AD376: Access to remote-education tools unequal in Kenya; radio best way to reach most

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Dispatches
2020
376
Thomas Isbell

As COVID-19 reached the shores of Africa, many governments reacted by shutting down much of economic, social, and public life in order to slow the spread of the disease. On 15 March, with only three confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country, the government of Kenya closed all schools and imposed curfews, among other measures. On 7 July, with more than 8,000 confirmed cases, the government announced that primary and secondary schools would remain closed until 2021 and teaching would be moved to non-contact platforms (BBC, 2020; News24, 2020).

While the government and the state-run Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development have made school programs available via radio, television, and the Internet, critics have pointed to access barriers for many of Kenya’s 17 million pupils (Daily Nation, 2020; Parsitau & Jepkemei, 2020).

Afrobarometer survey findings confirm substantial gaps in access to remote-learning technology in Kenya, especially for poor and rural households. While most Kenyans have mobile phones, only half can access the Internet that way, and computers are available in just one-fifth of households. Across socio-demographic groups, radio is the most widely accessible medium.