A Comparison of Information and Communication Technology Application in New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and Non-NEPAD Schools in Kenya

Article excerpt

Introduction and Literature Review

The New partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) was a combined project of the United Nations and the World Bank, which aims at developing an integrated socio-economic framework for Africa's renewal (Ogule, 2009; Oracle, 2005; Tilvawala, Myers, & Andrade, 2009). Its three main areas of operation include economic, educational and social dimensions (NEPAD, 2005; Oracle, 2005). NEPAD's aim was to have Africans develop home-grown solutions to the continent's problems of poverty, illiteracy, and disease. Infrastructure, especially Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs), was identified as a key priority action area in order to promote conducive conditions for education and sustainable development (NEPAD, 2005). To fulfill the continent's ICT objectives, the NEPAD e-Africa commission was tasked to develop and implement the NEPAD ICT programme. Among the ICT high priority projects identified by the commission's headquarters in South Africa was the NEPAD e-school initiative (or NEPAD ICT Pilot Schools Project).

The NEPAD e-school initiative is a multi country, multi stakeholder initiative that was intended to impart ICT skills to young Africans in both primary and secondary schools in order to improve the quality of education and to bring information closer to the people (AbdulSamad, 2006; Ogule, 2009; Pring, 2009). NEPAD (2005) explains that it is a multi stakeholder because it involves different private companies in the ICT sector willing to partner with each participating country.

During the conceptualization stage, demonstration or piloting was introduced as a crucial initial step in the implementation of this program (NEPAD, 2005; Tilvawala et al., 2009). Six schools from each participating country were selected for piloting the project (Oracle, 2005; Tilvawala et al., 2009). According to Oracle (2005), the participating schools in Kenya were Maranda Boys (Nyanza province), Vihiga Boys' (Western province), Menengai High (Rift valley), Wajir Girls (North eastern), Mumbi Girls (Central province), and Isiolo Girls' (Eastern province).

NEPAD's project team further explained that Kenya's Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MOEST), in partnership with three companies (Microsoft Corporation, Oracle Corporation, and Digital Satellite Television (DSTV)), would carry out the program implementation in Kenya. Microsoft sponsored the programmes in Maranda, Vihiga, and Wajir Girls while Oracle (2005) sponsored the programmes in Mumbi, Isiolo, and Menengai high schools. According to the Ministry of Education (2006), the schools were to provide infrastructure to be used while each company was to provide the kit for hardware and the software. DSTV provided to all the schools a satellite dish, 20" Television (T.V), videocassette recorder, and satellite decoder as well as a Very Small Aperture Terminal (V-SAT) system for Internet access via the African Computer Services Centre in Nairobi. Within the school, each classroom was to have a computer served from the laboratory for the teacher's use. Besides the kits, Microsoft and Oracle were also mandated to train the teachers in the Kenyan schools on how to adapt these programmes.

Earlier on, in 1996 the government, through MOEST, declared that all secondary schools should introduce computer studies. It was not clear how schools were to acquire the computers; as a result most schools failed to comply (Odera, 2002). The government in the same year approached UNESCO to fund its computer education programme. UNESCO responded by not only supplying some national schools with computers, but also trained the principals and a few of the teachers to start off the programme. To date less than ten percent of secondary schools offer computer studies despite its perceived role in the nation's socio-economic development (Avgerou, 2003; Okuogo, 2006; Sahlfeld, 2009; Weiner & Rumiany, 2007). The few schools that had an ICT programme, limited the number of candidates who could take up the subject, considering it a specialty despite its being an essential subject as are compulsory subjects like Mathematics and Languages. …