The Jubilee government’s signature project to digitise learning has gobbled up Sh32.2 billion.
The government plans to spend Sh61 billion more in the second phase of the Digital Learning Project (DLP), between next month and May 2021, to keep the promises it made before coming to power in 2013.
This is despite schools being shut to combat the spread of coronavirus. To make the project work, a further Sh15 billion would be spent on Internet connectivity, according to ICT Cabinet Secretary Joseph Mucheru.
The cost of the project will even be higher when training of teachers, development of relevant infrastructure and installation of electricity are factored in.
While on the campaign trail before the March 2013 General Election, Mr Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate William Ruto promised to give every Standard One pupil in a public school a laptop.
After the promise ran into logistical and financial headwinds, the DLP was launched in 2017 and government ended up giving tablets instead.
Appearing before the Senate Committee on Education yesterday, Mr Mucheru said 21,637 public primary schools were supplied with 1,168,798 devices, accounting for 99.6 per cent of the contracted 21,729 schools in Phase One of the project.
Despite the heavy investment, learners in public primary schools have been left idle as their counterparts in private schools get online lessons after schools were closed in March.
Mr Mucheru said Phase Two of the project – now at the proof of concept stage – targets 470 schools. It has 10 schools in every county.
“The acquisition and assembly of the devices is expected to start in September to December 2020. They should be ready for distribution in January. The proof of concept stage is expected to end in May and full rollout will start in July,” the CS said.
The devices will be given to learners in Grade 4 to 6. They include advanced learners digital devices as per the school enrolment and three advanced teacher digital kits.
Every school will be supplied with five digital output devices known as educational robots and one wireless access point.
The ministry is developing procedures and policies in e-learning to enable the devices distributed to homes.
The implementation of this phase will adopt a three-year framework contract.
“The learner devices will be assembled locally,” Mr Mucheru told the committee.
The contract to assemble the devices has been awarded to Moi and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, the initial contractors for Phase One.
Assembly plants at the JKUAT Juja main campus and at Rivatex campus in Eldoret for Moi University can produce 1,200 digital devices each in one eight-hour shift.
The rollout was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“There are 1,902 new schools that have not received devices due to budgetary constraints,” Mr Mucheru said.
The government has spent more money in the training of teachers and development of other infrastructure to support the project. The cost details for these projects are under the respective agencies, he said.
The Teachers Service Commission has trained 331,000 tutors on ICT integration.