Speech by Dr. Fred Matiang'i, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Education
At the official opening of the global ICT Capacity Building Symposium
06 September 2016, Nairobi, Kenya
Your Excellency, Deputy President, Hon. William Ruto,
ICT Cabinet Secretary, Joe Mucheru,
Honourable Ministers present,
Secretary General of the ITU, Mr. Houlin Zhao,
Director General of Communications Authority of Kenya, Mr. Francis Wangusi
Ladies and Gentlemen.
It gives me great pleasure to join you today on this auspicious occasion as we gather to discuss way of improving ability to access and use ICTs.
ICT is a critical component of the world's economies today, having permeated all sectors. The education sector is both a beneficiary of ICT and a contributor to the development of ICT. In fact, with this kind of symbiotic relationship, improving skills is a vital component of the ICTs growth strategy. In Kenya, we believe that our capacity to compete in the global market greatly depends on the ability of our people to innovate and apply the relevant technology for growth and development. This discussion and the selected theme of 'Embracing Capacity Building Opportunities in the Digital Era' could not have been more relevant.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Kenya has put innovation at the centre of its development strategy primarily through socio-economic blueprints as well as legislation. The Kenya Vision 2030 has anchored ICT as the catalyst for achievement of socio-economic development. Indeed, education is identified as means through which ICT skills are developed and nurtured, thus creating a vital human resource to drive the national agenda. This is reinforced with the efforts to boost Research and Development that forms the very core of innovation.
While ICT creates pressure for changes in education, it also provides the means for that very change. As society experiences the "digitisation of everything," learning methods and models change thus offering educators and learners alike, new digital tools such as virtual classrooms, personalised instruction, adaptive curriculum, and blended learning.
Ladies and Gentlemen, you will all agree with me that it is only natural that students should learn about the digital devices and systems they rely on, on a daily basis. This is the way to make them gain further knowledge and understanding which is necessary to propel the growth of technology and innovation. I note that with greater accessibility to affordable broadband internet, the learners stand to benefit immensely through efficient communication, collaboration with their colleagues and access to diverse digital learning resources.
We acknowledge that in Kenya, much has been achieved in terms of access to education, but we also note that we have a lot more to do, particularly with regard to the quality and range of educational opportunities. For this reason, the government is harnessing the potential offered by ICT to address this challenge.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the government has embarked on one of the most ambitious digital initiative that I think is one of the most innovative in the history of our country – the Digital Literacy Programme (DLP). The programme targets to deliver over 1.2 million digital learning devices to all Standard One learners in over 22,000 public primary schools in the country. This programme aims to socialise our learners to digital learning and introduce them to 21st century skills at an early age.
It is only noted that without adequate capacity building of our teachers, the desired educational impact cannot be achieved. In this regard over 70,000 teachers have so far been trained on ICT basic literacy with many more to follow. All schools have been redesigned and revamped to meet the minimum standards for digital learning. Among the key infrastructure undertaking in the schools, as a prerequisite, was the power connection to all the public primary schools, which has also transformed the households who live near the schools, as they also benefitted from the connection.
We are equally determined and focused as a country to promoting and creating economic opportunities as well as enhancing research and development through establishing the local assembly of digital devices spearheaded by our Universities. This is just a glimpse of the local scenario, which points to the potential that lies in boosting capacity as a step to help cope with the demand of the labour market.
There is need for greater collaboration between the education and ICT sector, and between government, academia and the private sector as well as other stakeholders to close the existing skill gaps. Universities and tertiary institutions in particular, should adapt to the needs of the sector, with due consideration for the fast pace of change.
I thank you for your attention.