Learners in primary and secondary schools have shunned online content that the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) has been offering since schools closed in March, opting to learn through other platforms, according to a recent survey.
The study by mobile service provider Safaricom shows that KICD recorded low uptake of its educational bundle downloadable by dialling *544# on mobile phones.
Learning materials from Longhorn Publishers, Shupavu 291 and Viusasa have better uptake, the numbers reveal.
Magoha praised content
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha has on many occasions praised the KICD content but the report shows many learners are shunning it.
Since the schools’ closure, some private institutions have been offering online lessons but there have been complaints that millions of children in public schools, especially those from marginalised areas, have been left to their own devices.
The research findings are a wake-up call to the government that recently announced plans to launch communal learning from September to help address the rich-poor gap that online programmes exposed.
The survey that got responses from 24,053 shows that more girls than boys have been using online learning platforms.
Almost two-thirds of the subscribers who used the Shupavu291 were females, with males making up only 35.4 percent.
The gender disparities do not stop at the number of subscribers.
Close to half of the learners reported that they mostly used their mothers’ phones (46.5 per cent) to access learning content as opposed to asking for their fathers’ phones (17.3 per cent).
“Parents and their children are looking for localised curriculum learning material,” Ms Joan Njogu, the head of commercial operations at Eneza Education, a digital education content company that runs the Shupavu291 platform in partnership with Safaricom, said.
Twenty-two per cent of the subscribers surveyed said they used their own phones with five per cent using their siblings’.
The survey revealed that more than half of the learners did not use phones without internet access.
In March, there were 592,000 subscribers but this number increased 1.66 million in July.
Learners in the Rift Valley were the biggest subscribers to education bundles at 29 per cent, followed by Nairobi with 23 per cent while Mt Kenya came in third with 21 per cent.
The Coast region trailed at seven per cent.
In terms of the class levels of the subscriber base, Form Ones recorded the highest subscription at 153,627, followed by Standard Eight learners (130,916).
Interestingly, only 69,681 Form Four candidates had subscribed.
Ms Njogu said that the greatest challenge has been to reach all learners.
Access to the service will be free up to the end of this month.