Kenya: Laptop plan runs into headwinds

Computing

Matters have been made worse by a teaching fraternity locked in a bitter salary dispute, throwing the project’s implementation strategy into disarray.

“Most teachers in primary schools are computer illiterate and cannot perform such simple tasks as downloading their payslips from the Internet. Many rural schools have serious infrastructure challenges such as lack of classrooms, desks and chairs and are off the electricity grid,” said Duncan Odhiambo, a teacher at Gungu Primary School in Homa Bay County.

The Treasury has allocated the laptop project Sh17.4 billion. This will cater for the purchase of 1.35 million laptops for class one pupils next year, development of digital content, building teachers’ capacity and rolling out computer laboratories for class 4-8 pupils.

Players in the telecommunications industry have also raised concerns over the manner in which the Government is going about implementing the project.

The Telecommunications Service Providers Association of Kenya (Tespok), while lauding the project, urged the State to come clean over its deal with Microsoft International.

President Uhuru Kenyatta hosted the firm’s global president, Jean-Philippe Courtois, at State House early this month. It is understood that Courtois assured Uhuru that his company would develop at least five enterprises in each county to provide hardware, connectivity and software technical support in schools.