• Government on the spot for failure to put in place adequate measures to ensure e-learning for all children during Covid-19 pandemic.
• Senators demand to know what happened to laptops that cost the taxpayer billions of shillings.
Recent remarks by Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha that online learning was ongoing around the country elicited heated debate in the Senate Tuesday.
The lawmakers demanded to know the whereabouts of laptops for schools that cost billions of shillings.
Senators accused the government of failing to put in place adequate measures to ensure e-learning for all learners during the Covid-19 pandemic.
They said that despite spending billions of shillings, more than 80 per cent of Kenya's children are not accessing online learning because they lack gadgets and other essential items.
They said Magoha's assertion that online learning was going on in most parts of the county amounted to a mockery of children from poor backgrounds.
“What is happening is that even after spending billions of shillings on laptops, we still cannot provide electronic learning to children,” Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang’ said.
“If this pandemic goes on until the end of the year, what are we going to do to our children? Ninety per cent of our children are not learning,” he said.
Kajwang' said thousands more children, especially those in the rural areas and informal settlements have not been taught since the schools closed in March due to the contagious disease.
Nominated Senator Abshiro Halake questioned where the billions pumped into the laptops and electricity connectivity went.
“The CS should come here and explain to us whether the millions pumped into the connectivity and the laptops have gone down the drain. Even the (few) children who have gadgets cannot use them because there is no electricity.
Nairobi’s Johnson Sakaja said the country should come to the reality that no learning is taking place, save for a few children whose parents can afford devices.
“We must accept there is no education going on. The ad hoc committee on Covid-19 situation in the country met education stakeholders and the long and short of it is that even as we pretend, we have to agree that the quality of education this year will not be the same as other years,” he said.
The lawmakers said lessons on KBC TV are not beneficial because they are erratic and do reach all the learners.
The legislators were contributing to a statement sought by nominated Senator Beatrice Kwamboka on the status of education in the country during the pandemic.
She wanted to know whether all the learners are equally accessing online educational materials given that not every parent or guardian uses digital mobile gadgets or have access to the internet.
“The committee should outline the steps the Ministry of Education intends to take to ensure that any imbalance in access to educational information and materials is checked and that those students that may be found to have no access to online classes are brought at par with the rest of the students,” she said.
Speaker Kenneth Lusaka directed the Education committee chaired by Bomet Senator Benjamin Lang'at to summon the CS to explain the status of education in the country.
“Chair of education, I think you have heard the voices of the representatives of the people. The committee needs to move with speed to reassure this country about education,” the speaker said.
Kisii's Sam Ongeri, himself a former Education minister, said the CS should explain the hitches in the transmission of digital content at KBC.
“When I was leaving the ministry, Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development had developed digital content for Classes 1 to 7 as well as Forms 1 and 2. The big problem was that while the transmission at KICD was digital, that at KBC was analogue,” he said.
“The further we can go with the transmission is 100km of Nairobi. We want to interrogate the minister on the issue of transmission and content,” he added.
- mwaniki fm