Learning doesn’t happen by magic. Rather, teachers must make important decisions to ensure learning, especially when integrating technology and media into a lesson. In the views of scholars, Smaldino, et al. (2014) learners in the 21st century need to be better educated to assume the challenges of continually evolving knowledge and skills requirements for the future. This is what Aga Khan Schools in Tanzania have been aiming for during the last 40 years of providing education.
The Aga Khan Schools are governed by the philosophy that today’s learning must prepare students for an unpredictable tomorrow, and thus lifelong learning is a cornerstone in helping students toward knowing how to approach the evolving knowledge and skills of their future. The Aga Khan Schools, including Aga Khan Nursery and Primary School (AKNPS) and Aga Khan Mzizima Secondary School (AKMSS), are champions in preparing students for a world revolutionized by the 4th Industrial Revolution. Pilar Quezzaire, Curriculum Manager for Educational Technology and Design at the IB, says: “Edtech serves schools that know their mission and pedagogy, and who strategize with technologies that aid and extend them both.” These schools are part of The Aga Khan Education Services (AKES) that operates more than 200 schools and educational programs in East Africa, South and Central Asia, and the Middle East. Each school aims to provide quality education that impacts a broad set of skills and knowledge and that develops independent and critical thinking abilities.
The Aga Khan Schools’ Curricula
The Aga Khan Nursery and Primary School offers Primary Year Programme for children aged 3 -12. The curriculum framework recognizes a child’s natural curiosity, creativity and ability to reflect. It engages students actively through inquiry based learning experiences that stimulates and challenges students’ thinking in order to develop understanding of concepts while valuing student agency thus fostering the growth of self-motivated lifelong learners.
Middle School Program
AKMSS offers the MSP to Grades 7-8. This is an interdisciplinary curriculum that focuses on building the necessary skills needed in upper- secondary school.
International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE)
Cambridge IGCSE course is offered for grades 9, 10 & 11, preparing students for International Baccalaureate (IB) or A-levels.
International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP)
AKMSS offers the International Baccalaureate Diploma for students in Years 12 & 13. The IB diploma program is a rigorous, pre-university course which is internationally recognized at universities world-wide.
National Examinations Council of Tanzania (NECTA)
AKMSS offers Tanzanian National O-levels for students in Forms 1 to 4 and A-levels for students in Forms 5 & 6. NECTA A-levels are an extremely challenging pre-university course.
How ICT is integrated in Teaching and Learning at Aga Khan Schools
The Aga Khan Schools in Dar es Salaam have been at the forefront of educational innovation since the 1980s. They were among the first schools to implement inquiry-based learning approaches and integrate technology into all aspects of school life. ICT provides an opportunity for learners at Aga Khan Schools to develop ideas both independently and together. Learners are exposed to technology through computer screens in libraries, the teachers resource centre (TRC), media rooms, music rooms, and ICT Labs, which are all connected to the internet 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
In addition, our classroom has high-tech projectors, desktop computers, laptops, smart phones, tablets, radios, and speakers, among other things. We believe that ICT tools and resources are critical components of student learning in an environment where inquiry is encouraged across grades, subjects, and timetables. Various Edu software, such as Ed-Admin, Edupage, SIS, Zoom, Ms. Office Apps, and others, are also available to the schools. All of this ensures that teaching, learning, and administrative functions run smoothly.
Our teachers have strengthened their ICT skills during the first and second waves of COVID-19 through e-learning platforms. As if nothing had happened, learning and teaching resumed remotely. Teachers successful organized and executed both core and extracurricular programs which in turn have increased students’ conceptual and contextual learning. Our students’ contextual understanding, research, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills have all improved as a result of online learning and interactive learning materials. However, with such advancements in technology, we ensure a balance between physical and Edtech learning. Like said by Bill Gates “Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is most important.”
How ICT is integrated in Extra-Curricular at Aga Khan Schools
Imagine youngsters sitting in class touring the Globe Theatre, experiencing the International Space Station, or meeting with a well-known author! Isn’t this incredible? Well, virtual field trips allow you to enjoy all of these experiences. Our students, for example, have been able to go around the world in just one sitting thanks to the virtual field trip. In this term, our students across the grades were taken on a virtual field trip to overcome the stagnant nature of class room teaching imposed due to the pandemic situation. Creating a balance between content in learning and teaching through incorporating IT, is always a challenge. The content of English A: Language and literature is varied and covers a multitude of cultural, religious, political and personal narratives. At times, it is difficult to familiarize the students with the contexts of these narratives without them experiencing it first-hand. Information technology has provided that window where from the confines of a classroom the students can visit renowned theatres, libraries, and birth places of authors of classic literature. Through integration of IT, this was made possible. The infrastructure supported the screening of the videos required to visit the Globe Theatre. (The courtesy of AKS-teacher)
All of this illustrates that with the integration of ICT into school curricula, we (Aga Khan Schools) have done our best to ensure that our pupils are equipped with one of the most critical 21st-century abilities. It’s long past time for parents to join us in our quest for achievement. “The illiterate of the twenty-first century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn,” as Alvin Toffler put it. For more info visit the school website https://www.agakhanschools.org.
Contact: +255222150700 / 255222150755