Why Is Kenya Giving Free Laptops to Primary School Pupils?

Fredrick Ngugi May 9, 2016 at 10:00am

May 09, 2016 at 10:00 am | Tech & Innovation

Fredrick Ngugi

Fredrick Ngugi | Contributor

May 09, 2016 at 10:00 am | Tech & Innovation

Kenyan primary school pupils receiving free tablets in the ongoing Digital Literacy Program in Kenya. (Photo: www.the-star.co.ke)

After a protracted implementation process, the Kenyan government has finally started issuing free laptops to primary school pupils in its efforts to integrate Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the school curriculum.

This past April, the Kenyan government kicked off the Proof of Concept program in which 150 primary schools are expected to act as a test bed in readiness for the implementation of the full Digital Literacy Program in all public primary schools.

 “What is positive about delivering to the four schools (initial four of the 150 pilot schools) is that we will have an opportunity to interact with the schools and note any impediments, rectify it and perfect our efficiency as we look into completing all Proof of Concept schools and also rolling out to 22,000 schools,” Kenya’s acting CEO of the ICT Authority and the Digischool technical committee, Robert Mugo, said in a statement to the local media.

Many critics have questioned the rationale behind the project, terming it as the “delivery of free toys to school kids.” Others have questioned the success of the project, arguing that some of the teachers expected to teach pupils how to use the laptops lack computer skills themselves.

Some Kenyan opposition leaders have criticized the project saying it is too costly for Kenyans, while others have expressed skepticism about the impact it will have on pupils, arguing that it will take many years before Kenyans begin to see the benefits.

The Government’s View

Despite these concerns, the Kenyan government has remained steadfast in its efforts to implement the project, which was one of its key promises to Kenyans in the last election campaign.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has often expressed his commitment to this project, assuring eager school children that they will have access to the laptops before his term in office comes to a close.

According to President Uhuru, the issuance of free laptops to primary school pupils will help give Kenyans a competitive edge in the advancing world of technology.

With the world already a global village, the Kenyan government is tasked with ensuring that the country has the right people power to exploit current and future technological advancements.

Studies have shown that Kenya is producing piecemeal graduates who lack the necessary ICT skills to be able to compete at a global level.

The Kenyan government hopes that providing laptops to children from less privileged families will equip its workforce with skills needed to foster growth.

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