“The county government is spending Sh26. 4 million to equip the 15 polytechnics with computers. Already 15 ICT centres, each in the elected polytechnics, have been constructed with funding from the county government of Kitui,” said the chief officer for ICT and Trade, Gladys Kivoto.
She said by the end of March, all the 15 ICT centres will have received 16 computers, and associated accessories. “This is a pilot project and if it works, it will be rolled out in all the polytechnics in future,” she said.
Kivoto was speaking last Tuesday at Kathivo Youth Polytechnic in Kitui West Constituency where she delivered computers to the facility. She said other institutions that have received computers include Waita, Ikuuni, Kyatune and Ithiani polytechnics.
Kivoto said the objective of the programme is to attract learners interested in learning computer packages. She said students taking other courses like masonry, dressmaking and carpentry will take up the new computer courses.
“Our polytechnics will no longer be the ordinary youth polytechnics we are used to. We are introducing computer studies as a value addition. We want to attract more learners to the polytechnics,” said Kivoto.
“The Governor (Julius Malombe) wants to see our youth polytechnics producing tech-savvy graduates. Whatever core courses the students could be taking, the learners have to be computer literate in order to fit well into the Kenyan job market. That is the bottom line,” Kivoto said.
She said going forward, the youth graduating from polytechnics in Kitui will no longer be looked down upon as people with inferior qualifications.
“We also expect local secondary school students to take up computer courses during school holidays,” she said.
She added that the ICT centres will also come handy for people who are doing business with the government. "We are adopting e-procurement and merchants must be e-compliant with computer skills,” Kivoto said.
The computers were handed over to the polytechnic manager Liza Martha in the presence of the Kitui West sub-county administrator Penninah Nzile and students.
"I am hopeful that the availability of computers will attract more learners. Our enrollment has of late nosedived,” Martha said.
Speaking on behalf of fellow students, Esther Ngumbau said the ICT centre is a clear indication that the county administration is concerned about the plight of polytechnic students. “That gives every student the impetus to study hard and ensure he or she excels in his or her course of study. We will not let our benefactors down,” pledged Ngumbau.
Local resident Annah Mwanzia said the idea to equip polytechnics with computers is most welcome. “It is unbelievable that computer studies will be taken right at our village. The leaders we have here today had their first interface with computers at the university,” said Mwanzia.
She said the programme will no doubt give the wobbling village polytechnic a new lease of life. “I expect to see many people, young and old, taking lessons in computer packages,” said Mwanzia.