Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has become an important part of most organizations and businesses these days. Computers began to be placed in schools in the early 1980s, and several research has revealed that ICT will be an important part of education for the next generation too (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000). Further Dawes (2001) is of the view that technologies have potential to support education a cross the curriculum providing opportunities for communication between teachers and students in ways that have not been possible before. In addition Wagner et al (2005) note that "ICTs are currently being used widely to aid education in many developing countries, and it appears that there is increasing demand for their use in education by policymakers and parents in developing countries…" This is evident in Kenya where parents both in private and public schools work hard to ensure that they provide computers to their schools. Further ICT in education has the potential to be influential in bringing about changes in ways of teaching. Many studies have been conducted to investigate the role of ICT in educational reforms (Yusuf & Yusuf, 2009).
However, successful implementation of ICT requires strategic planning. As Wagner et al (2005) observes, "Research suggests that simply putting computers into schools is not enough to impact student learning. That said, specific applications of ICT can positively impact student knowledge, skills and attitudes, as well as teaching practices, school innovation, and community services". This has been a trend in most schools in Kenya particularly those in the rural areas where computer labs have been built and computers procured but hardly do the use them. This is attributed to the fact that teachers lack skills to integrate ICT into classroom teaching.
The introduction of ICT in the Kenyan education system would call for a redefinition of the role of teachers. With ICT, teachers can no longer be "the transmitters of knowledge" but rather "the facilitators" of the learning process. Tinio (2009) notes that "As learning shifts from the "teacher-centered model" to a "learner-centered model", the teacher becomes less the sole voice of authority and more the facilitator, mentor and coach from "sage on stage" to "guide on the side". The teacher’s primary task becomes to teach the students how to ask questions and pose problems, formulate hypotheses, locate information and then critically assess the information found in relation to the problems posed". This may be easier said than done because of the nature of culturally-specific traditions that have characterized teaching and learning practices for years in the Kenya. In Kenya Teachers often view their role as "provider of knowledge" and regard students as empty vessels to be filled. Clearly, classroom practices that simply embellish traditional modes of direct instruction with ICT tools have been repeatedly labeled as ineffective (LeBaron and McDonough, 2009). ICT must hence be fully integrated into the curriculum. Lin (2008) cited by LeBaron and McDonough (2009) describes the integration of ICT across the curriculum as critical to learning how technology is productively applied in real-life situations. A holistic transformation in teaching perspective is thus expected from a teacher-centered strategy of instruction toward student-centeredness. This is achievable but can be hard in the context of lack of basic school supplies and facilities (textbooks, chairs, computers, and so forth).
ICT integration in schools could be simply viewed as the use of computers in the teaching and learning process. This view would clearly misjudge the complex nature of the integration procedure itself. By integrating, we understand combining parts together, so that they work together to make a whole. The ‘parts to be combined’ include the school context in which integration is to take place, the technologies provided, the technical skills of teachers, the technical support provided for the installation, maintenance and upgrading of hardware and software, the pedagogical preferences and skills of teachers, the availability of appropriate electronic resources and finally, the skills and motivation of students. However, integration has always been taken to mean to teach students basic computer skills in Kenya. In addition, ICT Integration could be seen as a whole configuration of events, activities, contents, and interpersonal processes taking place in the context in which ICT is used.
However, the right conditions need to be in place before the educational benefits of ICT can be fully harnessed, and a systematic approach is required when integrating ICTs into the education system. This fact is often overlooked, and in their eagerness to jump onto the technology bandwagon, many education systems end up with technologies that are either unsuitable for their needs or cannot be used optimally due to the lack of adequately trained personnel (Ng, Miao, &Lee, 2009).
The vision of the Government of Kenya is to facilitate ICT as a universal tool for education and training. Further The Ministry of Educations (MOE) mission is to facilitate effective use of ICT to improve access, learning and administration in delivery education programmes and services. The principal objective will be to integrate ICT in the delivery of education and training curricula. The major challenge in respect to this component is limited digital equipment at virtually all levels of education. While the average access rate is one computer to 15 students in most of the developed countries, the access rate in Kenya is approximately one computer to 150 students (EMIS, 2005).Although not exhaustive, the range of ICT that have been used in the delivery of education to improve access, teaching, learning, and administration includes: Electric Board, Audio Cassette, Radio for Interactive Radio Instructions (IRI), Video/TV-Learning, Computer, Integrated ICT infrastructure and Support Application Systems (SAS).These systems are in use, at various degrees, in most parts of Africa (Charp, 1998). This plan envisages use of these digital components to improve access and quality in the delivery of education in Kenya. In order to achieve this vision and mission every educational institution, teacher, learner and the respective community should be equipped with appropriate ICT infrastructure, competencies and policies for usage and progress. It calls for recognition of the fact that ICT provides capabilities and skills needed for a knowledge-based economy. It also calls for transforming teaching and learning to incorporate new pedagogies that are appropriate for the 21st century effective implementation of ICT in education.
Therefore for it to be possible teachers need to be empowered to enable them intergrate ICT into their classroom teaching. Several models and frameworks have been formulated to provide a better understanding of the ICT integration process, to evaluate the positive effects of technology on learning, or to investigate the kind of enhanced learning environment that technology provides in the classroom. Pelgrum (2003) identified five key dimensions that should be addressed when considering ICT Integration in education. These comprise the curriculum, the ICT Infrastructure, the staff development and support, the organisational change and leadership, and the National educational policies and ICT implementation strategies. According to the Sessional Paper No. 1 of 2005 and the KESSP document, outlined introduction of information and communication technologies (ICT) educational priorities, their integration into education and the associated financial investments, which has also resulted in the need to monitor these developments, using reliable and valid indicators. It is believed that the use of ICT in education can increase access to learning opportunities. But, lack of reliable, quality data, in addition to the absence of standardized guidelines for establishing relevant and comparable indicators, hinder policymakers in making informed decisions or in demonstrating greater commitment to integrating ICT into education systems.
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is a principal driver of economic development and social change worldwide. Nevertheless, technology alone can only be an enabler, not driver of development. Further, use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in developing countries is seen as an effective way to improve the population’s life and well-being. In particular, ICT applications on the education system might change the future of the underdeveloped world fundamentally through the connections to ‘the flat world’ (Friedman2005). However, there are some challenges which the developing world faces in its efforts to adopt ICT in the education sector. These challenges are limitations related to cost, internet access, trained staff and adequate policy. This paper discusses the use of ICTs in education in Elgeiyo Marakwet County. The paper highlights problems Kenya might face when integrating ICT into ECD classrooms.