Coding plan: Learn from the failed laptops project

Mr Sossion is a member of parliamentary Committees on Education and Labour. [Standard]

Information and Communications Technology (ICT) integration in primary education, popularly known as Digital Literacy Project, was one of the key flagship projects of Jubilee government.

But although noble, the project ground to a halt due to massive corruption in the procurement of tools such as computers, laptops, tablets, printers, whiteboards, projectors, spreadsheets and electronic textbooks,

Other factors that forced the government to terminate the Sh70 billion Digital Literacy Project (DLP) were lack of lack requisite ICT skills among teachers, most schools were not connected to the national grid, majority of schools lacked internet connection, lack of security for ICT tools, disconnection of power due to late or non-payment of bills, some of the gadgets were faulty, lack of technicians to service the devices, parents/guardians were not inducted adequately on DLP and thus never supported the project.

A report by the Ministry of Education which was tabled in Parliament in 2019 and the Auditor-General’s report confirmed that DLP, which was to transform the country’s education system to e-teaching and e-learning, collapsed largely due to fraudulent acts by government officials.

Thus, to revive DLP before addressing the loopholes in the procurement process and bringing to book unscrupulous State officials, who embezzled billions of shillings meant for the programme, is like flogging a dead horse.

Sh5 billion

In total abuse of principles of good governance, the Ministry of Education in partnership with ICT Authority have launched a coding syllabus which amounts to piling misery on top of DLP and the fledgling Competency Based Curriculum (CBC).

It is immoral for the government to implement the Sh5 billion coding plan before addressing the laptops project scam and other related challenges that led to the collapse of DLP.

Evidently, implementation of the coding syllabus, which is part of DLP, would require a Parliament approved Sessional Paper to legally support the programme; a government approved budget; ICT teaching tools; ICT savvy teachers, and more importantly, parents/guardians must be inducted adequately to support the coding curriculum.

It is an act of deception for ICT Authority to state that the government has distributed more than 1.2 million laptops in public schools to support DLP knowing very well that the project collapsed in 2018.

The next government will have to prioritize the review of the country’s education system with the aim of establishing e-teaching/e-learning, and more importantly restructure CBC to provide the Kenyan child with capabilities they require to become economically productive.

Mr Sossion is a member of parliamentary Committees on Education and Labour