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m:lab By Sheilah Birgen / May 17, 2013

Understanding The edTech Ecosystem in Kenya – Wireless Wednesday Recap


It is time for an educational revolution from the current education system where students are meant to sit behind desks and work!” says David Kiania. Its time to move to the digital technologies such as computers, mobile devices, digital media creation and distribution tools, videos games  and social networking sites that will transform how we think about schooling and learning. According to Dr. Everlyne Makhanu, a lecturer from Strathmore University, we need to change our mindset and culture to embrace technology in learning and education practices.

M:lab East Africa hosted the first Wireless Wednesday on edTech on 15th May 2013 in conjunction with iHub. The meetup which is sponsored by Intel was themed: Understanding the edTech Ecosystem in Kenya. The meetup was attended by different stakeholders  in the edTech ecosystem i.e: students, teachers, phone manufacturers, entrepreneurs, mobile app developers and publishers among others.

Key stakeholders in the edTech ecosystem

The key stakeholders in the edtech ecosystem highlighted during the discussion include; Learners (kids and grownups), teachers, publishers, tech startups and developers, Ministry of Education and its parastatals including Kenya Institute of Education, Parents, School owners and the administration, device manufacturers, Telcos and ISPs among others.


Dr. Everlyne Makhanu a lecturer at Strathmore University sharing her views on edTech during Wireless Wednesday

Key observations noted during the discussion are;

Content - There was a long discussion around content, who is creating edtech content, is there a ready market for the content, how interactive is the content and is it relevant to the students/learners? It is a challenge to locally get digitized edtech content? Government policies, is one of the biggest limiting factor. Njeri Wangari from East Africa Publishers said that some publishers have tried digitizing their work but they face the challenge of generation gap, where the management view the whole digitizing process as a path that sooner or later will pass and people will go back to the manual textbooks. The second challenge is security that is the risk of piracy. The publishers and other content creators were challenged to first understand the end users and consumer preference before creating content.

Njeri Wangari from East Africa Publishers sharing on some of the challenges that publishers have faced while trying to digitize local content

Infrastructure - Limited access to infrastructure is a challenge in that some of the rural/remote areas have limited or no access to internet, mobile devices and computers. Developers who are targeting such areas have to keep that in mind while developing their apps, for example if your app needs users to get the content from the server then how do you deal with that?

Languages - Language is another key factor that developers should keep in mind while developing their app. Their apps should use language that is familiar to the students either English or Kiswahili. The apps should also  be as simple as possible to make it easy for the students who do not know how to use technology to use the apps.

Disconnect between developers, instructors and publishers - There is a big disconnect between developers, instructors and publishers. Developers are coming up with apps without talking to the people with the content, publishers are not willing to give out content to the developers and at the same time the publishers do not know the available technology to make the content  as interactive as possible. The developers were urged to talk to the teachers especially the ones from the rural/remote schools because they have fresh content as most of the teachers in the urban areas have been overused.

Content interactivity - Most of the content available is not interactive, there is a low level of interactivity in the content making it no different from the textbooks. This is mostly due to lack of knowledge of the available technology by the publishers and other content creators. Inclusion of animation, audio visual, videos and pictures makes its fun and interactive for the learners.

Teacher/student ratio: There was a discussion on the teacher/student ration, if their is the need to invest in more teachers. Most of the schools have a shortage in teachers in that one teacher has over 60 students making it hard to have a one on one with the students. Developers were challenged to come up with apps that can help such students revise hence put them in a benefiting position with students from schools that have enough teachers. There were mixed feeling on this issue, others feeling that investing in more teachers will not change a lot because the curriculum will remain the same nothing much will change.

Photos and video of the meetup are available on our social media.



Author : Sheilah Birgen

Sheilah, is the Community Lead at m:lab East Africa. Areas of major interest for her: Mobile, Startups and Learning. Mobile4Development, ICT4D enthusiast. Student of life.

  • Nathaniel Ndighila Mwakio at 16:16:37PM Saturday, May 18, 2013

    I commend you ihub for this great step.
    On Content;

    I see that there is a ready market for the Edtech when the targeted market is segmented as below;
    Public and Private Elementary schools.
    Public and Private Secondary schools.
    Institutions of higher learning (Public and Private colleges and Universities)

    While putting infrastructure, (Electricity and computer labs), into consideration, private primary schools, Secondary schools, and institutions of higher learning are a ready market for digitalized literature.

    To avoid the risk of piracy, the following can be incorporated;
    Have all publishers avail their information on one site.
    Get all schools and institutions of education to apply for membership at a subscription fee which can be renewable at a monthly, termly and in semester intervals.
    Access to the content will be limited to school and institution based education level.
    With the log in details provided for the school or institution, pupils and students can be provided for with individual access log in details based on admission numbers limited by class or Form level (for Primary & Secondary) , departments (for colleges & Polytechnics) and course of study(for Universities) one is undertaking.
    The content will need to be made read only for the whole educational institution but at an extra fee for a higher subscription level an individual user will have access to features that can enable them highlight text sections and with the website applications automatically create short hand notes for future reading. (This will apply most to Secondary and higher institutional levels)
    The saved notes will be available for reading through the members account only and can be made printable at a more advanced level of subscription at a cost.
    With this in place piracy will be mitigated as log in details will be closely monitored by the administrators of this website while content is still made available to pupils, students and teachers when teaching without compromise.

    To publishers and Website, their source of income will be through the subscription charges and level advancement top up fees where varying charges can also apply between different publishers on the cost of accessing their content.

  • Muthuri Kinyamu (@MuthuriKinyamu) at 11:12:19AM Monday, May 20, 2013

    Through lecturers and teachers can create, upload and share digital educational content-in various formats with students thus making learning more fun and enjoyable


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