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How about computer laboratories for every school? State mulls over laptops
By By Augustine Oduor and Leah Gondi-Ogondi
Updated Wednesday, June 5th 2013 at 00:00 GMT +3
By Augustine Oduor and Leah Gondi-Ogondi
Kenya: The Government is now considering a computer laboratory model for every school to integrate Information and Communication Technology as opposed to one laptop for a child proposal.
The House Committee on Education, Science and Technology yesterday heard that the cost implication of the Jubilee pledge to provide all Standard One children with laptops may not be viable, after all.
In its proposal, the Mministry of Education said Sh22 billion is required to implement the first phase to cover some 425, 000 pupils in 6,000 primary schools. The overall project has been estimated to cost Sh75 billion if all the 1.3 pupils expected to join standard one next year are factored in.
Another set of 7,000 pupils would be targeted in the second and third phase with an annual estimated budget of Sh26.4 billion.
It emerged in yesterday’s meeting that sinking billions of shillings into the project may not be a ‘universal priority’ in all primary schools hence need to look for other options to integrate ICT in schools.
Acting Education Secretary Enos Oyaya told the committee the ministry has listened to views expressed by Kenyans over the project and its viability in the long term.
He also said the ministry is also looking at the budgetary implications for its implementation and proposed to Members of Parliament other options being considered.
Mr Oyaya who was representing Education PS George Godia in the meeting, said under the new plan, each school will be fitted with a computer laboratory to serve all pupils.
“These computers will be used by all the children because each class will have a timetable to use them,” he said.
Also present were PS Crispus Kiamba, Kenya National Examination Council Secretary Paul Wasanga, Teachers Service Commission secretary Gabriel Lengoiboni and representatives of Kenya National Union of Teachers. Education stakeholders had expressed reservations over the implementation strategy of the laptops project.
They proposed a well-equipped computer room to serve the entire school population and not just class one pupils. Others also suggested cheaper computers be developed or procured and be operated from one centralised server.
“With this it would be easy to control the content from one central server and also avoid cases where some pupils may access wrong information,” said Edith Ofwona, an IT expert and senior programme specialist with Canada’s International Development Research Centre.
Educationist Sara Ruto, Uwezo East Africa Regional Manager, challenged the Government to explore innovative and cost effective ways of implementing the project.
She said is well implemented all pupils will benefits and noted that based scientific evidence academic performance of the pupils would increase by some 30 per cent. Speaking yesterday, Oyaya said other options are also being explored that some may not necessarily include construction of new buildings to store the computers. “We are also looking at a possibility of constructing cabinets for the mobile devices such that they may be used in classes and taken back to a room where they will be kept in safes,” he said.
This is expected to largely cut on costs of implementing President Uhuru Kenyatta’s pledge.
Even with these, no figures were attached to each proposal. “We have made our recommendations and so we ask the committee to make a decision and act accordingly,” he told the Sabina Chege led Committee at Continental House.
Last week, parents said they would not allow additional levies even as the laptops project is implemented.
The initial document, Executive Brief on ICT Integration in Primary Schools, proposed that the security of the laptops be transferred to pupils and parents to cut the implementation cost.