People Daily on Sept 28th, 2015

eKitabu Project Attracts Interest From Rest of Africa

DnE-Kitabu Will

eKitabu, a joint Kenya-US firm, which aims at ensuring that children in Kenyan schools are roped into the platform of e-learning, is drawing interest from the rest of Africa.

eKitabu Chief Executive Officer Will Clurman says the project is gaining traction, with countries such as Ghana, South Africa and Rwanda, keen to borrow the model. “Because we are doing unique programmes, everyone wants to emulate us and that means this is the future,” he says.

eKitabu has been using partners to facilitate students to learn to develop digital content themselves. So far, it has successfully brought digital content to over 300 schools in Kenya through its joint arrangement with the Ministry of Education via the Government’s pilot programme in e-learning.

However, Mercy Kirui, the firm’s publishing account manager, has decried the slow pace of publishers in digitizing their content. “We have 30 publishers locally and seven from abroad on board the eKitabu platform, which is commendable but it is critical that these groups understand that digitization is necessary at this point in time.

We partner with some corporates who assist with distribution and installations but content has to be available, cheap and revised so that it makes sense to the end user,’’ she adds. eKitabu has, for the third year running organised an essay competition in the 47 counties as part of its mission to advance education.

The digital contest is open to all students in all public and private schools across Kenya and this year’s winners from different categories have been identified.  This year’s theme was an open letter to the Head of State; Dear Mr President,…My life as a Digital Learner. Over 2,100 entries were received as the two judging panels including teachers, publishing firms, ministry of Education and the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development went about the stringent duty of selection. According to released findings by the group, challenges abound, especially on infrastructure for most schools.

Other prevalent issues cropping up were the lack of funds to get basic tools, bureaucracy and technology incapacitation, especially for marginalized communities. Just like in the past, girls performed better in languages in both primary and secondary schools categories.

Michael Ng’eno, a senior programme manager at eKitabu said most schools are already keen on boarding the eKitabu concept. “We can hit a target of 10,000 to 15,000 institutions in the near term,’’ he says.  This year also marks the first time Swahili Essays were introduced and accounted for 25 of all entries.

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