The government is planning to provide laptops to university students as part of a Post-Covid-19 Economic Recovery Strategy that is being spearheaded by the National Treasury at a cost of Ksh 929.5 billion.
The program targets all first-year university students as the government focuses on embracing electronic learning.
The Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) has proposed to supply laptops to all new university students at a cost of Ksh 5 billion.
HELB CEO, Charles Ringera stated that the agency requires Ksh 2.5 billion for the first roll-out phase targetting half of the 122,000 First-Year students.
Ringera wants over 63,500 needy, marginalised and vulnerable students who will join universities next year to be prioritised.
Ksh 500 million has already been set aside for these students to ensure they do not drop out of university due to the digital programs.
“These laptops will be manufactured by three local universities which already started assembling gadgets for the digital learning program.
“It will be part of the Buy Kenya Build Kenya project,” Ringera stated.
Education CAS Simon Nabukwesi added that despite supporting the program, university heads would have to adopt a plan that explains how students will be issued with the laptops.
The government is in talks with suppliers to also reduce the price of laptops to between Ksh 30,000 and Ksh 40,000 to ensure that they are affordable to the other students (Second to Fourth Year students).
Parents have also been urged to support the shift from face to face learning to e-learning.
The plan comes at a time when the government has been highly criticised for failing to roll out a laptop program for primary school students.
The Jubilee Government announced the project as part of its manifesto in 2013. The initial phase targeted about 1.1 million pupils in Standard One in all the 23,000 primary schools.
It wasn’t until 2016 that the government started following through with the promise. However, it was no longer laptops, but tablets.
The project was then silently retired with only education sectors discussing and criticising the project.
Government’s plan to offer laptops to university students also comes at a time when Vice-Chancellors are pushing for the increment of university fees to raise funds in the institutions. They want fees to be tripled from Ksh 16,000 to Ksh 48,000.
To compound the crisis facing universities, the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) further slashed the average loan offered to students by Ksh 8,000.
HELB CEO, Charles Ringera, said that they had reduced the loans from Ksh 45,000 to Ksh 37,000 due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.