CIO East Africa (Nairobi)

23 July 2014

Kenya: Eneza Taking Over Rural Classrooms With Modern Devices

Eneza is not necessarily seeking to replace the Kenya Government's laptop project but when it comes to enhancing education for the young Kenyan students through the use of technology, it is coming pretty close.

Eneza (Swahili for 'to reach' or 'to spread') comprises of a team of volunteers who are on a mission to give students access locally and is easily accessible through the mobile device.

Eneza also gives parents, school administrators and teachers the necessary tools to help their students. These tools are in the form of meaningful data and tips.

In the last year according to an Impact Survey Report conducted on the impact of the education programme, there was a 37 point different using Eneza for 2hours per week for 5 months and those that did not.

The students using Eneza attained higher marks in every subject especially mathematics and there was also a 9point difference between students using Eneza for only one hour per week and students that do not.

Vitalis Opiyo, the head teacher of M. M. Chandaria said: "The greatest worry of any parents is how their kids use the mobile phone. Eneza is a timely solution for this, bringing a positive use of the phone to our kids. At the same time, the cost is affordable to most parents."

Enhanced learning through use of technological devices is also in line with the Kenyan governments 'One laptop per Child Project' and although the laptop projects has suffered several blows, it is important for Education programmes such as Eneza to continue with educating the less privileged children as education.

All this, with their one objective which is to transform the lives of the youngsters and bridge the information gap in the modern technological era.

Managing classroom eLearning

Waswaki is a partnership between Paul Wafula and David Musyoki. The firm is quite small in size with 3 employees; this though, doesn't stop Wafula from looking to transform the delivery of education in the country.

Their classroom solution is currently targeted at institutions of higher learning and private high schools. The solution though is suitable from small elementary schools to universities. Wafula says he was inspired by a comment by Dr Bitange Ndemo, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication who remarked that the educational sector was not being served by IT solutions. "I looked at the more established markets like Europe and Asia to see what kind of solutions they build for their education sector and see what is lacking in this country," he says. There is a lot of hardware deployment within universities and schools, ranging from computer labs to laptops and PCs owned by both students and tutors.

There has also been the deployment of both fixed and wireless networks across campuses. Wafula's main areas of interest are finance and eLearning. He believes that classroom session management has been ignored in the country. "If you walk in many classrooms in the country, you will find we are still using traditional modes of instructing students. In some institutions, students are not allowed to carry PCs into the classroom as schools have not found a way of utilising this infrastructure using classroom sessions," he says. A key issue during classes involving PCs is that most students get distracted by the many applications and Internet on their PCs and do not follow the tutor's instructions. Classroom management systems enable the tutor to monitor, instruct and manage classroom activity.

The tutor is now able to see what each student is doing on their PC without having to go round the class. In addition, the growth of the Internet sees lecturers and students referring to online resources such as online books.

This can then be integrated into the classroom sessions. Net Support Software is one of the providers of such classroom management suites. Microsoft is an upcoming player; the 2011 Microsoft Multipoint Server has features of classroom management and monitoring. Wafula says that school which are potential users might not identify the need of such solutions. "One of the main challenges of IT companies is that you discover the problem, build a solution and deliver it to the user.

The user then says that they do not have a problem and therefore do not need a solution," says Wafula. While classroom management solutions are available on PC, Wafula says that he is keen on having the same solutions deployed to mobile devices. "This is something you cannot ignore or prevent; the introduction of mobile devices in all sectors," he says. Technology and solutions have to be merged together as there is a real danger of both going different ways. "Most people do not know how to differentiate between a good technological idea and a solution provided by that technological idea," he says. You have to have good software which effectively solves the problem. Wafula is therefore keen not to come up with tech savvy solutions that do not address real problems in the education sector.

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