In an online edition of the Nation Leadership Forum that focused on the impact of Covid-19 on Education, all the panelists urged Kenyans to embrace virtual learning not only in the face of this global pandemic but also for the future of education.
The UoN Vice Chancellor, Prof. Stephen Kiama who was one of the panelists expressed his hope of tertiary institutions fully adopting virtual learning, ‘We are using this time to see whether tertiary institutions can adopt virtual learning completely. It is easier to access information globally and to even host a guest lecturer within the virtual space. ‘
Dr. Sara Ruto, Chairperson, Covid-19 National Education Response committee disputed the notion that education has stopped; she opined that CBC has based a lot of its learning on parents- Values of responsibility, empathy, reaching out to others- these cannot be learned in the classroom. She mentioned that there is a digital divide in the country but digital learning tools are available and have been available since the 60’s; radio, television, youtube and Kenya education cloud that has always been the repository. She explained that as KICD they have always been ready but they need to improve especially on Radio where radio for different levels can be separated. She proposed that lower primary can have their own frequency, upper primary the same and a completely different one for Secondary schools.
Dr. Nicholas Letting, CEO KASNEB also noted that KASNEB has adopted online platforms for learning and soon they will pick up online examinations for professionals. On re-opening of schools, Dr. Letting said that there is no assurance of students’ safety and he also recommended adoption of virtual learning.
Prof. Charles Ong’ondo, an Associate professor, Faculty of Education at Moi University noted that teachers were not properly trained for online learning. He however said that teachers need to be included in the platforms that are currently available; Radio and TV are accessible across the country. He challenged the teachers to regroup and find new ways of engaging the learners from home.
Prof. Kiama, UoN VC outlined how the University has navigated the whole issue of online learning, ‘ The University was closed for about two weeks and senate had to come to the decision to keep the university operations running. If the University completely closed there wouldn’t be UoN even after covid-19. Hence we listened to what the staff and students said and the University provided data bundles for students and training on the online platforms for staff and students.’ He said.
UoN VC concluded by saying that we must invest in technology. We all need to embrace the new normal and data should be made affordable and accessible to all so that virtual learning can be a success.