One of the key promises of the Jubilee government was to issue laptops to Standard one students in Kenya. The government in 2015 unveiled the digital literacy program under an inter-ministerial committee to champion for the project. During the annual budget read in June 2015, the Kenya government set aside Kshs. 17.58 billion for deployment of ICT learning devices to schools, development of digital content, building the capacity of teachers and rolling out computer laboratory for class 4 to class 8 in all schools throughout the country which set the project in motion.
Earlier in the year, the government announced that the consortia of Moi University– JP SA Couto and Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology (JKUAT)- Positivo BGH won the Kshs. 17 Billion tenders to supply laptops. The consortia were then to pilot the project before issuing of devices begun. The deployment of the devices to 22,000 schools across Kenya begun in September with over 600,000 devices to be issued.
A question must have wondered is how the process of deployment and issuance of devices takes place. We spoke with Calvin Kebati, the Director at Nairobi Industrial and Technology Park, which involved in the JKUAT-Positivo BGH deal on how they go about it. The two companies that won the tender have a select number of counties they are responsible for deploying and their activities are restricted to these areas.
The initial process involves a 3-5 day teacher training program, where the teachers are introduced to ICT and taught various modules such as integration of ICT in education. “We train the teachers in content creation, how to use the devices from both the teacher and student angle”, says Calvin. The next step involves the inspection of the facilities to ensure they meet certain standards. “We usually check if the school has electricity, storage capabilities, security measures and if these conditions are suitable for the deployment of the devices,” he says.
The installation of the devices takes place next, where the devices are set-up. The devices include a 10-inch tablets learners digital device (LDD) and a 14-inch laptop as the teachers’ digital device. There is also a projector for each of the schools. Special needs students receive 12-inch laptops with braille key boards, headphones and an embosser. The deployment also offers an access point which also acts as a file server. The content is stored in this access point, making it an e-library. Teachers also have the ability to develop their own content and store it here for future use and access. “This process of deployment takes place hand-in-hand with the teachers to ensure they fully understand what we offered during the training process,” he says.
After the completion of the installation, a post installation training and support takes place. “We have a dedicated call-center where teachers can call and ask questions about the devices. We also ensure we offer technical support for the devices,” says Calvin. To ensure continued support, the project has been working to identify ICT champions who are mainly teachers within the school to serve as trainers and deal with any emerging issues with the devices. They have also been working with locals with ICT knowledge to help with the local support.