Increasing Equity and Access to Education in Kenya: The Role of Open and Distance Learning in Teacher Development

By Agalo, Joyce; Agalo, Jerry | Research Journal in Organizational Psychology and Educational Studies (RJOPES), March 2014 | Go to article overview

Increasing Equity and Access to Education in Kenya: The Role of Open and Distance Learning in Teacher Development


Agalo, Joyce, Agalo, Jerry, Research Journal in Organizational Psychology and Educational Studies (RJOPES)


INTRODUCTION

The expansion of education especially at the basic level in developing countries over the past few decades has been tremendous. Alongside the expansion, there have been the advances in information and communication technologies which have led to the emergence of new approaches in the delivery of education. One such approach is Open and distance learning (ODL).

In most developing countries ODL still continues to struggle to gain the social acceptance and prestige as that of conventional or contact education. This is because education as has been and continues to be known to the majority of individuals is face-to-face. In essence, this mode of education delivery is characterised by the synchronous physical presence of both the teacher and learner in a specific location. In addition, this traditional campus-based form of education provision has a longer history than ODL and has therefore established itself both in terms of content, structures and mode of delivery. However, despite the above stated scenario, a number of

emerging economies and developing countries such as, South Africa, India, Tanzania, and Nigeria have well established Open and distance learning institutions and programmes, and have even successfully used ODL to train teachers. In fact, when considered on a global perspective, UNESCO (2002:3) indicates that "Distance education has been used to teach, support and develop teachers for many years ... experience demonstrates that distance education can be used to enable teachers to learn and to gain qualifications."

The practice of conventional campus-based education system in Kenya, for example, is characterised by centralised, authoritarian, and rigid structures. Such contexts often hinder the emergence of open, flexible and participatory approaches associated with open and distance education. Today, one would define distance education not entirely as a mode of delivery that overcomes the geographic distance between teacher and learner, but rather one that supports the self determination of the learner. In this respect, learner self determination would pertain to three levels: content, time and location. ODL can therefore be understood to provide learners with greatest possible degree of flexibility and independence with respect to preferred course content, time and location. This opens up access for learners of all kinds.

Currently, Kenya has over 130,000 students enrolled locally in both public and private universities in a variety of programmes. The average annual admission in all Kenyan public universities through the Joint Admission Board (JAB) has been about ten thousand (10,000) students annually, until 2007 when it was increased to sixteen thousand (16,000) and to about 30,000 over the last three years. This translates to only 12.3% of the total number of qualified students being admitted through JAB. The disparity between those meeting university minimum entry requirements and those failing to get access into university education is causing concern and the government is already looking for alternatives such as increasing the number of universities and the establishment of a National Open University. In addition, the government is also encouraging dual mode universities to enhance their ODL programmes in order to increase access to university education.

Thus, the demand for education in Kenya is increasing annually and ODL is significantly emerging as a viable option that should be embraced aggressively to provide effective access to higher education. This is because ODL has been proven to enhance access opportunities and provide a second chance to the increasing number of learners who want to upgrade their qualifications. It also enhances equity since it can reach remote, underdeveloped and marginalised areas. In this case, it is seen to bring education closer to the learner, thus increasing the chances of enrolment by those who could not have otherwise had the opportunity of accessing it under the conventional campus-based system which is fixed to a specific location and constrained by physical capacity. …

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