Official opening by the Ministry of Education

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Frances Ferreira - Education Specialist
Dr. Wayne Mackintosh – Symposium Consultant
CEO, Kenya National Examinations Council
Director, Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development
Participants from other Commonwealth States
MOE Directorates Representatives
Collaborators from Non Formal Education
Ladies and Gentlemen

Margaret Murage delivering the official opening address on behalf of the Education Secretary for the Ministry of Education.
I am delighted to have been invited to open this very important symposium on Open Education Resources. A forum like this one provides opportunity to examine the various strategies utilized across the global divide in meeting agreed on targets in education, training and research. I note that the participants in this forum have varied knowledges and skills required for the 21st Century technological approaches and innovations in all facets of development.

As we are all aware, education is critical in the modern approaches to development which requires critical thinking. Educational change is paramount in propelling the various Visions that call for competitiveness for greater socio-economic achievements.

Ladies and Gentlemen

It is now acknowledged that information and Communication Technology (ICT) transforms significant challenges of access, quality, relevance and equity faced by all nations world wide as we strive to ensure that the populace lives quality lives. At the same time, no economy can today survive without proper investment in ICT. Areas such as banking, communications, tourism, and industry are almost totally dependent on ICT. Public services are increasingly dependent on reliable IT systems and on staff with suitable ICT skills and capacities. Human capacity has also to be developed and ICT training is vital.

Over the past decade these has been constant increase in development and use of Open Educational Resources (OER). Atkins, Brown and Hammond (2007) describe OER as teaching learning and research materials in any medium that reside in public domain and have been released under open license. This is also the view of UNESCO. At another level, Open Educational Resources (OER) provide a strategic opportunity in improving policy dialogue, knowledge sharing and capacity building on issues of international peace, celebration of cultural, ethnic and racial diversities and educate us on globalization.

OERS can include full courses, programmes course materials, modules, student guides, teaching notes, textbooks, research articles, videos and instruments, interactive materials such as simulations and role plays, databases, software applications and any other educationally useful materials.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dynamic knowledge creation and social computing tools and processes are becoming more widespread and accepted. This has opened up opportunities to create and share a wider array of educational resources, therefore, accommodating student needs. Information communication technologies (ICTs) have dramatically increased the transfer of networks leading to an explosion in generation and collaborative sharing of knowledge.

Most countries have incorporated ICT and E-learning where learning takes place with the assistance of digital technology. The use of ICTs (radio, television, computers, and mobile phones) together with online learning tools and digital materials are necessary for e-learning to take place. Materials thus developed can be used, re-used and revised and made freely available online.

As the learner population continues rising at various levels of education and training, E-learning becomes a vital mode of learning and teaching the Ministry of Education Science and Technology Kenya positioned itself to meet ICT demands in education through policy documents and regulations at the Basic, Tertiary and University levels such as:

  • Sessional Paper No.14 of 2013 on Reforming Education Training Sectors in Kenya;
  • Basic Education Act, 2013 legitimizes ICT integration in education at the basic level of education;
  • The Universities Act

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Countries have committed large amounts of money towards procurement of computers and accessories for institutions for both schools and colleges. In Kenya, we have established institutional structures within the sector for ICT integration, such as: The ICT4E Unit in the Department of Education which handles ICT integration in education; The Centre for ICT Innovation and Integration which handles technological issues in ICT including ICT specifications; Connectivity of ICT equipment and Internet in departments and sections to ensure that education and training staff are computer literate;

The Ministry, together with the Teachers Service Commission have also trained teachers at the school and college levels in ICT literacy skills.

We also recognize the importance of awarding the reliant Digital content to meet millennium development goals and Kenya’s vision 2030. The Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) has developed well researched digital content at the basic level of education.

Our institutions of higher learning have already adapted the use of free and open course software. Plans to establish the Open University of Kenya are at an advanced stage. Ladies and Gentlemen,

Digitization of information, combined with its increasingly wide spread dissemination poses significant challenges to concepts of intellectual property. To this regard open licenses have emerged in effort to protect authors’ rights in an environment where content can easily be plagiarized.

In tandem with the recommendations forwarded at the UNESCO Congress of 2012 on how to improve Open Learning, the Member States are bound to undertake the following steps:

  • Promote awareness and use of OER to widen access to all levels in both the formal and non-formal sectors;
  • Facilitate enabling environment for use of ICTS by developing adequate infrastructure;
  • Support capacity building for sustainable development;
  • Reinforce the development of strategies and policies on OER;
  • Foster strategic alliances for OER by taking advantage of evolving technology;
  • Encourage the development and adaptation of OER using a variety of languages, cultural contexts and user friendly tools;
  • Encourage research on OER to foster development, use, evaluation and re-contextualization of OER;
  • Encourage the open licensing of educational materials produced with public funds.

There is also the need to address the threats to the morals of the user, that come with the explosion of information through the internet. I am sure we all strive to raise a youth who have values that can move nations to the next level.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Government will continue to provide an environment that lays emphasis on importance of free content to meet the needs of users of education materials. The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology is therefore, grateful to the Commonwealth of Learning for hosting the symposium in Nairobi. We shall strive to turn these opportunities into education realities. We look forward to a stronger partnership with all the Member States in an effort to promote Open Education Resources as we place ourselves on a competitive edge on the global niche market.

In conclusion, I wish to encourage the participants gathered here to make Kenya a country of choice either for academic purposes or tourism. I invite you to sample our institutions of Higher Learning to become a candidate there or for intellectual activity. Kenya has a wide variety of indigenous cultures and a serene atmosphere for recreation in the various Tourist Circuits. At this juncture, Ladies and Gentlemen I declare the workshop officially opened.

Thank you.