Lingering Questions

This year two weeks ago I hosted a team of Teachers Without Borders Canada -Educators from North America .For four weeks, we had pedagogy and ICT integration workshops at the Suba centre in Mbita, Gilgil and Naivasha. Of course we had lots of challenges with technology. Poor/inadequate infrastructure, low e-awareness and an almost discouraging lack of e-competency by teachers, quite much unlike in the urban areas. However, ‘teachnology’-my new coined word for teacher innovation in class situation, prevailed. The team settled first in whipping the teacher’s interest by inspiring them, focusing on new learning strategies .I strongly think that our guests at TWB-C employed constructivism which as yet is an alien concept to Kenyan teachers, me included. Nonetheless, I was elated at the enthusiasm the teachers had in learning by doing and even more, the scope at which different learning strategies was employed.

Teachers attending the workshop quickly internalized the fact of knowledge consisting learning about the real world out there. Through practical demonstrable processes, they enjoyed helping organizing information in the most rational way possible .This when presented to the learner, through a series of activities based on hands-on learning and opportunities to experiment, then learning outcomes would be fulfilling. Some teachers experiencing this concept first hand, exclaimed at how albeit unknowingly, they have been ‘burying’ the learners in bottomless abyss of ignorance by stifling innovation!

Our system of public education is still pretty much teacher centered and relies in age old 'rote learning-memory and recall'- a banking system of education of sorts. I have never known a bunch of excited teachers all my life after the 50 who attended the workshops learnt about rubrics. My immediate concern is how to sustain the process and getting Key Resource Teachers out of the lot as mentors to the rest. We will need to brainstorm on a sustainable model even as we think of working with the Ministry of Education on a broader approach to upscale this project to involve more teachers.

Core to this project would be the need to understand the importance of e-competency, promote the acquisition of ICT skills, and promote a constant update of such competences and also to promote a professional use or application the e-skills (e-literacy?). My heart is burdened with the realization that there is need for e-Inclusion for majority of teachers in the rural and underserved regions .We need to quickly de-elitize the use of ICT in education, especially integration of the same in Teaching and learning.

Teachers need not learn how to use computers in order to get a promotion or acquire a better paying good job. Such a project would need to keep a tab on uniformity and consistency in delivering workshops, provision of ICT infrastructure as incentive to ensure constant updating, while at the same time working hard not to reduce teaching to ICT usage per se as much as creating an information overload on the teachers. In this uphill task, I call upon all who are passionate in Closing the Education Divide one Teacher at a Time to devote ourselves to. Your support is our strength!

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