Magazine article Technos: Quarterly for Education and Technology

School-Based Technology in Kenya: The Noble Dream

Magazine article Technos: Quarterly for Education and Technology

School-Based Technology in Kenya: The Noble Dream

Article excerpt

Advancement in technology has dramatically revolutionized ways in which information is collected, analyzed, transmitted, and stored. This has made information technology (IT) a vital component within fields that rely heavily on databases such as banking, trade, agriculture, television, engineering, medicine, and research.

The practical nature of IT as a discipline reflects the skills companies and organizations will continue to look for as they recruit their workforce during this century. Currently, the rapid growth in the sector has left many employers unable to adequately satisfy their demand for skilled personnel. Many are desperate to retain their qualified staff by offering them attractive remuneration packages. With this significant growth in IT, countries have been forced to reexamine their educational policies, aims, and objectives with the view to incorporating IT into educational planning and development.

It is a fact that there is dramatic global change taking place in technology, which is likely to cause tipple effects on economic development. This has been recognized by the Kenya government, which also sees schools as having a central role to play in equipping its youth with the skills needed to fit in the current job market. These skills will enable them to efficiently receive and transmit information in form of words, numbers, images, and sound.

Educators and curriculum planners have been compelled to go back to the drawing board to reexamine the national goals and objectives of education. This will ensure that the products of the system are adequately prepared for the challenges that await them in the world of work, both within and outside Kenya. The government is also keen to ensure that Kenyans keep abreast of changes taking place in the world to guarantee that the country remains an integral part of the global economy. However, the greatest challenge facing the country at the moment is how to prepare its young people to become literate and able to fit in a society where information technology is fast changing and quickly replacing other forms of media.

Kenya Today and Yesterday

How then will this noble dream be realized? One needs to understand the diverse nature of the country to fully comprehend the magnitude of the task ahead. Kenya is a small country whose total area is about 581,677 square kilometers with, according to the 1999 census, a total population of 28,686,607. This gives it a population density of about 49 persons per square kilometer. In view of the fact that only one-third of the country receives adequate and reliable rainfall and is suitable for food production, this figure is very high. Environmental degradation, therefore, is prevalent in the few settled areas, with pressure groups constantly cautioning about the adverse ecological effects of this high population pressure on the land. This is likely to eventually have a negative impact on any meaningful sustainable development in the affected areas.

Kenya's climate varies from semiarid in the northern part to the high rainfall areas in the central, western, and coastal regions. This variety in climate, coupled with high rates of rural-to-urban migration and urbanization, has given rise to diverse cultural settings in the country, each with its own unique development requirements and problems.

An examination of Kenya's historical background also helps to shed more light on the magnitude of the arduous task facing the country as it attempts to incorporate IT into the school curriculum.

At independence in 1963, the country inherited a centralized system of education from Britain. In this system, a lot of emphasis was placed on examinations, which were done at the end of each cycle of education. Poor performance in these examinations prohibited progression to the next level of education at a time when education guaranteed a good job and better life. The main focus for the teacher in this system, therefore, was to ensure adequate syllabus coverage rather than to experiment with modern innovations in education. …

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