The Kenyan Government’s efforts to provide digital skills during the pandemic through the Ajira Digital Initiative has been commended by UNESCO during a global forum on “Driving Inclusive Education with Technology”. Dr. Fengchun Miao, Chief of Technology and Artificial Intelligence in Education at UNESCO, commended the Ministry of ICT’s commitment and efforts in developing digital skills.
Whilst talking about the cost barrier for inclusive education, he highlighted the DigiTruck project that the Ministry has in partnership with Huawei in Kenya as an “innovative digital solution for people who cannot afford the cost [for online education] by themselves”.
The DigiTruck involves the use of a converted shipping container as a mobile classroom that is solar-powered and complete with laptops and internet access to go around the country to help teach digital skills to youth in underserved communities so they can improve their education and get jobs online.
Speaking at the global conference, “Huawei Connect,” the Cabinet Administrative Secretary (CAS) in the Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs, Ms Nadia Ahmed Abdalla shared the efforts Kenya is making to use technology for inclusive education. She appreciated the partnership that the Ministry has between Ajira Digital and Huawei: “I would like to thank the partnership that we have with Huawei because they have provided us with the DigiTruck that was providing classes everywhere,” adding that “with COVID-19 going on, a lot of the learning is being done online, and so being able to have a truck that is mobile, is able to give connectivity and also have different tools that young people can use in order to continue their education is something that is vital and key and makes a difference”.
During Ms Abdalla’s speech, she stated that technology played an important role in education, and was a powerful tool for transforming learning: “The future belongs to learners” and “One of the most important aspects of technology in education is the ability to level the field of opportunity for every young person,” she noted.
Ms Abdalla noted that learning that is enabled by technology requires robust infrastructure. She explained: “As we now know, being connected is crucial to life itself, and those without a reliable digital connection are at a disadvantage. We are looking at expansion of broadband connectivity to further enhance internet connectivity by facilitating lower connectivity charges, increase of production of devices and accessories for learners and teachers, and the provision of integrated programs for special needs learners”.
Dr Miao also commended the government’s commitment to address other barriers such as language barriers so those with indigenous languages can learn online as well as barriers for those with disabilities. He further applauded the government’s commitment to roll-out and scale-up successful programs as well as the localization and community engagement for such programs.
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