The 10 consortium

How Do We Build the Education Systems We Want?

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.

What’s the Big Picture in Kenyan Film?

For the past decade or so, there has been a renaissance of the film industry in Kenya. Evidence of this is in the increased number of films and production houses, not forgetting the emergence of an alternative ‘industrial model’ of film production and distribution that is known as Riverwood.  The government has also set up the Kenya Film Commission to implement policies that will enable growth of the industry.

With internet penetration increasing by the day and a clear trend towards mobile being the king of consumer media devices in Africa, the future seems bright for the Kenyan film industry in terms of market access. Already, investments such as Buni TV are being made into this foray.

So far, industry players have identified that the Riverwood model works, that Kenyans are hungry for locally-produced content and that there is enough local talent for a vibrant industry. Financing is also available, though this still needs some cultivating. However, policy is still at its infancy, with stakeholders not yet engaging as closely as they should in order to build comprehensive policy. Aside from the Kenya Film Commission, the ICT Authority and Ministry of sports, culture and the arts  have also worked with film-makers on separate projects as part of the process of creating a national strategy for the creative industry  although this was not exclusively focused on film but also looked into other sub-sectors of the creative economy.

One of the missing links in the film policy-making process is the absence of aggregate information about the industry as a whole. Aggregate information is a key element of making good policy because it sheds light on the big picture instead of relying solely on stakeholders’ specialised perspectives. Information that I think would be interesting to have about the Kenyan film industry is:

  • Market information: consumer tastes purchasing trends and other consumer insight
  • Production information: cost of production, supply chain, bottlenecks
  • Talent: number of actors, directors, producers, camera operators, editors etc. and the level of skill for each of the talent groups, including the skill gaps (this would be useful when developing training programmes)
  • Marketing and distribution: distribution processes, challenges

With such information, stakeholders would be able to make informed policy that would be more likely to succeed.

Big picture perspective (By NASA Goddard Space Flight Center from Greenbelt, MD, USA (Hubble Watches Star Clusters on a Collision Course) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)