By Ogova Ondego
Published October 20, 2013
As Kenya marks 50 years of independence in 2013, it is time for this eastern African country to incorporate media and information literacy and competence in the use of technology in her education system right from pre-school.
The country need not only evaluate the relevance of her current 8-4-4 system and expand secondary schools, but also introduce new teaching methods in education with a view to preparing students for the global village market. The country cannot afford to do less for the 21st century.
All over the world, it appears, governments are reviewing their education system with a view to marrying them with technological advancement. Kenya cannot afford to be left behind.
Due to Information Communication Technology (ICT), modern children seem to know more as they have access to more information. They also think and react faster as the speed of the computer games they play help to hone their quick reaction skills.
According to Singapore’s Impact magazine, such children find traditional teaching material and stock-in-trade visual aids both boring and backward.
Perhaps that’s why it is prudent to come up with new education methods to teach children on how to process the apparently insurmountable information at their disposal. This type of education will no doubt be different from what is currently available in terms of method and content.
In this new type of education, teaching the alphabet will also change. ‘A’ for instance will no longer refer to apple the fruit but apple the computer just as ‘B’, ‘C’, ‘F’, ‘G’ and ‘I’ stand for Bluetooth, Duo Core2, Facebook, Google and iPhone, respectively, and not Bird, Cat, Frog, Giraffe, and Ink or Igloo they may have referred to before the advancement of the Information Age, aka the 21st Century.
Technological advancement calls for radical change in the way education is viewed in the 21st century. Students must be equipped with media and information literacy and ICT skills while they are still in school so they may get absorbed in the job market without having to be retrained. Academic degrees, diplomas and certificates alone are no longer adequate without competence in the use of ICT.
Instead of getting so much preoccupied with the expansion of secondary schools or universal basic education up to Form Four (Grade 12), perhaps the government of Kenya should strive to equip the available pre, primary and secondary schools with modern ICT—not just computer—facilities. Schools must either adaptor be left behind by the relentless march of technological changes.
But, like any other innovation, says Impact, ICT may also pose some challenges.
One, the attention span of children and youth is being considerably reduced. For instructors, facilitators or teachers to get their lessons across, they may have to post them on websites with the latest graphics.
Two, students may end up lacking in discipline as teachers may no longer have clearly defined authority over them.
Three, students may be influenced into moral decadence as parents will no longer control what they access online.
Four, children may be unable to develop meaningful human relationships as they spend most of their time not with fellow humans, but with their informer, educator, entertainer and companion—the computer!
But as the advantages of technology seem to outweigh the disadvantages, Kenyan education experts have to make technology a priority in the country’s curriculum.
George Kinoti , a professor of zoology, argues in his book, Hope for Africa and What the Christian Can Do, that Africa should invest in science and technology, formulate relevant curricula and forbid ill-trained politicians from meddling in education that he refers to as ‘the backbone of any nation’.