The Star (Nairobi)

17 February 2014

Kenya: Scrap Laptops, Let's Have Computer Labs

editorial

ON Saturday the parliamentary Education Committee said the controversial Sh24.8 billion laptop tender should not be awarded to the Indian company Olive.

The MPs said Olive was not an 'Original Equipment Manufacturer', as specified in the tender, because it does not have its own factory.

But rather than re-tendering the project, or awarding it to Olive's rivals HP or Haier, why doesn't the government rethink the whole project?

Jubilee promised laptops to all new primary school pupils in its election manifesto. It wants to keep its word. Fair enough.

But if a Jubilee government put computer labs in all 20,000 Kenyan primary schools, accessible to every year in the school, surely the electorate would feel that Jubilee had over-delivered on its promise, and not under-delivered.

The irony is that putting computer labs in every school would be much cheaper. If a lab had 30 computers, that would cost half as much as giving all 1.2 million new primary pupils a laptop.

The laptops project is unworkable. Kenya cannot afford to spend Sh24 billion every year on laptops for kids that will soon be stolen, broken or outdated. It is cheaper, more sensible and more efficient to create computer labs in all primary schools.

Quote of the day: "Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people. " - Giordano Bruno was burned alive for heresy in Rome on February 17, 1600

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