Back in 2013, the then Presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta and his team were armed to the teeth with a futuristic manifesto that included solid promises, such as the issuance of tablet computers to Class 1 pupils. The project was to be under a digital literacy program that hoped to equip growing kids with computer skills at an early age. The program never really took off due to financial constraints, among other political reasons. At one time, some underwhelming prototypes were distributed to a handful of schools for testing purposes.
Now, it has been confirmed that the government is taking a detour from meeting its promise, but hopes to complete the journey in some other way. The tablets program has effectively been axed, and in its place is a new computer laboratory project that will see all 25,000 primary schools get one of the facilities each.
There is no timeline for the laboratory project, but construction and deployment of equipment should be in the pipeline for launch. However, the bureaucracy of government services may still drag implementation (the tablet project was marked by several setbacks, including studies that revealed that teachers were not equipped to impart key ICT skills to candidates – which required another budget for training them), but we will keep our eyes open.
This project will be supervised by the Ministry of Education, which should merge the project with a new curriculum. One can also not wonder why this approach wasn’t pursued in the first place as it is cheaper and beneficial to a vast pool of students.