Technology helping to Reach Last Mile Schools in Kenya

By Sharon Atieno

Education is one of the pillars that the Kenyan government is relying on to achieve its Vision 2030 Agenda. Despite this, access is still a challenge for some.

It is in this regard, that technology has emerged as one of the solutions to increase access especially for those living in the arid and semi-arid areas.

M-shule is one of this technological innovations. It is an offline platform which utilizes artificial intelligence to deliver personalized learning support over text messages and chatbots.

For the arid and semi-arid areas, Albina Mumbi, Supervisor, Operations and Accounts management, M-Shule, says, “ we digitized the school curriculum content for grade one to grade three where they learn English and Kiswahili.”

“ We transferred the classroom to the phone, so whatever they are learning in class they can go home and revise.”

M-Shule uses data generated by student users (individually) to create more challenging content (or review difficult content if necessary) so that students can progress through the curriculum. In this way, M-Shule delivers personalized content based on each student’s needs.

So far, the platform has been translated into eight languages and has over 20,000 users across East Africa.

According to Mumbi, there is a need to tailor-make solutions and policies to reach the last mile schools for the learners to get quality education like others in the rest of the country.

Mlugha, another innovation, is bridging the gap, especially among pastoralist communities. The application which is mother-tongue based translates the curriculum into indigenous languages.

Though the content is in indigenous language, it also has English subtitles, says Abdinoor Alimahad, Founder of Mlugha adding, “we are killing two birds with one stone. Using what we know to learn what we don’t know.”

The App features 20 indigenous languages in Kenya, three of which have been approved for use in schools by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD).

However, the App is online or offline depending on internet connectivity in the learner’s environment, Alimahad said noting that the app has been downloaded about 11,700 times.

There are several Apps for different subjects to make navigation easy for the learner. It also contains open source educational content to add more value.

Both Mumbi and Alimahad were speaking at the Kenya Edtech Summit which brought together different stakeholders including education technology enthusiasts and innovators as well as policymakers among other partners.

Organized by EdTech East Africa in partnership with Mastercard Foundation, Acumen East Africa, Imaginable Futures, and EdTech Hub from 24th to 25th, November, the summit aimed to create a more connected, evidence-driven movement around using technology to produce an inclusive, effective and resilient learning system in Kenya.

Similarly, the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in partnership with the Ministry of education is connecting schools to the internet through the Giga initiative.

In Phase 1 of the Accelerate connectivity prototype in Kenya, Giga supported the government to connect 110 schools across all 47 counties.

In these schools, connectivity has enabled quick access for learners to online educational materials stored in the Kenya Education Cloud (KEC) and Open Educational Resources (OER), and has made it easier for peers to share materials.

In Phase 2 of the Accelerate prototype, Giga will scale the connectivity to 1,050 schools across the country.

” It’s a big challenge to reach last mile schools but technology can play a role in creating more inclusion and access for people,” Co-founder, EdTech East Africa, Jeniffer Otieno said.

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