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September 26, 2018

Theft of tablets a problem in flagship literacy project

State Department of ICT and Innovation Permanent Secretary Jerome Ochieng (left) and Moi University Vice Chancellor Prof Isaac Kosgey listens to the views of government agencies implementing the Digital Literacy Program at Rivatex in Eldoret on Friday.
State Department of ICT and Innovation Permanent Secretary Jerome Ochieng (left) and Moi University Vice Chancellor Prof Isaac Kosgey listens to the views of government agencies implementing the Digital Literacy Program at Rivatex in Eldoret on Friday.

The government is on course to set up digital learning centres in all public primary schools, ICT Principal Secretary Jerome Ochieng has said.

He said the centres will enhance collaborative learning, creativity and innovation by learners.

“The total number of devices to be manufactured locally and deployed is estimated to be 1.2 million and this will target learners in upper primary,” Ochieng said.

Through the programme, he said, the state has distributed tablets to more than 19,000 schools across the country. More than one million devices have been distributed. The programme of President Uhuru Kenyatta has been criticised as unrealistic and a poor choice of priorities.

The problem of many poor schools that lack walls, roofs, water, toilets and secure storage was not discussed. In poor areas, children learn under trees and the environment is too dusty for tablets or laptops.

The PS spoke on Friday when he led a delegation and the National Assembly ICT Committee to Moi University’s assembly plant at Rivatex in Eldoret. They inspected readiness for implementation of the Phase II of Digital Literacy Programme.

Ochieng said assembly lines at Moi and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology universities are among Africa’s best. Each assembles more than 1,000 tablets daily. The two lines, the PS said, will enable the country to achieve the Big Four agenda on local manufacturing.

He called for collaboration to solve problems such as the theft of devices. The PS said county commissioners are trying to recover stolen tablets.

“Use the Nyumba Kumi initiative to be custodians of devices and report thefts,” Ochieng said.

Moi University vice chancellor Issac Kosgey said his vision is to see Rivatex assembly plant rollout devices, not just for the Digital Literacy Programme, but for the local market.

“I want to see Moi University as a centre of ICT research and innovation alongside manufacturing ICT devices,” Kosgey said.

National Assembly ICT Committee members present — Mark Nyamita of Uriri and Sylvester Maritim of Ainamoi — promised support. The government has been implementing the literacy programme since 2016.

More than 91,000 teachers have been trained and the government plans to train more than 2,000 education officials, all public primary school heads, teachers and ICT champions in the education sector.

The Education ministry, through the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development, has developed content digital content for Standard 1, 2 and 3. The content for other classes will be added progressively.

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