There are many well-known challenges in global education systems, and the Kenyan system has its fair share of challenges as well. From public under-spending, legacy pedagogy, accessibility challenges, poverty to low teacher capacity and politics, the Kenyan education system has been criticized for not being able to support the present social, economic and developmental needs of the people. This systemic failure is even further highlighted in the current dynamic age of information technology innovation, where new tools have been developed that have the potential to scale and deepen education in ways never possible before. Information technology has caused a shift in expectations and abilities among learners, as they are now able to direct their own learning outside the formal classroom. This has raised questions about the role of teachers and culture of learning. The public now expects that internet technology will be made accessible to learners so that Kenyans will not be ‘left behind’.
There exists a good number of people working on projects at schools and other created learning spaces to build and test systems and methods that work for communities. What would happen if these people put their heads together to learn from each other, share resources and create a common vision for education systems in Kenya? An experimental collective called The 10 Consortium has been meeting regularly for the past few months to do exactly that: share, learn and build a common vision. Members of the group run diverse projects focusing on areas such as IT skills in rural areas, life skills, open learning for teens, volunteer teaching to support short-staffed schools, community libraries and creative skills. These projects are all run by passionate and committed individuals mostly working in their spare time and with whatever resources available to them. They’ve been at it for years, with amazing results and models that are scalable. They aren’t necessarily trained educationists, but are interested in experimenting with technology and learning models to find what works in their communities.
What if these projects had the resources and capacity to scale? What if these innovators and others connected to form a strong network? What would happen if the results and lessons from this network were shared with the wider education community? Innovation is happening in the Kenyan education space, and it is coming from untraditional spaces i.e. outside the mainstream education sphere. But what’s missing is a discourse on systems, vision and values – essentially the blocks that would form the basis of the education systems we want.