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Digital Literacy Programme a Blessing to learners, stakeholders

The  Digital Literacy Progragramme (DLP) came as a blessing to many Kenyan Children as it is said to have increased and maintained the number of pupils in class.

A visit to St. Peter’s Primary School in Narok North Sub County revealed that the number of pupils in grade one to three  had tremendously shot up as compared to the period before the digital gadgets were introduced.

“Classes used to have less than 40 pupils with numerous cases of absenteeism every week. The situation has since changed  with the introduction of the digital gargets, as many learners are eager to have a touch of it,” said Ms. Mary Mbithe, a  grade one teacher in St. Peter’s Primary School.

Ms. Mbithe however, challenged  Teachers  Service  Commission (TSC) to employ more teachers to cater for the high demand in  schools following the influx of pupils who go up to 60 pupils per class.

“The programme is a good move but the ratio of teacher to pupil should be looked at keenly so that teachers do not lose  class control. The required ratio is one teacher to 40 learners, said Ms. Mbithe.

She  also lamented frequent black outs and technical challenges during the learning session that usually force classes to  shift to the old form of learning.

The  Head teacher, Oldepesi Primary School in Narok West Sub-County, Ms. Anne  Bor  lauded the programme, saying it has helped  in improving the class performance.

“The  pupils are very attentive and active in class. They find it more exciting to learn than before when they had to do a  lot  of  writing,” said Ms. Bor.

She said the school was given 79 tablets and two laptops for the teachers which they use to teach social studies,
mathematics, English, Kiswahili and supplementary topics like story books and Tusome (for the pupils learning to read).

The  officer in charge of ICT in Narok County,  Cyrus  Ngetich said 32,809 tablets, 1,146 laptops for teachers and 573  projectors had been issued to schools in the county.

He  noted that the programme had covered 93 percent of the schools in the six sub counties in the county which represents  573 schools out of 616 schools in the county.

“Our target was to reach out to 616 public schools in the six sub-counties in our county. But the fact that 93 percent of  the schools are covered and still rolling out shows we are doing well,” he said.

He   was  in agreement that the main challenge they were facing was physical damages of the devices, power blackouts  and some  schools not yet connected with power.

Ngetich  commends the ongoing refresher courses for the teachers saying it will improve on their knowledge to handle  the   gadgets and the learners.

The  officer  further  refuted  claims by Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) Secretary General, Wilson   Sossion  in the  recent past that the programme was a failure.

“I am confident that we are on the right track as things are moving on as planned. We may not have scored 100 percent, but we are improving day by day and I am optimistic that in few days we will have achieved our dream,” said  the  ICT official.

He said they were keen in the successful implementation of the new Competency Based Curriculum (CBC), saying the devices  will be encrypted with the new syllabus.

“The  DLP  was  implemented  to  close the digital gap in our nation and we are focused on seeing to it that the goal is   achieved. It has been a rough road but we are still moving on to achieve the set goals,” he noted.

The  Narok County Commissioner (CC), George Natembeya  asked all parents to take advantage of the programme to ensure all  children are enrolled in school.

“Last year, our county led in early marriages and teenage pregnancies after scoring 40 percent teenage pregnancies. We expect the trend to go down as many children are now enrolling in school,” he said.

He challenged chiefs to be in the frontline of ensuring all school going children remain in school as the government has  paid for their education.

The programme which was started by the government in 2013 aims at ensuring pupils in standard one to three are able to use digital technology and communication tools in learning with an overarching objective of transforming learning in Kenya into a 21st Century education system.

In February this year, ICT Cabinet Secretary (CS), Joe  Mucheru clarified that the DLP was being implemented in phases and  that construction of computer laboratories were one of the deliverables in phase two of the programme.

The CS said the computer labs were meant to enable learners from the upper grades of class four to eight access computers  for learning to ensure that there is inclusivity for all the learners.

By  Ann  Salaton/Alvin  Murithi

 

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