Economy

Public primary schools to get internet at Sh15 billion

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Lafey Primary School pupils in Mandera assemble for community learning this week. PHOTO | MANASE OTSIALO | NMG

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Summary

  • The State will spend Sh15 billion to fund the ambitious project of linking public primary schools to internet as it scales up e-learning.
  • The funds will be used to lay infrastructure like fibre optic, cables, building ICT laboratories, electricity connections, buying tablets for learners and training teachers under the Digital Learning Project.
  • ICT Secretary Joe Mucheru yesterday told Parliament that 1,000 public schools have been selected for the project to start next month and will be co-funded by United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef).

The State will spend Sh15 billion to fund the ambitious project of linking public primary schools to internet as it scales up e-learning.

The funds will be used to lay infrastructure like fibre optic, cables, building ICT laboratories, electricity connections, buying tablets for learners and training teachers under the Digital Learning Project.

ICT Secretary Joe Mucheru yesterday told Parliament that 1,000 public schools have been selected for the project to start next month and will be co-funded by United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef).

This is the pilot phase of the project where the State is targeting the 24,000 public schools to link them to internet under the Jubilee administration’s plan that saw free laptops provided to the institutions.

The e-learning project is part of the Jubilee administration to ensure that children from low-income households who mostly attend public schools learn how to use computers and internet from an early stage like their peers in private schools.

UNIVERSITY ASSEMBLIES

“Over 1,000 schools (one school per ward) have been identified under phase one of school-net connectivity project being implemented by Unicef... The total cost of school-net is estimated to be Sh15 billion,” Mr Mucheru said.

The State has so far spent Sh32.241 billion to purchase laptops for the children between Grade One and Grade Three in the first phase.

Mr Mucheru added that another Sh61 billion will be required to roll out the second phase that targets learners in Grade Four to Six across 470 public schools.

Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology and Moi University have been contracted to assemble the devices from next month.

SOLAR POWER

The project was rolled out in March 2016 but has drawn opposition from education stakeholders who have argued that the State should build computer labs instead of providing one tablet per learner.

Poor access to electricity, teachers with limited computer literacy skills and dilapidated classrooms have also rocked the project with Mr Mucheru saying that they have now turned to solar energy to provide power in the remote areas.