The Higher Educations Loans Boards is seeking 2.5 from the Treasury to loan thousands of laptops to freshmen.
The board wants to provide at least 60,000 laptops to government sponsored students who form a significant part of the public university system.
The need for this funding has been necessitated by the pandemic which has forced the acceleration of distant learning instead of in-person classroom learning.
“This blended learning is the way to go in the future, the loans mean students can stop using small devices like mobile phones and at least use laptops,” HELB CEO Charles Ringera was quoted by the Star.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the renewed focus on e-learning which has always been sidelined as a sidekick to physical learning. The epidemic has forced institutions to adopt virtual learning via platforms like Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams as well as using online libraries to source content. It has also led to an increased demand for laptops and computers as students need them to join online classes.
The plan by HELB reminds us of a similar plan the ICT ministry had a decade ago. They launched the Wezesha campaign that sought to subsidize laptops for 15,667 university students. These students were provided vouchers with a KES 9,000 subsidy towards purchasing a laptop. 5 years ago, we saw JKUAT start the Taifa Laptop program to assemble laptops locally which were aimed to be sold to students but that didn’t go well.