Government launches DigiSchool connectivity

Dr Belio Kipsang, the Principal Secretary for Basic Education. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

As part of a collaborative initiative between the government, UNESCO, and Huawei, 13 primary schools in Kenya have been granted a remarkable opportunity to gain access to internet connectivity. The DigiSchool project aims to amplify digital learning capabilities within educational institutions.

The venture, operating under the Digital Masterplan and the government's Digital Superhighway initiative, was initially piloted on December 17, 2022, at Maragima Primary School, a beneficiary of the program. The primary focus of this effort is to enhance digital education by expanding internet connectivity to schools.

Dr Belio Kipsang, the Principal Secretary for Basic Education, introduced a report assessing the impacts and lessons derived from the pilot project, one year after its commencement. He stated that this report will serve as a guide to optimize the effects of the initiative for both learners and educators throughout the nation.

Acknowledging the government's aspirations to extend internet connectivity to all schools in alignment with the Digital Masterplan and the Digital Superhighway, Dr Kipsang highlighted the transformative potential of technology in schools. He expressed his gratitude to Huawei's TECH4ALL initiative and UNESCO for their collaboration in providing sustainable internet connectivity to the government's fibre-optic network.

The assessment report revealed that a significant portion of learners in the country are eager for internet connectivity to satisfy their educational needs. Furthermore, the introduction of internet connectivity in primary schools, launched in December last year, has enabled most institutions to save up to Sh120,000 (USD1,100) on mobile data bundles.

Key findings from the report include that 98 per cent of learners indicated that the internet met their needs, with 84 per cent expressing that it made learning more exciting. The study was conducted in the 13 pioneer schools, and it highlighted the positive impact of internet connectivity on education quality, learner engagement, and the attitudes of both students and teachers.

The report recommends several measures, including expanding school connectivity to enhance education quality, providing digital skills training for educators and students, creating guidelines for responsible internet usage, and encouraging collaboration between stakeholders to ensure sustainable internet access for all schools.

Huawei's Deputy CEO for Kenya, Maureen Mwaniki, underscored the importance of ensuring that schools are not left behind in the digital revolution, enabling learners to prepare for future careers in the digital economy. UNESCO's Chief for Education in East Africa, Mamadou Lamine, highlighted the successful utilisation of the Internet by learners, particularly in enhancing STEM-related lessons.

The event also recognised winners of the Digischool Creative Competition, which challenged students to reflect on the impact of the internet on their education. The winners were honored with tablets and smartwatches, with Amatu Primary School in Meru County receiving accolades for being an outstanding school in the competition.