Teachers and students drawn from three East African Community (EAC) member states – Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania – as well Ethiopia, Ghana and Nigeria, are set to benefit from a $ 2 million ICT training initiative.
The two-year pilot project, to be funded by Microsoft and British Council (each contributing $ 1 million), will see 90 teachers drawn from the six countries being trained in leadership skills, ICT innovation and integration in teaching and learning.
The, project, called Africa Digital Schools Project or “Badiliko”, (Swahili for ‘change’), brings together software vendor and the British Council, the UK’s government’s international organization in charge of educational opportunities and cultural relations.
It is part of a global partnership between the British Council and Microsoft, will enable the selected educators (mainly school heads and teachers with ICT-related skills) undergo training on course modules structured to equip them with skills that can later be passed onto other teachers.
The teachers will be taken through modules such as managing change, leading effective teaching and learning, ICT skills development, international dimensions and technology as well as innovative teaching and learning. Joe Lemaron, British Council’s Badilika regional manager said that the training began in Nairobi on January 23 with a 4-day training session of 90 educators and school leaders from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia.
“The two organizations will over the next two years each invest $ 1 million in cash, plus staff and in-kind resources to build 80 digital hubs across 6 Sub Saharan countries. By June this year, our aim is to train about 20,000 teachers,” said Lemaron, adding that the project aims to provide over 100,000 learners access to ICT skills and equipment thereby promoting digital literacy.
The digital hubs are to be used by the teachers and learners for training during the day and by the community after regular school hours for provision of e-government services, community skills training and as internet access points. Where a hub is situated off the electricity grid of a target country, it will be supported by solar power while internet connectivity would be provided via use of Wi-Fi.
Mark Matunga, Microsoft’s regional education manager for East and Southern Africa, said that the Badiliko project is aligned with the software vendor’s Partners in Learning programme started 8 years ago with a dedicated 5-year budget of $ 500 million, and which has since its launch reached an estimated 196 million teachers and students in 114 countries.
“Through Partners in Learning (PiL), Microsoft has trained over 20,000 Kenyan educators not only on basic ICT skills, but also on ICT integration in teaching and learning. We aim to transfer the experiences gained from PiL over the last 8 years to the Badiliko target countries,” said Matunga, adding that Microsoft has so far generated over 230,000 email accounts in Kenya and 45,000 email accounts in Uganda for public school teachers through PiL.
The Badiliko project, whose global launch was done in November 2011 in US, has so far trained a further 45 teachers drawn from Ghana. “This is about equipping people with the skills that will serve them throughout their lives: leadership, self-confidence, creativity, ambition, and a desire to connect and contribute to the wider world”, said Lemaron.