Kenya: Mucheru Seeks International Support to Fund Laptop Project

The Jubilee administration is seeking international support to boost the digital literacy project that it launched eight years ago.

In one of the most expensive campaign pledges in Africa, the party promised in 2013 to issue laptops to all learners joining primary school to prepare them to thrive in a digital economy.

The programme was partially implemented after the government preferred tablets because laptops were too expensive and delicate. In phase one, 1,168,798 tablets were distributed to 21,637 primary schools at Sh32 billion.

Although about 330,000 teachers were trained on ICT integration, the ambitious project stopped after the initial phase due to budgetary constraints.

To resuscitate the programme, ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs Cabinet Secretary Joseph Mucheru is using the Global Education Summit in London to seek funding for new tablets, teacher-training and other requirements.

Committed

Mr Mucheru told participants on Wednesday that despite the challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, the government remains committed to introduce laptops in primary and secondary schools.

"President Uhuru Kenyatta and I want to supply laptops to all students so they can have equal access to good education regardless of their social background," he said.

The CS said access to education for both girls and boys in rural and urban areas requires more funding for major interventions to be explored.

"We need more funding to increase the budget to enable every student to have access to a device," said the CS.

Mr Mucheru said Kenya introduced a competency-based curriculum that requires students to use technology from a tender age.

The CS said cited poor infrastructure, low budgetary allocations and lack of internet connectivity in schools as the main challenges.

National Treasury and Planning Ministry Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani said Kenya will continue to provide free primary and secondary education to all children.

Education budget

In the 2021/2022 budget, the Treasury allocated Sh503.9 billion to education, up from Sh487.7 billion.

Sh12 billion was allocated for free primary education, Sh2.5 billion for recruitment of teachers and Sh62.2 billion for free secondary education. About Sh1.8 billion was allocated for the school feeding programme.

A further Sh420 million was set aside for digital literacy programmes and ICT integration in secondary schools while Sh4.2 billion is to be used for infrastructure development.

The summit began on Tuesday and will end on Friday with President Kenyatta scheduled to address participants on financing for transformation.

Technology in education

The President is co-chairing the forum with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Experts called on governments to ensure that technology is infused in the education system.

They also called for robust teacher-training programmes on technology. The summit comes at a critical time for education worldwide, as the impact of the pandemic risks turning back decades of progress.

An estimated 20 million girls could drop out permanently because of pandemic-related closures. The summit is a unique opportunity for world leaders to fully fund GPE and get 88 million more children in school.

The funds will enable 175 million girls and boys to learn and help governments save $16 billion through more efficient education spending.

The campaigns also aims to raise at least Sh539 billion to fund education in up to 90 GPE beneficiary countries in the next five years.

Generation Unlimited Youth ambassador for Kenya, Cynthia Nyongesa, Foreign Affairs CS Raychelle Omamo and the 2019 Global Teacher Prize winner, Peter Tabichi, will address the summit today.

Others are GPE youth leader and Nashipai Maasai project founder, Selina Nkoile, 'Girls Not Brides' chief executive Faith Mwangi and GPE youth leader, humanity and inclusion, Anthony Were.

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