Jubilee digital literacy programme is running into the headwinds of theft in Bungoma County, with the devices disappearing into neighbouring Uganda. In the last few months, four schools have lost hundreds of the branded tablets issued to them as thieves exploit weak security measures
It is 2pm at Tulienge Primary, Cheptais, Bungoma County. Bravin Simiyu and his classmates have come from lunch and are sitting for their digital lessons.
But the laptops necessary for the lesson are missing. They were stolen on the night of May 4, all 46 of them and the teachers instructional laptop. “Our pupils had gotten used to the tablets two months after we started the programme and had made great progress. Since they were stolen, the programme has stalled,” head teacher Patrick Nato told School and College. Despite losing the devices, the pupils still turn up for their lessons. They remain hopeful that the classes will resume.
“I cannot stay at home because another pupil will take and use my tablet,” says Bravin, a seven-year-old class two. Four other schools in the county are singing the same song. Namawanga FYM primary was the first to suffer the loss after thieves struck at night, cutting off part of the roof above the head teacher’s office and carting away 64 laptops. That was in August last year. Head teacher Sarah Nyongesa said the school was closed for the August holiday when the thieves struck.
“The school was left with only 21 tablets. Pupils are literary fighting for the remaining tablets,” she says. The pupils are asking for other laptops to allow digital lessons to resume. Sarah bumped into one of the stolen laptops that had been intercepted by police officers manning the Kenya-Uganda border. “But it did not belong to my school. I looked at the serial number, compared it with mine and realised it belonged to another school,” she said. Also forced to halt digital lessons are pupils at Mufungu Salvation Army (SA) Primary School. The school lost 49 of the 72 tablets it received in September last year. “Thieves broke in at night and stole the laptops. I was called at 5am and told that my office had been broken into and our laptops stolen,” said head teacher Charles Chebukati, who reported the matter to area chief and at the Malakisi police station.