The 2021 Policy on ICT in Education and Training includes several definitions related to technology and education. Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is defined as any “communication device or application, encompassing radio, television, cellular phones, computer and network hardware and software, satellite systems, among others as well as the various services and applications associated with them, such as video conferencing and distance learning”. ‘ICT integration in education’ is defined as “the seamless incorporation of information and communication technologies to support and enhance the attainment of curriculum objectives, to enhance the appropriate competencies including skills, knowledge, attitudes and values, and to manage education effectively and efficiently at all levels”, while ‘inclusive ICT education’ is defined as “teaching, learning and training that utilises ICT tools and strategies to enable all learners to participate actively in regular learning and training setups, regardless of their diverse abilities”.
Assistive Technology is defined as “devices for people with disabilities while also including the process used in selecting, locating and using them”, while Open Educational Resources (OERs) are defined as “educational materials that are in public domain or introduced with an open license. The nature of these open materials means that anyone can legally and freely copy, use, adapt and re-share them”.
The policy also includes definitions for ‘blended learning’, ‘e-learning’, ‘remote learning’, and ‘virtual learning’, the definitions of which are provided below.
Blended Learning: A mode of learning delivered via electronic and online media as well as traditional face to face teaching.
E-Learning: Is when the learners and the instructor interact with each other in real time, from different locations and can complete selfpaced online learning asynchronously.
Remote Learning: Is where the student and the educator, or information source, are not physically present in a traditional classroom environment.
Virtual Learning: A learning environment with a set of teaching and learning tools designed to enhance a learner’s experience by including computers and the internet in the learning and training processes.
The 2013 Basic Education Act also defines ‘ICT Integration and Education’ as “the seamless incorporation of information communication technologies to support and enhance the attainment of curriculum objectives, to enhance the appropriate competencies including skills, knowledge, attitudes and values and to manage education effectively and efficiently at all levels.
The term ‘EdTech’ is not used in government documents.
Constitution and laws: Kenya has a supportive legal framework for the integration of ICT in education.
While the 1998 ICT Act makes no reference to education institutions, it establishes the Universal Service Fund (Article 84j), with the purpose to support widespread access, support capacity building and promote innovation in ICT services. The 2010 Kenya Information and Communications (Universal Access and Service) Regulations include internet access as part of their definition of universal services (Article 2).
the 2013 Science, Technology and Innovation Act mandates the National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI) to regulate and assure quality in the science and technology sector, providing for the promotion of research, innovation and entrepreneurship in order to meet the ICT needs of learners and trainees. Specifically, NACOSTI is given the responsibility for advising on science education and innovation at both basic and advanced levels (Article 6), while science and technology and innovation are encouraged at general education levels (Article 10).
The 2013 Basic Education Act provides a framework that promotes utilisation of ICT in the management of educational institutions, promoting the development, management and governance of education through ICT Integration and Education Management Information System (EMIS) and statutory structural adjustment (Section 95). The Act also includes distance or correspondence instruction within its definition of a ‘school’.
The 2010 Constitution of Kenya recognises the role of science and indigenous technologies in the development of the nation (Article 11), additionally promoting the development of communication formats and technologies accessible to persons with disabilities (Article 7).
The 2012 Universities Act recognises Open Distance and e-Learning (ODeL) as a mode of education, promoting the provision of inclusive blended, open, distance and e-learning.
Policies, plans and strategies: Kenya has a strong policy and strategy framework for the integration of ICT in its education system, with the government committed to utilising ICTs to provide quality, relevant and accessible education and training to its citizens.
The 2021 Policy on ICT in Education and Training provides a national framework to institutionalise the use of ICT in learning, training and management of education and training, seeking to harmonise the implementation of ICT integration in education and training. The mission of the policy is to “integrate ICT in education, training and research for improved learning outcomes through a digitally enabled education system”. Objectives include to (i) Promote an inclusive enabling environment for ICT in education, training and management; (ii) Enhance curriculum development, implementation, assessment and quality assurance through ICT; (iii) Promote acquisition of relevant skills that support ICT integration in education and training; (iv) Promote research and innovation through ICT; (v) To enhance safe, secure and ethical use of ICT; (vi) To empower parents and communities to support the use of ICT in education and training; (vii) Enhance resource mobilisation to support ICT in education and training; (viii) and Provide a framework for governance and co-ordination of ICT initiatives in education and training. The policy applies to all pre-primary, primary and secondary schools, ACE, TVET, teacher training colleges, technical training colleges, universities and SAGAs within the Ministry of Education. It also applies to education stakeholders in the national and county governments as well as, state and non-state actors, parents, local communities and partners in ICT in education and training.
The previous 2006 National ICT Strategy for Education and Training outlined how ICTs will be adopted and utilized to improve access, quality and equity in the delivery of education services in Kenya. The Strategy is based on the vision that: “ICTs is a universal tool in education and training”, with a mission “to integrate ICTs in education and training to improve access, learning and administration.”
The 2019 National ICT Policy recognises the need for institutions to partner in the areas of research and innovation and universal access within an inclusive setting, with specific education objectives to integrate ICT subjects in the curriculum at all levels of education, develop and deploy a nationwide e-Education system through distance education and virtual institutions, and expand and improve adult-education, lifelong learning and both general and digital literacy programmes for retraining and reskilling the existing workforce. The policy’s mission to is “facilitate universal access to ICT infrastructure and services all over the country”.
On 7 August 2020, the Kenyan government published the 2020 National ICT Policy Guidelines in the Kenya Gazette, which aim to facilitate universal access to ICT infrastructure and services across the country. The guidelines include provisions for universal access to internet services and for every Kenyan to be able to afford a device that they can use to access to the internet (with no explicit connection to schools).
The 2018-22 National Education Sector Strategic Plan (NESSP) envisions a solid technology base through ICT to be reflected within the curriculum at all levels, its delivery and the system support mechanisms. The plan provides for the integration of ICT in education, training and research management, teaching and learning at all education levels.
The Ministry of Education’s 2019 Sessional Paper (No. 1) on Reforming Education and Training for Sustainable Development in Kenya calls for integration of ICT in education, training and research; and management, teaching and learning at all levels. It underscores the utilisation of ICT in transforming education and highlights the challenges of access, quality, relevance and equity that the education system faces. The paper also articulates the need for inclusion in acquisition of ICT infrastructure, capacity building, security and management of ICTs and adaptation of digital content for learners and trainees with special needs. This policy provides strategies for access to ICTs, capacity development, safety, security and ethical issues, among others, in order to ensure a transformed education system.
The Kenya Vision 2030 emphasises science, technology and innovation as the key levers to drive the country into the middle-income economy, highlighting the role of education and training in producing a highly skilled human resource that can transform the Kenyan society to a knowledge-based economy. One of the strategies to realise this long-term development agenda is to embrace ICT in education and training.
The 2019 Digital Economy Blueprint emphasises on digital skills and values that promote the vision of a digitally empowered citizenry. This policy is aligned to the National ICT policy and creates a framework for the realisation of a globally competitive digital economy.
The 2022-32 National Digital Master Plan includes several education-specific objectives, such as enhancing ICT infrastructure in schools, teacher ICT capacity building, and promotion of digital learning resources.
The previous 2014-18 National ICT Master Plan similarly highlighted the need to collaborate with relevant policy makers and regulators to integrate ICT in education and training at all levels, indicating that one of the most effective and efficient methods of developing the ICT workforce are to integrate ICT in the curriculum for schools, colleges and universities for non-ICT subjects.
The 2018-23 National Broadband Strategy aims to transform Kenya into a globally competitive knowledge-based society enabled by affordable, secure and fast broadband connectivity, with specific objectives in increasing digital literacy and connectivity in schools.
The 2020 National Skills Development Policy further promotes STEM subjects.
Digital competency frameworks: The 2017 Basic Education Curriculum Framework emphasises development of skills and knowledge and application of competencies to real life situations of which digital literacy is a core competency. The 7 Core Competencies for Basic Education that form part of the Competency Based Education and Training Policy Framework represent competencies students should develop across all academic subject areas in order to become engaged, empowered and ethical citizens and thrive in the 21st century. Digital literacy is defined as “having the knowledge, skills and behaviours which are necessary to effectively and safely use a wide range of digital content and devices”. The government additionally adheres to the 2016 Kenya ICT Competency Framework for Teachers.
Changes occurred as a result of COVID-19: Following the COVID-19 outbreak, several policy and strategy documents were published that enhance the integration of ICT and blended learning in the education system, including the 2021 Policy on ICT in Education and Training and 2022-32 National Digital Master Plan. The government also published the 2022 Industry Guidelines for Child Online Protection and Safety in Kenya.
2.2.1. Technology infrastructure and digital capacity of schools
One of the objectives of the 2021 Policy on ICT in Education and Training is to provide comprehensive and systematic ICT infrastructure across all levels of education and training.
Electricity: The 2021 Policy on ICT in Education and Training aims to ensure access to reliable sources of power to educational institutions to enhance usage of ICT. This includes engaging relevant agencies to provide power in learning institutions, engaging relevant agencies to provide subsidised rates of electricity in learning institutions, sensitising members in learning institutions on power use and conservation, identifying and using innovative sustainable sources of power in learning institutions, and monitoring power utilisation in learning institutions. The 2018-22 National Education Sector Strategic Plan and 2018-23 National Broadband Strategy similarly support the provision of critical services (including electricity) to schools.
Computers and devices: The 2021 Policy on ICT in Education and Training supports the acquisition of quality, relevant and adequate ICTs across all levels of education. Specific objectives include the promotion of access to appropriate computing devices to learners and trainees across all levels, development of local ICT in education solutions, making appropriate software more affordable through the production of cost-effective ICT devices that allow for high bandwidth and low power consumption, and facilitating the provision of assistive and adapted technologies for learners and trainees with disabilities. To achieve these objectives, the government aims to develop minimum ICT equipment standard guidelines for all levels and negotiate for budgetary allocation and subsidies for ICT facilities across all levels. The policy also encourages the “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) concept, aiming to review policies and regulations that prohibit use of personal portable computing devices in institutions of learning and develop regulations on the use of personal portable computing devices in institutions of learning.
The 2022-32 National Digital Master Plan further expands the Digital Literacy Programme (Laptop Project), which distributed 1.2 million devices (including wireless routers) to 22,891 public primary schools. The plan supports the provision of laptops for upper primary under the School Laptop project. Similar objectives are set in the 2018-23 National Broadband Strategy, which aims to provide devices for secondary schools and increase devices at primary schools, with approximately 1.2 million laptops and tablets distributed to schools as part of the School ICT devices project.
In 2019, the Kenyan government suspended its One Laptop per Child program, choosing instead to build computer laboratories per school for ICT integration.
Internet connectivity: The provision of internet connectivity in schools is supported in several government policy and strategy documents. The 2021 Policy on ICT in Education and Training supports the provision of affordable Internet connectivity to all educational institutions, aiming to provide access to broadband connectivity and cloud technology to learners, trainees and education providers in all areas of the country. Specific objectives include developing guidelines for engaging Internet Service Providers and partners, engaging local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to provide subsidised internet connectivity, negotiating with relevant MDAs to facilitate the provision of affordable internet to educational institutions, and incentivising internet connection to educational institutions. The 2019 National ICT Policy similarly supports the provision of free public Wi-Fi Internet access built around digital primary and secondary schools, while the 2022-32 National Digital Master Plan aims to install 100,000km of high-speed fiber optic infrastructure to provide internet to all schools, government institutions/offices, Metro-cities, health facilities, rural businesses, homes and public spaces. The provision of internet connectivity in schools is additionally supported by the 2018-22 National Education Sector Strategic Plan and 2018-23 National Broadband Strategy.
2.2.2. Technology and learning environments
Distance learning has long been integrated into the Kenyan education system to increase access to education. The 2010 Policy Framework for Nomadic Education in Kenya (revised in 2015) and 2010 Getting to the hardest-to-reach: a strategy to provide education to nomadic communities in Kenya through distance learning strongly encouraged the use of open and distance learning facilities, like community radios, for the education of nomadic communities, following extensive consultations with different nomadic communities that identified radio as the most viable option to reach them.
Distance learning is also strongly supported across the education system in more recent policy documents. One of the policy objectives of the 2021 Policy on ICT in Education and Training is to promote the adoption of blended, remote, open, distance and e-learning approaches across all levels of education and training. To achieve this objective, the Ministry of Education in collaboration with relevant stakeholders will i) Establish structures for implementation of blended learning; (ii) Enhance adoption of blended, remote, open, distance and e-learning; and (iii) Adopt innovative approaches to ensure continued learning. The policy additionally supports the enhancement of existing remote learning opportunities for education and training through radio and TV broadcast. Distance learning is also supported in the 2018-22 National Education Sector Strategic Plan, 2018-23 National Broadband Strategy, and 2020 National ICT Policy Guidelines, which aim to promote e-learning at all education levels, including distance education and virtual institutions.
During the COVID-19 school closures, the 2020 Kenya Basic Education COVID-19 Emergency Plan aimed to provide learning continuity through the use of radios, TVs and online teaching and learning materials as well as extend the existing distance learning programmes. The strategy included options for Short Term, Mid Term and Long Term Emergency Responses.
According to the 2017 Basic Education Curriculum Framework, the government supports the development of student digital skills and so-called ‘21st Century skills’ through the implementation of the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) and Competency Based Education and Training (CBET), that emphasise the development of skills and knowledge and application of competencies to real life situations, of which digital literacy is a core competency. The 2021 Policy on ICT in Education and Training envisions for ICTs to be enablers in the acquisition of 21st Century skills in the implementation of the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) and Competency Based Education and Training (CBET). The 2018-23 National Broadband Strategy also aims to increase promote digital literacy, increasing digital literacy in schools to 85%. Similar objectives are set in the 2020 National ICT Policy Guidelines, which supports the integration of ICT subjects in the curriculum at all levels of education and expansion of digital literacy programs in schools.
The 2018-22 National Education Sector Strategic Plan similarly aims for ICT to be reflected within the curriculum at all education levels, highlighting the roll out of the competency-based curriculum (CBC) in the country and promotion of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in education and training. The plan additionally includes a provision on enhancing equity and inclusion in Science, Technology and Innovation, with detailed objectives to promote gender equality in STEM. Objectives specifically aim to develop a framework for identifying and recognising outstanding women and girl scientists; provide scholarships and bursaries for female learners and trainees pursuing STEM programmes and implement STEM mentorship programme for girls at all levels of education and training.
The 2021 Policy on ICT in Education and Training supports both pre-service and in-service teacher training in ICT. One of its policy objectives is to enhance the capacity of teachers, trainers, tutors and lecturers to facilitate use of ICT in teaching and learning across all levels. Strategies include (i) reviewing the teacher education curriculum to include use of ICT in curriculum implementation and assessment (ii) enhancing the capacity of in-service teachers, trainers, tutors and lecturers on the use of ICT in education and training; (iii) enhancing the capacity of teachers, trainers, tutors and lecturers on innovative pedagogical approaches and technologies; (iv) and establishing mechanisms for online professional development for education managers. Besides teachers, the policy aims to enhance the ICT capacity of policy makers, education managers, administrators of educational institutions, education officials, and ICT support personnel. The 2019-23 Teachers Service Commission Strategic Plan aims to integrate ICT in the teaching process, while the 2018-22 National Education Sector Strategic Plan similarly aims to build the capacity of secondary school teachers on effective use of ICT in teaching, learning, assessment and management, with an additional goal to train 9,000 teachers on adapted digital content and assistive technology.
The 2021 Policy on ICT in Education and Training promotes the security, safety and ethical use of ICTs in education and training, aiming to 1) enforce standards and guidelines on ICT security, safety, values and ethics in line with existing national and international policies and legal frameworks; 2) mainstream issues of ICT security, safety and ethics in the curriculum across all levels, 3) enhance partnerships, networks, linkages and collaboration mechanisms in ICT security, safety and ethics; 4) strengthen the capacity of ICT users in education and training on safe, secure and ethical use of data while enhancing national values.; and 5) establish mechanisms for vetting of digital learning resources to ensure security, safety and ethics in liaison with other relevant agencies in education and training. The latter objective includes strategies to develop procedures for vetting of digital learning resources to ensure security, safety and ethics, apply filters to ensure that only appropriate digital content is accessed by learners and educators, create awareness on use of parental controls for applications and digital content, submit digital content online to make vetting easier and ensure security, safety and ethics, and conduct peer review for digital learning resources at institutional level.
The 2014 Cybersecurity Strategy defines Kenya’s cybersecurity vision, key objectives, and ongoing commitment to support national priorities by encouraging ICT growth and aggressively protecting critical information infrastructures, with objectives to include cybersecurity in the education curricula.
2.4.1. Data privacy
The 2019 Data Protection Act provides for regulation of the processing of personal data, rights of data subjects, obligations of data controllers and processors and for connected purposes. The Act amends the 2013 Basic Education Act, adding in s.79 that the “Board shall deal with any relevant personal data collected and so held in the register according to the data principles set out in the Data Protection Act”. The Act additionally provides for the government to develop sector-specific guidelines in education (Article 74).
The 2021 Data Protection (General) Regulations provides under the ‘requirement for specified processing data to be done in Kenya’ (Article 25) for the management of personal data to facilitate access of primary and secondary education in the country.
The 2021 Policy on ICT in Education and Training aims to enhance safe, secure and ethical use and management of data collected and generated while using ICTs in education and training. Strategies to achieve this objective include (a) creating awareness on safe, secure and ethical use of data, (b) sensitizing stakeholders on existing legislation on information security, (c) liaising with relevant MDAs to enforce existing legislation on information security, (d) reviewing existing ICT security measures regularly, (e) undertaking risk management to inform decision making in governance and management of ICT in education and training. and (f) reinforcing security of ICT in education resources.
The 2020 National ICT Policy Guidelines aim for “Kenya data to remain in Kenya” and for it to be stored safely in a manner that protects its citizens.
2.4.2. Online abuse and cyberbullying
Pursuant to the 2010 Information and Communications (Consumer Protection) Regulations (Sections 4,9, 21), the Communications Authority of Kenya published the 2022 Industry Guidelines for Child Online Protection and Safety in Kenya which aim to provide safeguards for children’s access to and use of ICT services in Kenya. The guidelines explicitly apply to schools, which “shall adhere to these guidelines and the obligations herein”. This includes protection against cyberbullying, online child abuse, and the development of default privacy settings for collection, processing, storage, sale and publishing of personal data.
The 2018 Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act provide for offences relating to computer systems; to enable timely and effective detection, prohibition, prevention, response, investigation and prosecution of computer and cybercrimes; and to facilitate international cooperation in dealing with computer and cybercrime matters. The 2021 Policy on ICT in Education and Training promotes adherence to policies and regulations on appropriate content and cybercrimes for educational institutions, while the 2022-32 National Digital Master Plan supports the development and implementation of a fair and safe internet usage policy for school net to support digital learning.
The 2020 National ICT Policy Guidelines state that the government is responsible for ensuring that there are rules, structures, principles and policies to ensure that children can use the internet and computers safely, with provisions for child online protection and privacy and the development of a mechanism to equip relevant stakeholders with appropriate information and skills to respond adequately to child online abuse and exploitation.
The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology oversees the implementation of the 2021 Policy on ICT in Education and Training and is responsible for the integration of ICT in the education system. One of the Ministry’s functions is to “promote mainstreaming and application of ICT in learning and training in the Education system”, with an overall mission to “provide, promote and coordinate quality education, training and research; and enhance integration of Science, Technology and Innovation into national production systems for sustainable development”. There is no specific ICT department under the Ministry. Connectivity in schools is achieved through collaboration between the MoEST, the Kenya Education Network (KENET), and the private sector.
The Ministry of Information, Communications and the Digital Economy develops and coordinates the implementation of the national ICT policy and strategy through the Directorate of ICT Shared Services, with a mission to facilitate universal access to ICT infrastructure and services across the country.
The ICT Authority has a broad mandate to foster the development of ICTs in Kenya (including capacity building), oversee the development of ICT projects, and formulate ICT standards. The ICT Authority is responsible for the Digital Literacy Program under the Project Management Office. This includes supplying and installing devices to learners and teachers, ensuring ICT education content is available, ensuring schools are connected to the national grid (electricity or solar) to enable charging of devices, ensuring broadband connectivity in schools, ensuring teachers are adequately trained in ICT, and working with the Ministries of Education and Interior to ensure safety of devices in schools.
The Communications Authority of Kenya is the regulator of ICT in the country.
The National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation is responsible for regulating and ensuring quality assurance in science, technology and innovation sector and advice government in related matters.
The 2021 Policy on ICT in Education and Training also establishes the following committees to oversee the implementation of the policy. The National Steering Committee provides leadership and oversight in the implementation process and co-ordinates resource mobilisation for the implementation of this policy. The Inter-Agency Technical Implementation Committee is responsible for implementing, monitoring and reporting on ICT in education and training policy activities; reporting annually on implementation of the ICT in education and training policy to the national steering committee; and making recommendations to the national steering committee on issues related to the ICT in education and training policy. The policy additionally establishes ICT Integration in Education and Training Units, County ICT in Education and Training Implementation Committees, and Institutional ICT in Education and Training Committees.
For the efficient management and delivery of education services, some responsibilities of education and training have also been decentralized to county offices, which are responsible for the administration of education management information system and the related ICT at the county level.
Kenya has a ban on mobile device use in schools since 2008, although the 2021 Policy on ICT in Education and Training encourages the “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) concept, aiming to review policies and regulations that prohibit use of personal portable computing devices in institutions of learning and develop regulations on the use of personal portable computing devices in institutions of learning.