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Kenya: 90 schools to get internet connection under Digital Literacy Programme

Africa/Kenya/20-08-2021/Author and Source: www.kbc.co.ke

Nokia, Safaricom, UNICEF, the Ministry of Education and Ministry of ICT have announced a joint initiative that will connect at least 90 schools with high speed internet.

Under the Digital Leraning Programme, the initiative aims to ‘connect the unconnected’, with the ultimate goal of supporting the Kenyan Government’s plans to scale broadband connection to all schools by 2030.

“As part of our Transforming Lives purpose and vision to become a purpose-led technology company, we are always looking for partnerships that allow us to use our services to deliver social impact in areas aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals. Our shared value partnership with UNICEF and Nokia allows us to connect schools in underprivileged areas and increase access to digital literacy. This will ensure that the students there are not left behind when it comes to reaping the benefits of an ever-increasing digital society,” said Peter Ndegwa, CEO of Safaricom.

The connected schools are spread across rural and informal urban settlements in Kenya, serving an estimated 32,670 students.

Schools are using Nokia’s FastMile 4G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) broadband solution to provide reliable, high-speed connectivity delivered over Safaricom’s 4G/LTE network. Nokia’s meshed WiFi Beacon technology is used to boost the Internet signal in selected classrooms and computer labs.

“An important belief that we hold at Nokia is the need to provide ‘broadband for all’. With remote learning becoming the prevailing issue during the Covid-19 pandemic, the topic of digital equity takes center stage again, so we are excited that this collaboration will facilitate access to many students currently unconnected. This is an initiative we are very proud to be a part of and hope that it is a significant step to a brighter future for all those reaping its benefits,” said Amr K. El Leithy, Nokia Senior Vice-president for Middle East and Africa Market.

The importance of good connectivity has been highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic. School closures in Kenya in 2020 meant that children had to stay at home for six to nine months, leaving them reliant on remote learning.

The digital divide meant that students who could access the internet were better placed to continue with their learning.

“Children have a right to access quality education wherever they are, yet for too long, the digital divide has prevented disadvantaged children from enjoying the same benefits as their connected peers. By connecting schools to the Internet – with a focus on the most disadvantaged areas – we can start to level the playing field. This allows students and teachers to gain digital skills and access the latest education materials, providing a brighter future for some of the most vulnerable children in Kenya,” added Maniza, UNICEF Kenya Country Representative.

Schools equipped with a broadband connection, digital devices and teacher training will now be able to make better use of video communication, digital curricula and online content, thereby improving digital literacy and skills among school children.

Source and Image: https://www.kbc.co.ke/90-schools-to-get-internet-connection-under-digital-literacy-programme/

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Kenya: KICD denies over supplying schools with text books

Africa/Kenya/13-08-2021/Author: ANTONY GITONGA/Source: www.kbc.co.ke

The Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) has denied claims that it authorized the oversupply of textbooks in public schools across the country.

The institute has attributed the move to the mass transfer of students from one school to the other due to Covid-19 that saw parents lose jobs and relocate to their rural homes.

In the last couple of months, headteachers and leaders have cried foul over the continuous dumping of unwanted books in the schools by printers.

Some schools have been forced to buy plastic water tanks to store the books with their stores already filled up.

But according to KICD Director Professor Charles Omondo, the flooding had affected a few schools after learners were transferred at the height of the pandemic.

“A few schools that were affected by the transfers had problems with the books supply but we are reviewing this problem,” he said.

Omondo at the same time denied that set books were being changed every year noting that KICD had evaluated all the books needed by schools.

“We have given teachers the books that have met the threshold and they are supposed to pick one per subject while the others can be used by the teachers for reference,” he said.

Addressing the press in Central Primary school in Naivasha, the director added that they are visiting schools to ensure grade five pupils have received learning materials.

He said that plans for the transition from 8-4-4 to Competence-Based Curriculum (CBC) system were in place with the government moving in to build in more classes.

KICD has further disassociated itself from a long list of books being demanded by some private schools

Earlier, Gilgil Mp Martha Wangari had raised an alert over the possible loss of millions of shillings in procurement of textbooks for public schools.

According to the Mp, schools were oversupplied with hundreds of books that they did not need as part of the capitation fees that went to pay the printers.

“It’s time that we allowed teachers to procure the books that they need and we should put a threshold on the amount used to buy the books,” she said.

She added that tens of schools in the country had been oversupplied with books that they did not require while set books were being changed every year.

“When parliament resumes we shall summon the CS for Education to clarify on this issue where printers are dumping unwanted books in schools,” she said.

Source and Image: https://www.kbc.co.ke/kicd-denies-over-supplying-schools-with-unwanted-text-books/

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COVID-19: Education replaced by shuttered schools, violence, teenage pregnancy. World

World/06-08-2021/Author and Source: news.un.org

A culture of “safety, friends and food” at school has been replaced by “anxiety, violence, and teenage pregnancy”, with remote learning out of reach for millions, the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, said on Tuesday.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, “more than 600 million children in countries not on academic break are still affected by school closures”, James Elder, UNICEF spokesperson at a press conference at UN Geneva.

In countries such as Uganda, this has led to a “20 per cent spike in the last 15 months in teen pregnancies, or pregnancies of 10-24-year-old girls, who were seeking antenatal care. Across the globe in all continents we’ve seen child helplines, a good precursor to understanding kids who are reporting violence, seeing often triple-digit increases,” said Elder.

COVID-19 school closures

In nearly half of countries in Asia and the Pacific, schools have been closed for around 200 days. Latin America and the Caribbean have seen some of the longest closures ever with 18 countries and territories affected by either full or partial closures.

As of today, the UN agency estimates in Eastern and Southern Africa that 40 per cent of all children aged 5 to 18, are currently out of school.

Elder added that if these figures “did not resonate with those in power, then a World Bank report estimates a loss of $10 trillion in earnings over time”, for this generation of students.

Remote learning ‘out of reach’

A teenage student studies at home during the COVID-19 lockdown in Uganda.
© UNICEF/Francis Emorut
A teenage student studies at home during the COVID-19 lockdown in Uganda.

Equally alarming is the fact that the solution of remote learning is “simply out of reach” for at least a third of the world’s schoolchildren, the UNICEF spokesperson continued. In East Asia and the Pacific, “80 million children have no access whatsoever to any remote learning.

In Eastern and Southern Africa, Uganda school children have gone more than 300 days out of school, while home internet connectivity “is the lowest on the planet there at about 0.3%”.

‘Situation cannot go on’

In a call for action, UNICEF appealed for five main steps: Schools should reopen as soon as possible; governments and donors must protect the education budget; enrolment should be extended to children who were already out of school pre‑COVID‑19 – by removing financial barriers and loosening registration requirements – and cash transfers to the most vulnerable, must be increased.

“Everything needs to be done to bring an end to the pandemic,” Mr. Elder said, starting with making vaccines available everywhere by sharing excess doses and financing to support the roll-out of vaccines.

Source and Image: https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/07/1096502

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Kenya: 99 students, 4 teachers at Muruku school, Laikipia contract Covid

99 students and four teachers at Muruku secondary school in Laikipia County have tested positive for Covid-19.

The number is the highest to be recorded in a learning institution in Kenya.

According to Laikipia county Chief officer of health Dr Donald Moghoi, the cases were confirmed from 264 samples tested at the school last Friday after a number of students started showing coronavirus related symptoms.

Those affected have since been quarantined at the institution under the care of Ministry of Health officials.

Of the 99 cases, 40 are male while 59 are female. Dr Moghoi said all of the 17 teachers who were tested, three are female and one male who are currently receiving treatment at Ol jabet and Benedict Catholic hospitals in Nyahururu respectively.

Learning for other students at the institution is still going on. Most schools are administering third term exams and are set to close this Friday, according to the school calendar issued by the Ministry of Education.

Since the pandemic struck the country last year, several schools have been affected, with some being closed indefinitely as others put their students, teachers and workers under quarantine.

Kenya continues to record more COVID-19 positive cases in recent weeks, with experts warning of a looming fourth wave.

But the ministry of education insists that children are safe in schools and that learning will go uninterrupted.

Covid cases

As of Monday, June 12, the country’s caseload stood at  188,942 after 188 new cases were reported.

The positivity rate is now 8.0% while cumulative tests so far conducted are 2,018,013.

Source and Image: https://www.kbc.co.ke/99-students-4-teachers-at-muruku-school-laikipia-contract-covid/

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Some racial awareness in the classroom could actually be a good thing – but arguing ‘maths is racist’ isn’t going to get us there

By: David Matthews

The woke Left say we must teach kids that everything from maths to history is steeped in ‘white privilege’. The reactionary Right say this is indoctrination with no place in the classroom. But the reality is somewhere in between.

Back in the dark days of 1970s British state education, the bedrock of my primary school instruction was known, alliteratively, as “the three R’s”, aka “reading, writing and arithmetic”. The concept taught oiks like me the basics, namely barely enough language and mathematical skills to stumble into a world of skilled, semi-skilled and occasionally white-collar drudgery.

Education, for my generation, was far from “woke”. The daily grind of school was about equipping pupils with an understanding of core and vocational subjects, which included the now outmoded woodwork and metalwork (how to be a man and bring home the bacon) and home economics (how to be a good little housewife and put the tea on). The implicit aim of state education was to prepare us proles for the long march toward the building site, factory floor or clerks’ office, with a byproduct being maybe you’d be smart enough in later years to hold a conversation with a prospective spouse and thus get married and “settle down”.

And that was about it.

Jump to secondary school in the eighties and there was enough 1984Animal Farm and The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists type “cultural Marxism” on the curriculum to give the left-wing socks-and-sandals brigade a sense they were creating a “proto-woke” working class – which was something of a British socialist fantasy back then. Today, however, with the unions lacking charismatic leadership, the Labour Party lacking any sort of leadership, and increasing numbers of Britain’s proletariat busily doffing their caps to clown prince of Downing St Boris Johnson, the left has all but given up on class struggle as a vote-winner, preferring instead to focus its blurry attention on climate change, gender politics and other issues far too abstract for the man on the Clapham omnibus.

So it comes as no surprise that the latest diktat on “white privilege” coming from woke educators isn’t designed to improve declining school standards or improve the lot of the great unwashed, but to promote a new form of three R’s: “righteousness, reparations and racism”.

Or at least this is what right-wing grifters will have you believe.

According to the Telegraph, the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education (NATRE) claims it wants to introduce lessons for 8-11-year-olds that teach the “key concept” of white privilege while also getting primary school teachers to face up to their own unconscious bias in the classroom, as unrequited prejudices “can make it hard for some to identify systemic racism”. 

The NATRE learning materials obtained by the Telegraph are also said to contain “key ideas” that include “put-downs and jokes as microaggressions that can ‘reinforce white power’”, adding: “It’s important to engage with the idea that racism is a problem for white people, rather than for black people.”

The document also nails Christianity for “sugar coating” the “shameful stain” of its involvement in the transatlantic slave trade, helpfully informing teachers that “the complicity of Christians in the enslavement of millions is an untold story”.

Predictably, religious detractors and right-wing mouthpieces, from the former Bishop of Rochester Dr Michael Nazir-Ali to Spectator columnist and free-speech warrior Toby Young, have been far from turning the other cheek for what they see as a blasphemous blend of anti-white, anti-British propagandising of the school curriculum.

Nazir-Ali dismissed NATRE’s notion of white privilege, pointing out the factoid that “white working class boys are at the bottom of the pile” while Young rubbished it with the canard, “Britain is one of the least racist countries in the world”.

But if you actually think about what NATRE is proposing as classroom aids for professional teachers as a way of helping them to create stimulating lesson plans that help youngsters to navigate complex social issues, what’s the problem? What are 8-11-year-olds to make of watching EURO 2020 and seeing players take the knee, and get booed for their troubles? Or catch yet another BLM demonstration on the news? Or listen to their parents chuntering on behind their copies of the Sun and, er, the Telegraph about immigration – for the nth time that day?

As a father of three, I run the gamut of daily interrogation about what’s going on in the world. Children are curious, inquisitive and a lot smarter than we give them credit for. Teaching them about former glories or an imperialist past is all well and good; no one is suggesting that they shouldn’t learn about the Romans, the Vikings, the Normans and everyone else who’s conquered the British Isles. Or Shakespeare. Or Isambard Kingdom Brunel. But there’s lots of other stuff that’s been conveniently airbrushed from the curriculum, an act that has been far more detrimental to the education of millions of ordinary kids than introducing a little “racial awareness” here and there. Wrapping kids up in cotton wool and shutting them off from the real world does them no favours. Children soon pick up on contested ideas, such as white working class boys are rubbish or Britain is a racial Disneyland – from in the home, the media and the street – so why not give them some well-thought out context in the classroom?

What reactionaries often claim is classroom propaganda is in fact pedagogy. And they know it. Teaching styles, practice, content, knowledge transfer and delivery must change with the times. However, the right loves nothing more than victim-signalling contested ideas such as “white privilege” as though they’re part of a Marxist brainwashing programme designed to corrupt our youth when more often than not they’re classroom talking points designed to bring more children into the educational mix, not shut down discussion.

Personally, I can’t stand the notion of white supremacy or white privilege. Both convey notions of superiority that flatter rather than undermine their intended targets. Which is why introducing ideas such as “white privilege”, “white supremacy” and the politics of Black Lives Matter into the classroom, left-wing educators run the risk of letting propaganda, psychobabble and anti-Eurocentrism (usually of the dead-white-male variety) get in the way of genuine progressive thinking.

Take the recent brouhaha over “maths is racist” for instance. Educators in California (where else) had debated whether to apply the politics of social justice to teaching mathematics across the state to K-12, or kindergarten to 12th grade students, as a means of eradicating “white supremacy” from the subject. In turn, this would eliminate special classes for gifted students and thus create an idealistic equal academic playing field – presumably by dragging everyone down rather than raising everyone up.

Critics rounded on the proposal, citing the history of maths as a melting pot of cultural ideas and, given its theoretical objectivity, argued that this bedrock of scientific thought is inherently anti-racist by its very definition.

“It is absurd to accuse mathematics of being ‘racist,’” said William Happer, a professor of physics emeritus at Princeton University. “We use Indian numerals that come to us through the Arabs. There are still lots of distinguished mathematicians in India who speak the same worldwide mathematical language as mathematicians in North America, Europe, the Arab world, India, China, Japan, Africa, South America, etc. Greek geometry, much of it borrowed from Egypt and Mesopotamia, is still one of the most sublime human achievements.”

Officials eventually blocked the inclusion of a document on “dismantling racism in mathematics instruction,” which argued, bizarrely, against “upholding the idea that there are always right and wrong answers”. However, ahead of the next round of consultations this summer, classes for gifted students remain doubtful. Educators are still against streaming maths classes by ability or achievement calling for an end to “gifted and talented” programmes because they are “inequitable”.

As whacky as it sounds, the idea that maths, and by extension science as a whole, “is racist” isn’t new, at least in America.

In 2017, Professor Rochelle Gutierrez from the University of Illinois claimed that teaching maths perpetuates “unearned” white privilege, and urged her colleagues to appreciate the “politics that mathematics brings”. Writing in Building Support for Scholarly Practices in Mathematics Methods, Gutierrez argues that the Pythagorean theorem and pi reinforce white supremacy by showing that maths was developed by the Greeks and Europeans.

“On many levels, mathematics itself operates as Whiteness. Who gets credit for doing and developing mathematics, who is capable in mathematics, and who is seen as part of the mathematical community is generally viewed as white,” Gutierrez writes.

In 2019, Seattle Public Schools released a draft of new learning objectives that integrated “ethnic studies” into mathematics, as well as other subjects, raising questions such as, “Where does Power and Oppression show up in our math experiences?” and “How is math manipulated to allow inequality and oppression to persist?

Other states, including Vermont, Oregon and of course California, have also produced K-12 learning materials that promote the classroom experiences of people of colour. Seattle and California, however, have calculated further that rethinking existing courses so that they’re now taught through an anti-racist lens is progress, rather than part of a woketard, BLM, cultural-Marxism conspiracy, which is how reactionaries predictably read it.

The progressive view is that introducing an ethnic lens to traditionally tough subjects such as maths makes them more “inclusive” and thus appealing to students who often see such disciplines as “white”, not least because better-off white parents can hothouse their kids through tough subjects such as maths and the sciences. While maths is “objective” in a “one plus one equals two” sense, many argue that the way it’s taught, the resources given to it and the cultural expectations or unconscious biases that pervade education systems are subjective. The same, of course, can be argued about education and gender. If this wasn’t the case boys would still be learning woodwork and metalwork and girls would still be learning home economics. Change doesn’t happen on its own.

2016 Stanford University report, which examined ethnic-studies classes in San Francisco high schools, found that attendance increased by 21% and GPA (grade point average) increased by 1.4 grade points with significant effects on GPA specific to math and science; boys and Hispanic students improved the most.

“When students can see themselves in curriculum and see diversity in curriculum, they respond better,” Wayne Au, a professor at the University of Washington Bothell, told the Seattle Times. Au has helped lead Seattle’s ethnic-studies initiative. “And, it can help white students understand themselves better. Structural racism in the country has mistaught white people about themselves – that they don’t have culture, that they don’t have roots.”

In his book, Is Science Racist? Jonathan Marks, Professor of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, argues that the eugenic science of the early twentieth century and the commodified genomic science of today are unified by the mistaken belief that human races are naturalistic categories. Yet their boundaries are founded neither in biology nor in genetics and, not being a formal scientific concept, race is largely not accessible to the scientist.”

In other words, race can only be grasped through the humanities – historically, experientially, politically – so conflating race with hard science is as problematic for woke educators as it is for the eugenic morons who think the colour of someone’s skin influences their intellect or educational ability.

One has to wonder what Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, NASA’s African-American ‘Hidden Figures’ women, would make of this latest educational ‘race war’. After all, they grew up in an era of segregated education. No doubt they’d think something doesn’t quite add up when it comes to equating maths and other subjects as “racist”. But I bet they’d still want to sit down and work out the problem.

Source and Image: https://www.rt.com/op-ed/526859-maths-racist-racial-awareness-classroom/

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Kenya: Form one students to report on August 2nd 2021

Africa/Kenya/18-06-2021/Author: Muraya Kamunde/Source: www.kbc.co.ke

Candidates who sat for their Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams 2020 will join Form One on August 2nd, 2021.

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha disclosed the new dates Tuesday as he launched the Form One 2021 selection exercise at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD).

During the launch, Education CS George Magoha said that a total of 585,942 girls compared to 585,323 boys joining Form one.

“We have 17,406 girls and 18,848 joining national schools this year,” he said.

“We have strictly applied the principles of equity, fairness, merit, transparency, inclusiveness and affirmative action in the form one selection and that is why the placement has taken longer,” he added.

The Education CS also noted that 53,000 KCPE 2020 candidates applied for the Elimu Scholarship Programme under the Education Ministry.

National schools have admitted 17,406 girls and boys 18, 848 summing up to 36,254.

The extra county schools have admitted girls 95,646 and boys 105,431 and the total is 201,077. County schools have taken 115,325 girls and 98,266 boys and the total 213,591.

Students who scored 400 marks and above were placed in National and extra county schools of their choice.

“Special needs candidates were also placed in regular schools of their preference. We have opened up opportunities for children from slums,” said CS Magoha.

Source and Image: https://www.kbc.co.ke/form-one-students-to-report-on-august-2nd-2021/

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Uganda closes schools as Covid cases rise

Africa/Uganda/11-06-2021/Author and Source: www.kbc.co.ke

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has shut down schools and suspended public gatherings as the country faces a surge of infections in a second Covid-19 wave.

Public transport between districts will be banned starting Thursday to allow students who are in schools to return home.

Bars, cinemas and theatres have also been closed.

The suspension of schools and gatherings takes effect from Monday and will be in place for 42 days.

Dozens of schools had reported virus cases among staff and students prompting the closure.

The announcement came hours after the health ministry announced 1,259 new coronavirus cases – the highest number of infections recorded in a single day – and nine deaths on Sunday.

A rise in coronavirus cases was reported two weeks ago and officials mulled over a lockdown to prevent health facilities from being overwhelmed.

The national referral hospital Mulago reported a spike in Covid-19 patients last week, saying it needed to increase bed capacity.

Uganda has 52,929 cases of coronavirus and 374 deaths so far.

By BBC News

Source and Image: https://www.kbc.co.ke/uganda-closes-schools-as-covid-cases-rise/

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