The annual ICT4D Conferences have proven to be an invaluable opportunity for NGOs, private sector organizations, universities, governmental agencies and foundations to share their experience in using ICT to increase the impact of development programs and to learn from each other. In 2016, 715 individuals from 76 countries and 301 private sector and public sector and civil society explored the ways to harness the full power of digital solutions to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Our thanks to Accenture, Catholic Relief Services, Esri, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, iMerit Technology Services, Inmarsat, IS Solutions, Making All Voices Count, Mercy Corps, Microsoft, NetHope, Oxfam, Pandexio, Qualcom Wireless Reach, RTI International, SimbaNet and World Vision for making that possible.
In 2013, the Kenyan government pledged to give devices to every child in the first year of primary school. At the same time, Nairobi based EdTech start-up, eLimu, was getting encouraging results from a test of its new revision app in a small informal school in Kawangware. “Average marks in science went from 58% to 73% in a single term,” The Economist reported.
Qualcomm Wireless Reach gave us the opportunity to run a pilot in a large government school in Embakasi, Nairobi. We gave nearly 300 tablets to 37 teachers, and 250 students in classes 7 and 8. They were already being used the very next day.
This is the story of what happens when sky-high expectations come face to face with the reality on the ground. This is what happened in one school in Embakasi last year, but it is also the story of what is going to happen in 20,000 Kenyan schools next year.
A huge public with limited resources is not the “quick win” scenario of most pilots, but it is a much needed reality check. We realized digital education isn’t just about captivating learners; it’s about engaging teachers, involving head teachers from the onset, connecting the community, partnering with the government and more.
Only by providing thorough training and ongoing support can we give teachers the confidence to use technology effectively in the classroom, while engaging leadership and the wider community. This is vital if we are to go beyond digital literacy to improving educational outcomes.