Many Primary and Secondary schools do not allow students to own smartphones but this should change at least to allow them use some cool educational Apps like the newly launched ExamPoa. But you can’t blanketly blame the schools for banning smartphones, since when these young ones are allowed to have some freedom like have free access to smartphones, you really cannot control what they can do with them. You will never when know they’ll tweet a photo of badly dressed Chemistry teacher or worse still use Facebook or WhatsApp to connect with team mafisi.
We already know how they behave when given a little freedom; remember when they were caught in a bus smoking ganja alongside practicing kamasutra in broad daylight? Despite these, Oxford University Press East Africa (OUP EA) believes that they should be allowed to own smartphones, otherwise they could not have developed the ExamPoa App meant to aid the students revise for their KCPE and KCSE exams.
The ExamPoa App was unveiled yesterday by Oxford University Press East Africa after two years of development. ExamPoa was launched at a time the country is moving to advance education through multiple ICT platforms including the rollout of the laptops for class one pupils and digitization of the entire Primary School syllabus.
“The drive to make Kenya an ICT-enabled nation, and to drive forwards digital education, requires engaging content and first class educational materials on every kind of ICT platform, which has been a key factor in driving the development of this new tool,” said James Ogolla, Sales and Marketing Manager Director at OUP EA.
The Android-based ExamPoa app, which works on Android 4.2, is initially offering English and Science for the primary level, and English, History and Biology for the secondary level and is downloadable from the Safaricom App store.
“ExamPoa is a revision tool for pupils as they prepare for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE),” said Rosemary Kabura, marketing co-ordinator at Oxford University Press. “We are therefore targeting class seven and eight for primary level and forms three and four students in our first phase roll out.”
OUP EA has built ExampPa for phone use on the basis that it is currently the most accessible digital platform for students. According to a Digital Life Study, 2010, there has been a sharp shift in Internet use from personal computers to mobile phones, most markedly in Sub-Saharan Africa and Kenya. The shift is being propelled by the younger generation, particularly those in the 15-24 years age bracket.
This has seen UNESCO, in collaboration with private sector partners, conclude that the mobile phone will now be a fundamental way in which content will be provided to millions of readers, especially in the developing world, with mobile phones more easily accessible than any other mode of communication
At the same time, a report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OCED) on the impact of technology on students’ test results found no appreciable improvement in student achievement in reading, mathematics or science from students in countries that have provided computers in schools. The main reason for this was that computers were being used for plagiarism by students, in ‘cut and paste’ assignments.
However, research shows that interactive e-learning does improve students’ test results.
“Through the Exam Poa app, we offer users two broad download categories: quizzes accompanied by revision notes; and model examinations, all with a ‘game’ feel as the pupils work on different levels of difficulty, as well as competing with pupils from across the country by uploading their scores, just as they do with other kinds of games,” said Rosemary.
To get started, users download the ExamPoa app and can browse the content for free. They then download and pay for specific quizzes that can be completed online or offline.
The coverage of the app will next be extended to cover classes five and six in primary and forms one and two at the secondary level.
“In bringing the app to the market, we are looking to expand the reach in providing excellent learning and teaching materials using mobile phone technology. In addition, we are motivated to make revision fun and accessible to students, while raising the quality of education,” she said.
The ExamPoa app comes at a time when the government has set aside some Sh1.6bn to provide laptops for schools, which will see Kenya join countries such as Rwanda, which has successfully implanted one laptop per child into its school curriculum and is currently working on internet connectivity in order to see the program take full effect.
The app will further encourage pupils’ Internet use and also tap into the knowledge and skill set being offered to teachers who are currently undergoing formal government-funded ICT training.
Exampoa, first commissioned in July 2014, was last week demonstrated at the 8th Annual National Secondary School Student Leaders Conference at BOMAS of Kenya, attended by the education Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Fred Matiangi, who emphasised the importance of education and its power in moving Kenyan youth forwards.