Over the years, specific strides have been made in order to ensure that all children in all parts of the country have access to quality education. This includes free education and revision of the school curriculum to ensure that students acquire the right set of skills and education. Quality Education (SDG4) is among the 17 Sustainable Development goals that describe how people can work together to ensure prosperity for all. Some of the major issues in Kenya regarding quality education include;
- Skills mismatch whereby students spend almost two decades in school but find themselves lacking adequate technical skills and knowledge that allow them to contribute to the country’s development.
- The inclusion of children with disabilities. Systems are yet to be put in place to ensure that handicapped children have access to quality education.
- The inclusion of children in pastoral communities-Most children living in nomadic or pastoral communities still lack access to well-trained teachers.
- Lack of communication technology to make learning easier and to keep students up to date with changing markets.
Safaricom Foundation hopes to expand access to education through innovative solutions and partnerships. They have partnered with Computer for Schools to provide various schools and institutions with ICT infrastructure. Due to free primary education, there is a high enrollment of students in schools. So often about 100 students are facilitated by only one teacher. The program provides students with remedial classes so they can catch up. 55 free radios were distributed to 195 schools in 36 districts around the country. With radios provided to the students, they are able to receive the Kenya Institute of Education educational programs aired on KBC and other educational media series. Together, they have also trained thousands of teachers to equip them with the necessary skills.
Safaricom Foundation also funds programs such as the Instant Network Schools (INS). The program helps students in East African Refugee Camps receive a quality education. Their classrooms are turned into digital learning hubs. Each class is provided with 25 tablets, a laptop, projector, speaker free internet connectivity, WIFI and localized mobile content. They also conduct continuous teacher training programs to ensure the teachers are equipped with the right set of skills. The program is set to reach up to 3 million refugees by 2020. During the year, the program has benefited more than 43,000 students living in 14 refugee camps such as Dadaab, Kakuma, Goma and Nyarugusa.
The 47 in 1 project is also another initiative ran by Safaricom. It is a program aimed at providing computer labs to at least one primary school in every county. These labs are meant to increase digital learning environments. Each lab constructed comes with ac preinstalled learning software. 17 labs have already been rolled out into different parts of the country so far. The goal is to provide 20 more by 2019.
Safaricom Foundation’s main goal in providing quality education is to expand technological innovation in the educational sector. They created a platform called Shupavu 291. It is a platform that provides lessons and quizzes to primary and high school students. It also allows them to search for information and access Wikipedia without having an internet connection.
Additionally, the platform includes an ‘Ask a teacher’ feature that allows students to seek assistance from a qualified teacher remotely. Since the platform was launched, records show that 60 million questions have been exchanged. Shupavu 291 also provides the teachers with the opportunity to check individual student performance and school performance through SMS. A study ran on the platform showed that users of the program score 22.7% higher than an average student their standard. So far, more than 2,800,000 students are registered on the platform. For remote assistance, there are over 40,000 teachers currently registered on the platform too. Students can register to the platform by dialling *291#.
One of the most recent projects for the MPESA Foundation was building and opening the MPESA Foundation Academy. It is a state of the art school build to integrate technological innovation into the students learning the program. The school admits gifted but economically challenged students from all over the country. It has a capacity of 900 students but currently homes 500. They admit up to 10 students per county with a gender ratio of 1:1 to ensure that every student gets a chance to learn. Once in the school, each student is given a tablet and their classes are fitted with an Apple TV for learning purposes.
Parents do not have to worry about paying school fees as the students join the school all on free sponsorship. The school makes it a point to redefine how subjects are taught in school by focusing on equipping these students with skills to help them later in life other than just to pass examinations. They are also taught money management as every student has an ATM and bank account where they store money they make from their own startups. This is to encourage students to think outside the box at a young age and use their skills to grow. Additionally, once done with high school, every student will receive full sponsorship to go to any university of their choice either locally or internationally.