By Moses Ndungu
Online education has become one of the of the most popular higher education alternatives. The continuously improving reputation of online learning has also helped fuel its expansion. Many people now opt for online study due to other commitments.
James Mwai, a youth residing in Sipili town in Laikipia County had always wanted to undertake an online study but he never got an opportunity to pursue one. In 2013, he was at Ng’arua Maarifa Centre in Ol-Moran Ward accessing the internet when the field officer informed him about a model of education referred to as ALISON.
He learned that it was possible to undertake the course at the Maarifa Centre without incurring any cost. After researching about the institution, he learned that since its launch in April 2007, it has developed relationships with some of the largest and most prestigious institutions involved in promoting education and learning. The institution also enjoys a global reputation for delivering quality education and training online.
He decided to sign up for Diploma in Business Management and Entrepreneurship. He also signed up for Diploma in Carpentry. The online studies have been made possible with the believe that all certifiable or standards-based learning for every subject can be made available free online.
|Mwai accessing information at the Maarifa Centre|
ALISON’s mission is to enable anyone, anywhere, to educate themselves for free via interactive multimedia courseware for certification and standards-based learning. It is believed that through ALISON, the cost of access to high-quality education can be removed, thereby creating a more equitable and sustainable global society.
“When I cleared high school I did not see any hope for higher education due to financial constraints at home. The online study provided me with an avenue to further my education. I am not only able to use free internet at the Maarifa for long duration when studying but the Maarifa staff usually even print for me my course work,” said Mwai.
Mwai noted that using the ALISON online platform dashboard is easy. Through the dashboard, a student is able to see the number of course undertaken, the cumulative points attained, and the average percentage of the covered coursework.
He has so far covered 79.6 percent of the course work and attained 29 points in Business Management and Entrepreneurship. He has also covered 60 percent of the course work in Diploma in Carpentry and attained 19 points.
He noted that in the event a student of ALISON has received the Certificate of merit prior to completion of the studies, the Kenya National Examinations council (KNEC) could also equalize such certificates with Kenya Certification System.
“It is my hope that by the end of this year, I will receive my two Diploma certificates. I have not only learned that online study is possible but I am a testament of that,” said Mwai.
Established in 2007 by the Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN), the Maarifa Centre has been offering free services that include; Library services, E-government services, multimedia content, internet access, citizen journalism training, ICT training, advisory services, publications like Baobab, Joto Afrika, and Laikipia Mali Asili, as well as Sokopepe.
ALIN realized that many rural communities lack the skills to tap into the potential Information and Communication Technology (ICT) field hence it has focused in the development of ICT resources at the Maarifa Centre. This empowers people to use technology to promote community development and bring services such as e-learning closer to the people.