The Government has directed all pay television providers to air a State-run education channel to support children’s learning at home.
Broadcast signal providers who transmit radio channels have also been advised to carry the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) education channel on their platforms.
The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), in a letter to the providers, wants the changes to take effect immediately.
“The carriage of the said must-carry channel shall be at no cost to KICD and shall be available as free-to-air at all times on respective licensees platforms,” said acting CA director general Mercy Wanjau.
The Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) operates the Edu TV that airs programmes aimed at learners in primary and secondary schools as well as tertiary level.
The institute develops, disseminates and transmits education programmes and curriculum-support materials through mass media, electronic and distance learning. The television transmission is currently done by Signet Multiplexing Centre located at KBC Broadcasting House.
The programmes are currently only carried on free-to-air platforms thus locking out pay TV subscribers.
Ms Wanjau said Edu TV will be available to all users including those whose pay TV subscriptions may not be up to date.
“You are therefore required to include the said KICD channel on your DTT (digital terrestrial television) and pay TV platforms on the national stream as soon as possible until such a time when contrary advise shall be issued in writing by the authority,” said Wanjau.
The directive will rope in platforms like DStv and increase coverage of out-of-class learning programmes targeted at learners who are at home in measures to stop the spread of coronavirus disease. Broadcasters who will have complied with the directive have been instructed to notify the authority within 48 hours in writing.
“Further ensure that you frequently run a scrolling text on your platform to inform viewers about the channel position for Edu TV,” read the instructions issued on March 24.
The directive comes after the government closed all schools and ordered the ministry of Education to implement out-of-class lessons through online, TV and radio channels. School children have been advised to access lessons through the KBC radio channel, Edu-channel TV, Edu TV on YouTube, and the Kenya Education Cloud.
Radio programmes run from Monday to Friday through a defined transmission timetable on KBC’s Kiswahili and English service stations for up to eight hours daily.
KICD acting CEO Joel Mabonga said he has formed an internal advisory committee to ensure the out-of-class learning programme goes on smoothly.
“We have scaled up our technical and broadcast teams with representation from the Information and Communication Technology Authority for back-up,” said Mr Mabonga, adding that a team from KBC is assisting in programming.
The CEO also said the institute wants to hear from parents, teachers and learners on how it can improve its services.
“We are getting more interactive by looking at social platforms for feedback. We have opened our lines to parents and teachers for immediate feedback in our subsequent programmes.”
Complaints have emerged over inadequate gadgets to access education materials, poor concentration span of learners, scramble for available TV and radio channels by other home users, and lack of proper feedback from the lessons providers.