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Top 10 Lessons From ICT4E Projects in Kenya

By Guest Writer on June 18, 2014


My name is Jakub Šimek and I work as the Program Manager for the Pontis Foundation, which is located in Slovakia. Last year we started to scale up our third ICT4E project in Kenya from five to ten secondary schools. Back in 2010, the Pontis Foundation launched with one primary and one secondary pilot school in Taita -Taveta County financed by SlovakAid. Our first focus was merely ICT integration, but now besides computer skills and ICT Clubs, our top priority is Business Studies improvement through student practice companies.  We cooperate with a range of partners – Practice Enterprise Network based in Germany, Slovak and Kenyan ministries of education, Slovak schools, and our amazing Kenyan implementing partners – Kasigau Wildlife Trust.

What were the practical lessons we learned throughout our ICT4E projects in Kenya?

  1. Instead of one expensive piece of equipment, donate at least two cheaper pieces of important equipment per school – cameras, projectors, etc.
  2. Motivate your school leaders to give honest feedback – if a camera breaks they should report it immediately without worry instead of waiting for several months.
  3. It is not enough to work with ICT teachers: their position is not stable and influence is limited. Head masters are travelling a lot. The most vital person to win for the project is the deputy headmaster. Once you have a good and motivated deputy, your risk is quite possibly cut in half.
  4. Blackouts and a slow Internet in rural areas is a big problem. Sometimes you need to give incentives to teachers to travel to bigger towns so they can upload student videos and finish other tasks.
  5. Use volunteers from the recipient country that can spend weeks at each school and learn about its day-to-day life.
  6. Give students exposure to computers outside of “normal” lessons – ICT clubs, student companies, and scientific competitions would all be beneficial.
  7. Make teachers comfortable – not everyone needs to gain the same skills. For some it is enough to know how to move through the PowerPoint presentation that was created by a colleague.
  8. Develop and improve your MEL – we use Google Docs surveys for students and teachers but had two methodological problems in the past. Now we look for more robust ways to evaluate and improve our projects using volunteers and outside experts.
  9. We need to be more aggressive in pursuing gender balance and equal participation of students and teachers.
  10. We started small but later didn’t reach the media exposure that we deserved because we underestimated the investment in PR. We were not so successful both in the Indiegogo campaign and in diversifying our funding through fundraising from foreign institutional donors. We still depend on SlovakAid for 90% of our expenditures.

Through our experience we’ve concluded that, as ICT4E practitioners, we should dream BIG for our future projects. Effective ICT4E projects are no easy feat, but with the help of local leadership and capacity, we can help make a positive difference for long-term success.

Jakub Šimek is the current Program Manager at Pontis Foundation.

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3 Comments to “Top 10 Lessons From ICT4E Projects in Kenya”

  1. j deurwaarder says:

    some more background info would be helpfull.
    what are the objectives of the project? how does the project integrate with kenya’s country ICT policy? have the set objectives been attained?
    Your observations of needing more media exposure and nearly completely depending on donations worries me. Projects to be sustainable are to fit into a country / school policy I personally feel.

  2. Sam Lanfranco says:

    The underlying message of the lessons learned centers in part on treating everyone involved as a stakeholder and a partner, and not simply as a recipient client or assistant in the execution of the project. Outside expertise is important but it needs to be partnered with local expertise to mobilize the right knowledge for the local context. M&E is as much about asking the right questions as it is evaluating what is measured.

  3. We have introduced Multimedia Classrooms in all secondary and primary schools of Bangladesh. Please see the link: http://www.a2i.pmo.gov.bd/content/multimedia-class-room