The Economics of Education

11th Jul, 2019

Technology and the internet have dramatically revolutionalised many different fields. Education is one of the fields that has been impacted. The traditional classroom as we know it is slowly changing thanks to growing popularity of learning over the internet. This phenomenon is referred to by different names; Online education, e-Learning or virtual classroom. Simply put, this mode of learning utilizes electronic media to access lessons outside of a traditional classroom. Online classes allow students to take courses via the internet. The growing demand for education has led Kenya to embrace e-learning which is tipped to increase access to education.


Various institutions of higher learning are offering online degree to Master’s degree courses which are especially a hit with busy professionals who don’t have time to attend classes regularly. Some of these universities include the University of Nairobi, Strathmore University, Mount Kenya University, Egerton University, JKUAT and Daystar University. At Mount Kenya University, the Open, Distance and Electronic Learning (ODEL) programme comprises distance and institution-based learning. This means, the ODEL students go for residential sessions for two weeks but the rest of the time they learn remotely and only go to sit exams at allocated centers. However, Continuous Assessment Tests are done online, marked and returned to students. Mount Kenya University’s ODEL programme currently has a little over 5,000 students, both local and international. According to the ODEL Principal Pamela Ochieng, the virtual platform has enabled people to access knowledge from anywhere, irrespective of distance and time. It also allows students to learn at their own pace. The programme, she says, allows the working class to further their education.


“We have lecturers who provide tutorials online and a deals with technical issues as they arise, for example, if a student forgets their password. There is also the help desk for those who want to join and don’t know what to do,” says Pamela. However, as easy as the e-Learning platform seems, there are a few challenges hindering its progress. “First, we are not able to get all of our students online when needed mainly because of the nature of their work (some are in the police force). Secondly, we require the internet to function at all times but that’s not always the case,” she says. Universities and colleges are not the only one that have embraced e-Learning.


Some primary and secondary schools practice blended learning – combination of e-Learning and face to face learning. For instance, after admission, students at the M-PESA Foundation Academy, are provided with iPads with internet access to allow them access lesson materials, and carry out research. “A typical class would be a teacher with lessons loaded on to an iPad and projected through Apple TV. Every student has their own iPad. The teachers use the facility to deliver the lesson in an interesting way. We don’t have a teacher standing in front of the class reading out notes and students writing those notes down, but instead it’s much more collaborative,” said M-PESA Foundation Academy CEO Les Baillie in a past interview. There are also apps available for students to enable them access learning materials on their mobile phones. Shupavu 291, technical coordinator who  … Read More

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