daily basis.
Imposing the expense on parents makes it worse since most of them are either middle-class people or low-income earners who will bargain between purchasing bundles or putting food on the table” says Mr Luke a teacher at Fountain Gate Academy in Bungoma, ” in our case, we had to cut short the program as we saw no use of having a handful number of students online in a class that should be having about 35 students” he added.How has the academic sector that is currently depending on online learning for the accomplishment of learning been affected by COVID-19? Click To Tweet
Online Learning is not the Big Thing Now
E-learning may serve as a useful substitute for activities in a normal classroom but it can only work if it is continuous and not introduced only during situations that call for school shutdowns and is then abandoned when normalcy returns.
“Online learning is not the next big thing, it is the big thing now, ” says educational author Donna Abernathy.
For e-learning to be successful their many things that have to be overcome. Studying from home still stands as a challenge to many as it is only possible when one has a strong internet connection which is almost an impossibility for those living in remote areas. Moreover, homes are usually crowded and noisy making it hard for one to concentrate."Online learning is not the next big thing, it is the big thing now, " says educational author Donna Abernathy. Click To Tweet
The literacy level of teachers and students in rural areas still remains an alarming factor. In 2013, when President Uhuru Kenyatta came to power, he had in mind the Ksh24.6 billion laptop project meant to digitalise the learning process of class one pupils.
The project then shifted from the issuance of laptops to the issuance of tablets and after the project was faced by a couple of obstacles such as the tablets being reported stolen and others being misused, the government resolved to the construction of computer laboratories in schools, the project is yet to be completed.
With such pending projects, the illiteracy levels still remain high among teachers and students in rural areas. The ratio of students to a computer will still be high considering the overpopulated state of classrooms in rural areas where a class holds a minimum of 50 pupils. In other areas, the ratio of pupils per desk is 10:1 according to research done by the UNICEFs Kids In need of Desks.
The inadequacy of digital devices is not the only challenge being faced by pupils especially those in rural areas, internet accessibility is also a threat.
Kenya has a population of 48million people with the majority of people living in rural areas. In these remote villages, only 22% of the population has access to the internet. This factor alone limits the possibility of e-learning being successful.
The uncertainty of when a vaccine will be found or rather how long this pandemic will last has made online learning the new urgency.The inadequacy of digital devices is not the only challenge being faced by pupils especially those in rural areas, internet accessibility is also a threat. Click To Tweet
Even with the plan to reopen schools come January, the set date still remains uncertain as it depends on whether or not the number of infections would have subsided.
The pressure on seeking a way to deliver education to pupils without putting them at risk of contracting the deadly coronavirus has made e-learning the new urgency.
Role of Ministry of Education and ICT in Developing Online LearningKenyan E-learning Platform Creates Virtual Classrooms Amid COVID-19 Lockdown Click To Tweet
Technology is also developing at a high pace and also becoming expensive by the day. The need for teachers to be trained and acquainted with the required digital skills in the shortest time possible still remains unachieved.
Digital education is yet to be introduced to the majority of the public school and a number of private schools especially those in remote regions leaving students minus the knowledge required to facilitate online learning.
“For e-learning to be successful, the ministry of education and the ministry of ICT should work together to ensure that even students in the most remote areas have access to the internet at it’s most affordable prices, ” explains Daniel Mwaringa an educational analyst.
Mr Mwaringa has the interest of all students at heart and only considers education successful if it reaches every student in Kenya.
He also insists that e-learning sessions need to be introduced into the system at a slower pace to ensure it does not worsen inequalities to education access or lockout millions of learners due to poverty lines but most importantly it’s introduction should not stock out controversies and bitterness among parents because it has exposed the huge economic disparities in homes.
Online learning has not been fully embraced in the recent past. Embracing it now with such urgency only makes it harder. With the country barely hanging onto its economic clutches and families struggling to makes ends meet, the expensive budget involved with online learning simply becomes a huddle to the common mwananchi.
Kenyan E-learning Platform Creates Virtual Classrooms Amid COVID-19 Lockdown
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- Dr. Tayo Oyedeji: How I Retired at 40 & How You Can Prepare for Early Retirement.
1. Religion in the Age of Coronavirus
If we have learned anything from COVID-19, it is that the miracle and faith-healing industry in Kenya is nothing but a sham and that prayers alone will not solve the country’s imminent health crisis.
Read more at: The Elephant – Speaking truth to power.
2. Kenyans Embrace Online Learning in Face of COVID School Shutdowns
NAIROBI – Online learning during the coronavirus pandemic is providing opportunities to hundreds of students in northeast Kenya, where the school was canceled even before COVID-19, as teachers fled terrorist attacks.
The al-Shabab militant group killed six teachers and four students in Garissa county in January and March. But distance learning is allowing teachers and students to safely complete the school year, a practice that many in the area hope to continue after the pandemic. Read More
3. Follow the Bridge: COVID-19 and Remote Learning in Kenya
The Digital Age is understood differently across continents but in Africa, the context and use could be different though the paradigm of immersion in technology could be holding in both circumstances. The rate of emergence of new technologies is alarming but human beings will adjust to survive and thrive in uncertain times.
There is a relationship between our institutions and our traditional thinking or what may be referred to as ‘architectural design’ of that particular age.
Mostly, our institutions, especially educational ones were built largely for the generation at that time (brick and mortar) with no intuition of the digital age approaching and taking over and other unforeseen circumstances. Read More
4. Pivoting to Inclusion: Leveraging Lessons from the COVID-19 Crisis for Learners with Disabilities
The world is faced with a global education emergency of unprecedented scale. According to estimates by the World Bank, the COVID-19 pandemic, at its peak, caused more than 180 countries to mandate temporary school closures, leaving 85 percent of the world’s learners out of school.
Children with disabilities and their families, especially those living in poverty, face significant multiple vulnerabilities during this pandemic, including education, health, and social protection.
The World Bank’s Inclusive Education Iniative (IEI) invites you to participate in a Gloal Seminar to discuss our latest Issues Paper, ‘Pivoting to Inclusion: Leveraging Lessons from the COVID-19 Crisis for Learners with Disabilities.’
The live event will feature experts and thought leaders who will provide reflections on the paper, based on their unique perspectives on education, remote learning, and social inclusion and protection.
5. Virtual learning under lockdown casts doubt on Kenya as the Silicon Savannah
Kenya’s reputation as the Silicon Savannah should mean it is well placed to shift its education sector towards effective virtual learning, in place as part of measures to contain the COVID-19 epidemic. But millions of pupils lack access to the required technology, and low-tech solutions remain vital in many areas.
Kenya made international headlines in late July when the government announced that all universities and tertiary institutions would remain closed until January 2021 due to poor compliance with COVID-19 regulations.
This means that all learning institutions, ranging from kindergarten to university, will have shuttered their doors for two-thirds of the academic year, leading to over 18 million pre-primary, primary and secondary school learners from mid-March 2020 not benefitting from in-class instruction, according to the Ministry of Education.
Additionally, several million university students have also faced a suboptimal learning environment even though they had better access to information communications technology. Read More