Safaricom to offer free internet as State rolls out laptops pilot project

Mobile services provider Safaricom will offer free internet as the State moves to make the school laptops project a reality.

ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru said the Government will on Monday roll out a pilot phase  of the Sh17 billion laptops project.

Some 150 schools will be included in the project across the country. Safaricom Corporate Affairs Director Stephen Chege said they are working to determine how best to deliver the free internet, adding that the move will unlock significant value in the learning experience. The 12-week pilot project seeks to establish whether two consortia that won the laptops tender have the capacity to implement the full project in all the 22,000 primary schools.

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If all goes well, 11,000 schools will be supplied with 600,000 laptops by June this year in the first phase of the project, with the rest expected to receive the devices by June next year.

The two successful bidders for the project were the consortium of Moi University and JP Couto, and that of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) and Positivo BGH. Moi University will cover 26 counties and JKUAT will cover the remaining 21.

E-Ready

“The 150 schools selected for the pilot were certified to be e-ready by school head teachers in collaboration with County Education Officers. The e-readiness tool assessed the number of teachers trained, electricity connection and metering, device storage facilities, appropriate desks and availability of a secure classroom,” said Mr Mucheru at his office in Nairobi.

During the pilot project, the two bidders will be tested on their ability to deliver the devices on schedule, adherence to specifications, installation and testing of both the content and the devices as well as usability, functionality and support to schools to ensure everything works optimally.

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Mucheru said the setting-up of the local assembly line for the laptops and training of staff and other key players will start in the next few weeks. On his part, Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i said his ministry was working with the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) to ensure that the required digital content was available before the devices are supplied to schools.

Dr Matang’i said content for Standard One to Three was ready and the rest was being developed. He said content development for the digital platforms would not be monopolised by KICD but will be liberalised to allow all Kenyans to participate.

“The Government will only provide the minimum standards and guidelines for the content that will be developed. But we will not monopolise the sector,” he said.

Mucheru said each school has been given Sh60,000 to ensure that the rooms that will be housing the devices are well secured.

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safaricomlaptop projectICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru