Challenges Facing President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Laptop Promise
Uhuru should tap into the services of the information and communications technology
Providing laptops for Class One pupils in Kenyan public schools was a key pledge by President Uhuru Kenyatta. However, one begs to question whether it should be a priority, given the huge debt burden his Jubilee Alliance Government has inherited. Further, there are more important educational needs for such children which he should focus on.
Insofar as the immediate former Grand Coalition Government led by retired President Mwai Kibaki and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga lauded a robust economic growth, Uhuru has inherited a broke Government. In a report by Nasong’o Isaac on April 8, 2013 at kuzabiashara.co.ke, Kenya’s domestic debt tripled to Ksh74.9 billion from Ksh25.2 billion in September 2012, because of short-term borrowing. Due to a shortfall in the tax revenue and donor funding, the Treasury embarked on domestic borrowing to the tune of Ksh32 million last December. The domestic debt currently stands at “nearly half of the total public debt which is about Ksh1.8 trillion”, said Nasong’o. A recent analysis by Kestrel Capital, an independent stockbroker, cautioned that the high debt burden was because of increased Government spending amidst a slow pace of income generation. On April 15, 2013 George Ngigi wrote in the Business Daily newspaper that: “Gross government domestic debt increased by Sh141.4 billion to Sh1.0 trillion on April 5, 2013, from Sh858.8 billion at the end of June 2012.”
During Kibaki’s first term, World Bank experts warned that a lot of Government revenue was being allocated to the three arms of Government; namely, the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary, at the expense of other vital sectors. To make it worse, members of these wings did not pay taxes uniformly as other Kenyan workers. In the past, the country’s tax collector, Kenya Revenue Authority, has repeatedly attempted to enforce income tax payments on Members of Parliament without success. When key politicians like former President Kibaki, Prime Minister Odinga and Vice President Kalonzo paid their income tax arrears in 2011, it was highly publicized in the Kenyan media. Very few parliamentarians like former presidential candidate Peter Kenneth and newly elected Senator Johnstone Muthama paid taxes during the last government.
A court petition filed by a civil society organization prior to this year’s General Election, wanted the Independent and Electoral Boundaries Commission to bar some former 209 politicians in the last Parliament such as Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, from contesting because they had refused to pay tax arrears. Since the duo has such a poor record of tax payment, how will they enforce the process on the current politicians? Also, will Uhuru curb waste in public spending, yet he used two helicopters for himself and his wife to Ukunda in the Coast during his first weekend as president-elect?
In 2008-09, a total of Ksh1.229 billion was factored into the country’s national budget to cater for household and press expenses of Kibaki, Raila and Kalonzo. Here is the breakdown cited verbatim from a report by Mars Group on September 8, 2008:
“President: The total cost of the President’s household and the press service is Ksh888.5 million this year. The National Budget says that the cost of maintaining the official residences of President Kibaki (6 State Lodges and State House Nairobi) is Ksh823 million for this year. The President’s Press Unit (comprising 37 staff) is Ksh65 million this year. The President has 388 staff employed in all the State residences and the use of 149 cars.
Vice-President: The total cost of the Vice-President’s household and the press service is Ksh230.7 million this year. The Vice-President’s household and press unit will cost the Kenyan taxpayer Ksh185.3 million. The amount provided does not include the VP’s house allowance of Ksh2.4 million (Ksh200,000 per month). The Vice President’s household has an annual budget of Ksh4.3 million for hospitality – about Ksh358 000 per month. Just over Ksh30 million is budgeted for rent under the VP’s Household budget line. The household can consume Ksh14 million per year on fuel and stay within budget, while also spending Ksh11 million on routine maintenance of vehicles, and a further Ksh6.5 million on maintenance of other assets in the households. Over Ksh75 million has been allocated to the VP’s household for domestic and foreign travel. Last year the Vice President’s official household comprised of 57 staff and there were 12 cars.
Prime Minister: The total cost of the Prime Minister’s household and the press service is Ksh110.6 million this year. The Prime Minister’s household and catering budget Ksh36.9 million annually. This includes Ksh5 million for utilities-water and electricity, Ksh1.2 million for advertising, Ksh26.5 million for hospitality and Ksh2.2 million for purchase of household furniture this year. Next year the Finance Minister projects the purchase of household furniture to increase to Ksh5.5 million. Additionally, the Prime Minister has a house allowance of 4.8 million this financial year (about Ksh400,000 per month). The Prime Minister also has a dedicated press unit whose budget is Ksh68.9 million per annum.”
A balancing act
The Jubilee government is walking a tight rope of balancing between delivering its ambitious election pledges and prioritizing economic demands for national development, as stipulated in the Constitution. Uhuru’s spending plan includes: abolishing maternity charges at all public hospitals and access fees at dispensaries and health centers. According to Ngigi in the Business Daily, he has the following options: to adjust the debt growth if he gets donor support, increase taxes or simply break some of the political promises in his party manifesto. Pundits assert that higher taxes will amount to tax evasion. However, an immediate option would be to re-introduce the Value Added Tax (VAT) Bill, which if passed, could bring immediate short-term revenue of Ksh11 billion.
During President Kenyatta’s maiden speech at the 11th Parliament on April 16, 2013 he emphasized that Kenya’s public sector wage of Ksh458 billion for this year alone, is not sustainable, since it swallows 12 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), against the global recommendation of seven per cent. His speech centered on reducing Government waste so as to invest more in his economic goals. Other pledges during the joint session in Parliament included ending grand corruption and harmonizing the youth and women funds to allow easy access within constituencies.
Laptops or lollipops?
Social media is abuzz with Uhuru’s laptop promise claiming he was misquoted in the election campaigns, since what he meant was lollipops and not laptops for Class One children. Nonetheless, the President is emphatic that solar-driven laptops will be provided from January 2014 and some people estimate they will cost Ksh10 billion. Granted, in any society that affords children all the basic educational needs, they are an added value in cognitive skills development. But Kenya’s educational landscape lacks skilled teachers amounting to 80,000. Overall, there is an urgent need to increase the number of teachers from the current 275,000 to 350,000, according to the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT).
When former President Kibaki began to implement his 2002 election pledge for free primary education (FPE) in public schools in January 2003, teacher recruitment was not prioritized. Moreover, the high pupil enrolment rates have not only led to overcrowded classrooms, but also the burden of having around two teachers only to manage over 300 children at schools in marginalized areas. To make it worse, the teacher-pupil ratio in some schools is 1:100. For Ksh10 billion, Kenyatta’s Government can train more teachers within the next two years to bridge the gap. But the Treasury recently put a freeze in public sector staff recruitment despite KNUT’s request for Ksh15 billion to recruit 40,000 teachers, and an additional Ksh6 billion to employ teachers into the early childhood development program. Countrywide, more than 3.5 million children do not have teachers yet there is a surplus of 40,000 trained, but unemployed teachers. The problem began during Kibaki’s era when KNUT disagreed over his government’s push for an intern/contractual basis of recruitment, yet the union wanted permanent employment for teachers.
A Class One child in Kenya can benefit a lot from computers, just as any child in a developed country. Nevertheless, without adequate learning materials and other needs like school uniforms which still remain the burden of parents, why would laptops be a priority? Will the children be allowed to carry them home and back to school or they would remain for safekeeping at school? What about installing computer labs so that children can use them at scheduled periods? Many children in semi-arid and pastoral communities are attracted to school because of feeding programs. They don’t have enough food at home and survive on the single school meal. Can this be prioritized instead? A hungry child will not benefit from a laptop.
Uhuru had an upper class childhood and attended Kindergarten and Class One and Two at the prestigious Loreto Convent, Valley Road in Nairobi. He was also privileged to study at St. Mary’s School in Nairobi from Class Three to Form Six. Could it be that he subconsciously wishes to see Kenyan children enjoy a portion of his early lifestyle? The reality on the ground for many of the almost one million children absorbed in public primary schools annually is shocking; they live in abject poverty. In addition, various reports indicate damning evidence of poor learning outcomes with very marginal skills improvement nationally, especially for such children. For instance, a study by Uwezo East Africa 2012, found that: “Two out of three pupils in Standard 3 across East Africa are not able to pass basic tests in English, Kiswahili or numeracy at the Standard 2 level.”
Uhuru should tap into the services of the information and communications technology (ICT) sector and top educators to understand expected challenges in his laptop promise. The way to go would be to install Internet-driven systems for collaborative learning, since these children could gain a lot by linking virtually with others in the country and globally. Images are very important during a child’s formative stages of life and seeing other parts of the country and people albeit virtually, would broaden their perspectives. Videoconferencing through Skype and other virtual platforms could help them grasp the English language and Kiswahili, especially in rural and poor urban areas. Talking to children from other ethnic groups would humble them and instill a sense of tolerance for their varied cultures. The laptop program should have a broader goal beyond enhancing basic literacy.
There is no shortage of suppliers for low-cost technological tools from China, Asia and Europe. However, can the Jubilee Government learn from the mistakes by Kibaki’s Narc Government in the implementation of FPE? Can the Government watch out for Anglo-Leasing ghosts who could hijack the procurement process of the laptops to get their cut/commission? The One Laptop per Child initiative is already benefiting some students in Kenya; can Uhuru’s Administration learn from it? Why is the initiative facing challenges in Nigeria? How is the one laptop per child project faring in Rwanda? Why Class One only in Kenya, instead of wiring all primary schools so that there is continuity of usage as pupils transit to other classes? A mixed mode of technology and traditional learning remains the most appropriate for Kenya. Replacing textbooks or teachers with laptops is clearly not a solution.
The Kilgoris Project is an example which Uhuru can get his experts to examine. Pedagogically, what is the value of assigning Class One children laptops? Sweden for instance, is a world leader in ICT and constitutionally accords access to computers throughout the compulsory level of education. Furthermore, the educational system does not have a laptop per child program, but the sharing of computers per number of children in classrooms. These are connected to the Internet which enables them to twin with schools outside the country and run virtual projects among themselves. If high capacity solar-systems are installed in Kenyan schools, perhaps projectors with Internet connection would be more beneficial. Primary school beginners gain a lot cognitively through interaction, which builds their confidence and promotes socialization. There are a few months to go before the program kicks off in January 2014. Thorough investigations should therefore be carried out; otherwise the laptop pledge will amount to another white elephant.
From lollipop to laptop
By CHARLES WOKABI
Posted Tuesday, April 16 2013
Questions abound over the realisation of a promise by the government to provide a solar-powered laptop to every Kenyan child joining Standard One next year.
As one of its key campaign promises, the Jubilee Coalition headed by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, Mr William Ruto, pledged to give free solar-powered laptops to each of the 800,000 children joining Class One in 2014 with a view to raising a tech-savvy generation that would fit better in the modern world.
If this happens, Kenya will have edged closer to realising its dream of being a regional tech hub, joining the leagues of a few other countries in the world which have made deliberate efforts to expose pupils to technology early in their lives.
But it is an uphill task that faces the new government as it seeks to implement this particular project alongside other promises it made as it sought votes in the past several months.
“It is a good idea but it will require too much to actualise, given the challenges facing the country’s education system,” former Education minister Mutula Kilonzo said.
A significant portion of Kenya’s public schools, especially those in the rural areas, have teachers who are barely conversant with computers and how they work.
For the project to succeed, the government will have to conduct thorough training of teachers before they can manage to instruct the children on how to use the machines.
However, it is the cost of implementing the project, along with others, that poses the greatest challenge, given the current budgetary constraints.
The Treasury is currently reworking the 2013/14 national budget to re-align it with the Jubilee Coalition promises and a devolved system of governance that has literally bloated government expenses.
Analysts have conservatively estimated that the new government would require at least Sh100 billion each year to ensure delivery of the promises it made to the citizenry, including the laptop project, free maternity health services, free milk for primary school children, and free access to public health services.
Former Finance minister Njeru Gitahe said the laptop project would initially be done on a pilot bases and would cost not less than Sh14 billion annually.
Inheriting huge financial burdens from the former regime in terms of budget deficits, Mr Kenyatta’s government faces a herculean task in its attempt to implement its promises.
Critics of the laptop project believe that the government is better off first ensuring that every child has access to food and shelter before committing over Sh14 billion to laptops.
The rationale for the laptop project is also being put to question, with early childhood educationists saying the computers will not be of much use to pupils at that level.
“Most children in Class One are still too young to understand some concepts. The best they will do with the machine is play with them and not do anything productive. The best stage to introduce the laptops would have been Class Four, when the child has matured a little and his or her understanding has improved so that they can comprehend complex concepts,” Ms Wangui Mathu, an early childhood teacher in Nairobi, told Smart Company.
There have also been concerns that the implementation of the project will provide fodder for mismanagement and embezzlement of tax payer’s money, as has happened to many state projects before.
Despite an assurance by the Education permanent secretary, Prof George Godia, that the ministry is prepared to implement the pledge, concerns remain that some school heads may want to take advantage of loopholes in the system for selfish personal gain, as happened with the Free Primary Education scheme.
A forensic audit released by the government in June 2011 unveiled devious schemes used by a network of civil servants to steal Sh4.2 billion meant to fund free primary education.
The audit, released by President Kenyatta, who was the then Finance minister, noted that infrastructure projects targeting schools are the avenues that provide the conduit for tax payers’ money to be funnelled into the pockets of a few corrupt officials.
In order to avert a crisis, clear regulations on the administration and management of the project will need to be put in place and made public to seal some of the loopholes which would-be project managers could be looking to exploit.
Prof Godia said the laptop project fits perfectly with the ministry’s ambition to fully integrate information and communication technology in the country’s education system to make the Kenyan child competitive in the global job market.
However, he cautioned that people should stop looking at the system only from the perspective of hardware but also concentrate on software and the digitisation of the syllabus.
Over the past few years, the government has put in high gear efforts to digitise learning materials from the Kenya Institute of Education, a process that is still ongoing and has been partially blamed for the slow adoption of e-learning despite the availability of many applications to support it.
This will be the other headache that the new government will grapple with before it starts dishing out the laptops next year, as demand rises for digitised learning material, including illustrations and pictures that can appeal to Class One pupils.
“We must start looking at this project from a broader perspective. It is not just a laptop but also the software it will carry, the content, and so on. It will ultimately improve the quality of our education,” Prof Godia said.
Information and Communications permanent secretary Bitange Ndemo said the one-laptop-per-child project will end up creating employment for inventive Kenyans who can make interesting educational digital content.
“The laptop project is very useful for this country, regardless of the time it takes to actualise. It creates a large market for local developers making educational apps and content developers,” Dr Ndemo said.
The government will also have to make sure the computers it gives to school children do not expose them to immorality through unlimited access to the Internet, especially in places where children can access unfettered connectivity.
Rwanda is the only country in the East African region with such a programme. It deploys at least 100,000 laptops to school-going children across the country every year.
Mr President, Don’t Just Do It, Do It Right
Monday, April 15, 2013 – 00:00 — BY CAROLINE MUTOKO
There comes a time in every politician’s life when the funfair must end and the brutal task of getting on with it must start. A time when the niceties end, the media take off the kid gloves and put on the boxing gloves and we get ready to rumble – for four years.
Brutal stuff. That time for our newly elected President is now. President Uhuru is expected to name his proposed cabinet today and tomorrow morning we might just have him for breakfast.
He will arrive in Parliament tomorrow to a warm or icy reception. There comes a time when that chick who writes for the Star says those dreaded words: “President Uhuru, we need to talk”.
Boss, on the laptops: don’t just do it, do it well
I’m with Gado on that fabulous cartoon. However, I’m not going to rumble on about how it’s not do-able and how it’s not a priority or where is the logic in it – you’ve heard that before. I want to suggest you take some bold steps to ensure Gado never has to run that cartoon again.
I listened to the presentation made by the young men of Lenana School on the issues of our education system, what’s needed to get us to Vision 2030 and equip us all successfully into creative, thinking, ambitious individuals who will take this nation to greater heights. I was thrilled to note that even they don’t care much for the free laptops – our real needs are bigger. The presentation from those young men should be sitting on your iPad. I sent it.
Allow me to put it into perspective. If you had promised Vitz to all young women aged 18-25 so that they wouldn’t need to walk through rain and mad, or spoil their shoes, or have to struggle in matatus, the country would have ground to a halt.
Chicks would have tattooed your name across their chests, named all their unborn children after you and come to the inauguration and screamed themselves hoarse.
They would have liked you on Facebook and changed their relationship status to read “in a relationship – with Uhuru.” It wouldn’t have mattered if they had no homes, no food or didn’t know how they would fuel or service the Vitz. Heck, I would be faking my documents to ensure I was 23 just to get my Vitz.
Is it a priority? No. It’s a “nice to have”. Same thing with the laptops. It’s a brilliant idea but I believe you need to defer it. Hear me out. I’m not rubbishing the idea; I’m saying don’t just do it, do it well.
Our budget needs to put money in education and a good chunk needs to go towards hiring more teachers, training teachers (who can use technology), paying public school teachers better, building more classrooms, giving classrooms a roof, windows, desks, books and even sanitation and then rolling out the laptops.
Buy yourself some time to get the logistics right. We haven’t yet sorted out the distribution of sanitary towels to ensure that young girls can go to school and stay in school.
Trust me when I say that a young girl in standard seven or eight needs a sanitary towel as much as she needs a pen. It’s an instrument of learning.
You might not understand, so speak to your wife Margaret and get Rachel Ruto in the room as well – she’ll draw you a picture. My plea again – hold off on the laptops until you get certain fundamentals right.
My promise – I’ll back you. It’s not an election promise that you didn’t fulfill; it simply means as a leader you can say, I want to get this one right. You still have pregnant women who are about to either cruse you out in the maternity ward in a few weeks or name their babies after you. Don’t just do it, do it right.
Mr President, you are no longer campaigning; you are now our leader and leaders don’t say what people want to hear. They tell them what they need to hear, even when they don’t want to hear it.
They make tough decisions, they bomb countries, send other people’s children to war, raise taxes and sign Bills into law that change lives. Yours is a horrible job – but it’s your job.
What you don’t want is those laptops to be sold to buy food, sold to get shoes for kids or worse still thrown away. Kibaki had it right – free education.
What he really needed to do was also upscale our primary school facilities. Even if it’s free education, it must be quality education. More classrooms, more teachers, better paid committed and motivated teachers and a better curriculum. Your laptops will crash under the weight of untrained, uninformed, technologically-illiterate teachers. Don’t just do it, do it right.
Don’t let these laptops be seen as toys. Give yourself time to ensure that the software and apps that will go into those laptops will be beneficial.
Education software is expensive, but without the right software and apps, those laptops are toys. Ensure that the laptops will be instruments of learning.
Task the ministry to get the supply deal to ensure that when the laptops arrive they are loaded with great learning aids. Give the youth a chance to write the apps that will go onto the laptops – hey, there’s an idea, you can thank me later.
Give the education sector a chance to write and approve the software that will go onto the laptops. From Maths, to the alphabet, to mini dictionaries, their multiplication tables and formulae.
Make sure they hold a small app with our anthem, a school-friendly version of your manifesto and our constitution and even a 30-second YouTube message from you. Make sure they come loaded with pictures of the magnificence of this country – not the mountains and lakes – no, the stuff that speaks of our future.
There’s a lot to be done to ensure that when these laptops arrive they will truly change how we learn. In fact, they should enhance learning. Then line up the trucks, flag them off. Don’t just do it, do it well.
Let me reiterate, the laptop is a fab idea; it just needs to be thought-out well and rolled out even better. If you must delay it, so be it. I can see your dream through my daughter’s eyes.
At two years, my daughter operates my iPhone with ease. She knows where the pictures sit, where her items on YouTube sit and all her apps are about learning – ABCs, counting, numbers, songs, animals, instruments, cars, planes etc.
Annoyingly, she also knows how to take the phone off “airplane mode”. I used to think I could save myself some money if she couldn’t access YouTube, but when the phone says “disable or cancel”, she chooses disable. I weep. She can’t read, but she knows what gets her what she wants. If your phone isn’t “touch”, she tends to give it back with the words “not working”. The iPad may be bigger than her little hands, but she doesn’t care; she’s all over it.
Let me say it again – I can see your dream through my daughter’s eyes. Her future is digital, technology is her language, but can you imagine what she will be doing and what her technological needs will be by the time she is six?
The laptops must not be a gimmick, they must not end up as waste, they can’t be toys, they can’t be seen as the item that will sink your presidency.
So if you must defer the idea by months, a year or two – go right ahead. You are no longer campaigning and this isn’t your money (yeah, yeah your dad’s face is on it); it’s ours. Give our children laptops by all means. However, don’t just do it. Do it well. Do it right.
What is lap-top Kikuyu are very rich people ,they dont need to beg .Uhuru Kenyatta has promised them free school milk free lunch free ride to school free viagra for the youth to retain the tyranny of numbers and good houses <
It only happens in Kenya heroes are treated like stray dogs >This is the man who composed Kenyas National Anthem .was rewarded with a second hand underwear won by Mzee Jomo Kenyatta>
Uhuru Kenyatta is a Sick Man What Kenya children need first is Food. shelter good health . majority of Kenyan children suffers from Tape-worms (Minyoo)flees, lice, jiggers, .dysentry,malasmus, kwashiorkor, maralia typhod, Laptops should not be a priority, Uhuru Kenyatta is going to make billions of shillings through selling milk to all Kenya schools and milk comming from Brokeside company owned by Kenyatta family!
UHURU KENYATTA’S MORE TYPING “ERRORS”
at 7:57 AM ·
By The Standard Team
May 26 3009
Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta was last night headed for more trouble following fresh claims that there were new discrepancies amounting to Sh10.7 billion in the revised Supplementary Budget approved by Parliament last week.
The claims have dealt a huge blow on Uhuru, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, and put Treasury on the spot again only two weeks after the minister was let off the hook for presenting budget figures with errors.
On Monday, Uhuru did not take calls while Finance Permanent Secretary Joseph Kinyua flatly declined to speak to The Standard. But Uhuru’s allies swiftly rallied to his rescue, with a majority turning the heat on the whistleblower — Mars Group — dismissing their revelation as a cheat publicity stunt.
Mars Group Kenya chief executive Mwalimu Mati said in memorandum to the National Assembly at the weekend that the Budget “remains as erroneous and full of discrepancies as its earlier version.”
Mati said a closer look at the resubmitted Supplementary Estimates shows that even as the printed estimates error was corrected a “completely new set of errors and discrepancies has been introduced into the current Recurrent and Development Estimates.”
But Finance PS Joseph Kinyua would not be drawn to speak about it.
“Oh no, I’m not talking to you…No! No! No” Kinyua said when The Standard reached him on the telephone.
According to Mars Group, the variances between the revisions contained in the first and the second versions of the Supplementary Budget cannot “be a computer error but a deliberate parlance in cooking up figures.”
Last week Parliament passed the Supplementary Estimates, giving the Government a go ahead to spend the money.
Speaker Kenneth Marende directed that the motion for consideration of the of the estimates for the year 2008/2009 approved by the House in April 29 pursuant to Standing Order No.156 stood valid and that the House could proceed to transact the Supplementary Appropriation Bill 2009.
The Finance minister then presented to the House the two Supplementary Estimates — the Recurrent Expenditure 2008/2009 and the Supplementary Estimates Development Expenditure 2008/2009.
Uhuru then told Parliament that the earlier estimates had been withdrawn and that what he was presenting would supersede the estimates table in the House on April 22.
But Mati said recommendations made by the Joint Committee of the Budget Committee and the Finance Committee had not been followed.
The joint committee recommended an independent forensic audit, and the estimates withdrawn from the House and the Fiscal Management Bill be approved and enacted as a matter of urgency.
Mati says that in moving the “corrected” Supplementary Estimates, the minister implied that Clause 2 of the Bill provided for issuance from the Consolidated Fund of Sh26,251,311,790 and to appropriate the funds for various services and purposes during the financial year ending 30th January 2009.
“This cannot be true. If one adds up all the revisions of supply taken directly from schedule one of the Supplementary Appropriations, then the figure in Clause 2 ought to be Sh26,087,512,713,” said Mati.
Another contested item is the aid to be applied in the recurrent expenditure of Sh4,628,325,694, whereas manual calculations of the vote-by-vote sub totals of expected appropriations in aid totaled Sh4,488,352,694. The difference is inflation on the expected income by Sh139,973,000.
Another grey area was the appropriation in aid of development expenditure worth Sh5.2 billion, whereas the manual calculation for the same was Sh6.06billion.
Mati, who raised the alarm in the first estimates that were tabled in the Parliament, said the minister made changes to the revised estimates without amending the Supplementary Appropriations Bill 2009, raising the prospect that Parliament had approved sums not detailed in any law, and creating a loophole for misappropriation of public funds.
The Sh10.7b errors are affecting 211 lines items from 36 ministries.
The Chairman of Parliamentary Budget Committee, Mr Martin Ogindo, said last night he is yet figure out any discrepancies in the Supplementary Budget although the committee was scrutinising the estimates.
“I need to appreciate the discrepancy first before I can comment, but it would be a tragedy if it there,” Mr Ogindo told The Standard.
Turkana Central MP Ekwe Ethuro said he had no knowledge of the error but added that it would be shocking if indeed a discrepancy exists.
“When there was an error in the Supplementary Estimates last time, the minister assured us they (the minister and Treasury officials) would be more careful next time. I’ll therefore be surprised if this error exists,” said Ethuro, who is also a member of the Budget committee.
He blamed such mistakes on failure to give Parliament capacity to scrutinise the Budget process.
The Parliamentary Investments Committee Chairman Mithika Linturi said he was not aware of the discrepancy, but added that if it was true then Uhuru should take the blame.
Siakago MP Lenny Kivuti discounted any possibility of an error in the estimates, and dismissed Mars Group as publicity seekers.
He said: “Even assuming there were printing errors again, it would be wrong to blame it on the minister. He does not write the figures.”
Kamukunji MP Simon Mbugua said this was an attempt by some people to sabotage Uhuru.
Kenya: What Kenya Could Learn From Rwanda On One Laptop Per Child
By Gitura Mwaura, 17 April 2013
Rwanda set the pace for the region with the launch in September 2008, of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) programme targeting primary school pupils in Standard Four to Six (P4 – P6).
Kenya is following suit with the new Government’s plan to issue laptops to school children, following a campaign promise in the recent presidential elections.
Implementation will begin with Standard One pupils next year, of whom 700,000 are expected to enroll for the class of 2014.
The first lesson is that, even if only half this number gets a laptop within the first year, it will be quite a feat.
Rwanda had a total primary school population of just over 2.3 million as of 2011. As of September 2012, exactly four years after the launch, according to the Rwanda Education Board, there were about 115,000 computers in primary schools across the country.
The aim is to have half a million of the laptops distributed, and at least one million by 2017.
At least one school in each of the 416 sectors in Rwanda is expected to get the laptops. A sector is the equivalent of a sub-district or division in Kenya.
Rwanda’s situation is no different from much of East Africa. Uptake for the laptops could be better, except for two main reasons.
The first major reason is inadequate infrastructure, especially electricity supply to schools. The OLPC laptops are mainly operated using electricity, while many schools are yet to be connected to the national grid. Efforts are, however, under way to install solar electricity in as many schools are possible.
The second is inadequate capacity, in terms of numbers and computer literacy, of the primary school teachers. As of May 2012, the OLPC Project had trained just over 1,500 teachers and heads of school-not only in computer literacy, but in troubleshooting hardware, software and applications.
There is good reason for such technical training of the teachers. Computers often tend to break down for one reason or another, especially in the hands of children. Giving the teachers the ability to diagnose what the problem is likely to be, and how to fix it, is crucial.
Empowering the teachers with the technical capacity will ensure a smooth running of such a mass computer project.
Kenya has a primary school population of over 8.5 million pupils, according to the available figures. Only 5 per cent of public primary schools have computers.
Caution has already been urged before the laptop project is implemented in Kenya. It has already been pointed out that the imminent laptop project may not be viable without first addressing teachers’ computer literacy, including the woefully inadequate school infrastructure in much of the country, and ensuring the computers are loaded with relevant curriculum.
This includes addressing issues of poverty that tend to hinder access to education. A significant number of school-going children in Kenya lack basic needs, including food and clothes, which has raised questions of feasibility for such an ambitious project.
While the promise is for a solar powered laptop for the Kenyan children, there have also been concerns by early childhood educationists about the merits of giving laptops to Standard One pupils as opposed to, say, Standard Four pupils who are a bit more “mature” to use the computers more efficiently.
There are also questions of the educational impact of the computers in terms of improved test scores by school children, of which many doubts have been raised borrowing examples from other countries.
These issues will need to be addressed. But it leads to this: in its potency, would the laptop for the school-going child merely be a symbol of Kenya’s or Rwanda’s ambition to turn itself into a knowledge-based economy?
We know that the free laptop will provide the only avenue for disadvantaged children to computer literacy in an increasingly globalised world, while it is possible the computers could be customised to suit the needs of a child.
Enjoy Mama Ruto who takes care of your sewage when blocked >She earns peaunutworking day and night-shifts>this is Kenya where everybody thinks with butts!
In the Kenyan Cauldron
May 9, 2013
One morning in mid-March, at the beginning of the Kenyan rainy season, I drove to Kiambu, the ancestral homeland of Uhuru Kenyatta, the country’s newly elected president. Thirty minutes northeast of Nairobi I turned off a new six-lane highway and followed a country road across a fertile plateau. Coffee bushes glistened after a morning rainfall. Banana trees and plots of maize climbed the slopes of ravines. Mile after mile of new streetlamps bordered the road. “It is rare to see these lights in rural Kenya,” my companion, a reporter named Dominic Wabala, told me, attributing the local improvements in part to Kenyatta’s huge fortune.
Soon we came to Ichaweri, near the birthplace of Kenyatta’s father, Jomo Kenyatta, the rebel leader and first president of Kenya, who died in 1978. The thirty-one-acre farm is one of many valuable properties that Kenyatta accumulated during his fourteen-year presidency. A driveway led to the guarded front gate, which was flanked by traditional Kenyan shields—black, red, and white ovals crossed by two spears—mounted on stone pillars. A fig tree, or mugomo, considered sacred by the Kikuyus—the Kenyattas’ tribe, which led the Mau-Mau uprising against Britain in the 1950s and which makes up about 22 percent of Kenya’s population—towered over the entrance. The Kenyatta family’s farmhouse, topped by an orange-tile roof, stood half-hidden behind a thick hedge. “It is best not to stop here,” Wabala told me, as I slowed down for a longer look. Wabala was worried that we might be detained and interrogated by the Kenyattas’ round-the-clock guards.
Just up the road in Gatundu, I spoke with Francis Maina, a journalist and an ardent Kenyatta supporter. He said that Kenyatta, the member of Parliament from the area, often dipped into his own pocket to help needy constituents. Once, Maina said, he flew a dying girl and her mother to India so that the girl could have heart surgery. “He piped water to the villages, built health centers, got poor families scholarships,” using both his own money and a discretionary fund provided to all members of Parliament, he told me. During the election campaign, Kenyatta’s opponents attacked him for holding an inequitable share of the country’s wealth. In a country plagued by a hunger for land, the Kenyatta family’s holdings are said to be the equivalent of Nyanza Province, a 6,200-square-mile region around Lake Victoria in western Kenya. Maina said that the allegation was “garbage…. People have been duped into believing that.”
Since independence in 1963, Kenya’s politics has been largely based on competition as well as alliances among the country’s four dozen tribes. Besides the biggest, the Kikuyu, they include the Luhya, who comprise about 14 percent of the total population; the Kalenjin, 13 percent; and the Luo, 10 percent. The tribes speak their own languages among themselves and have their own hierarchies of leadership, but they also participate in national politics. It has been customary for Kenya’s leaders to favor members of their own ethnic groups with land, import licenses, and other perks—and to shut out nearly everyone else. After the original uprising against the British was led by the Kikuyus, Jomo Kenyatta, as first president, made many of his fellow Kikuyus rich before he died in 1978. He was succeeded by his vice-president, Daniel Arap Moi, a Kalenjin from the Rift Valley, whose twenty-four-year autocratic rule was marked by alliances with other Rift Valley ethnic groups, as well as the pastoral Massai tribe, and the near-exclusion of the Kikuyus.
Moi was forced into retirement in 2002, and, following Kenya’s first free presidential election, power passed back into the hands of the Kikuyus under the new president, Mwai Kibaki. He remained in office for a decade, also enriching his Kikuyu tribal allies and excluding rival groups. Kenya’s new constitution of 2010 limited its president to two five-year terms, which set the stage for the 2013 election, pitting Jomo Kenyatta’s son, Uhuru, against Raila Odinga, a longtime opposition leader from the Luo tribe.
Kenya’s presidential election in March was supposed to display the country’s progress into the modern, post-tribal era—and Kenyatta, fifty-one, was said to symbolize a transformation. Photogenic and rich, a graduate of Amherst, he is part of a new generation of Kenyan elite who drive their SUVs and Mercedeses on Nairobi’s new superhighways, and sip cappuccinos at establishments such as Artcaffé in the city’s sleek shopping malls.
In diplomatic cables from June 2009 released by WikiLeaks, the US ambassador to Kenya, Michael Ranneberger, praised Kenyatta as a potential reformer. His “enormous” wealth would obviate the need for him to indulge in corruption. Ranneberger noted that Kenyatta “drinks too much” and “is not a hard worker,” but is “bright and charming, even charismatic.” Maina Kiai, the director of InformAction, a grassroots organization founded in 2010, and the former chairman of the Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights, who has known Kenyatta for years, says he “laughs, cracks jokes, drinks a lot. He is almost a hedonist. He is like George Bush before he became saved.”
Yet Kenyatta has been shadowed by a darker reputation. In March 2011 he was indicted by the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity; he was accused of organizing and funding the murders, rapes, and displacements of thousands of his opponents—many from other tribes—in the aftermath of Kenya’s December 2007 election, which was won by his political ally, Mwai Kibaki, a fellow Kikuyu. (Raila Odinga, from the Luo tribe, was the loser.) It was alleged in complaints to the ICC that Kenyatta was outraged by a wave of attacks that had been carried out against Kikuyus after Kibaki was reelected under suspicious circumstances, and that Kenyatta turned to violent criminal gangs of Kikuyu youths to exact revenge. Despite dozens of filings by Kenyatta’s lawyers aimed at stopping or slowing down the judicial process, his trial in The Hague is scheduled to begin in July.
This raises the unsettling prospect that the leader of one of Africa’s most important nations—the regional headquarters of the United Nations and World Bank, and a listening post for monitoring al-Shabab, the beleaguered but still dangerous al-Qaeda affiliate in neighboring Somalia—will have to conduct the country’s business while answering charges from the dock. Raila Odinga, the sixty-eight-year-old opposition leader, who mounted an unsuccessful challenge to Kenyatta in this year’s election, said during a televised debate, “I know it’s going to cause serious challenges to run the government by Skype from The Hague.”
Kenyatta’s indictment and the showdown with the ICC are uneasy reminders of a past that Kenyans would rather forget. For all of his modern trappings, say his critics, Kenyatta is in many ways a throwback to his predecessors: his father; Daniel Arap Moi, the country’s dictator for twenty-four years; and Moi’s successor, Mwai Kibaki. All three presidents favored their own ethnic kin at the expense of other tribes, and all helped sow the seeds of the 2007–2008 bloodletting. “His approach is, get your home crowd behind you, and then start talking and negotiating with others,” says Maina Kiai. “If you first make sure you are ethnic king, then you will always place your constituency first. That is not the definition of a reformer.”
Kenyatta himself has not been seeing any foreign reporters, I was told. One sunny afternoon, I sat on the terrace of a Lebanese-Japanese restaurant with one of the president-elect’s closest friends. He was talking to me at the request of a London-based public relations firm, BTP Advisers, which Kenyatta had hired to play down the controversy surrounding his indictment. (Among BTP Advisers’ other clients is Paul Kagame, the Rwandan president, who has been accused, among much else, of backing a rebel group responsible for human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.) Kenyatta was vacationing at a family villa on the coast near Mombasa, and “isn’t yet ready to do interviews,” managing partner Mark Pursey had told me.
The friend I talked to, who asked not to be identified, came to know Kenyatta in the early 1970s at St. Mary’s School, a private day school founded by the Catholic Archdiocese of Nairobi in 1939. Set on eighty-five wooded acres in the affluent Lavington neighborhood, the school attracts the sons and daughters of Kenyan cabinet ministers, high-ranking civil servants, and ambassadors. (Kenyatta was raised a Catholic by his mother, but the school is open to all.) Kenyatta was remembered as a charming, popular student who played rugby, served as a prefect, and socialized on weekends with a tight-knit group of fellow privileged youths, sometimes at State House, the sprawling villa on a hill above Nairobi from which his father ruled. In 1980, two years after his father’s death, Uhuru Kenyatta left Kenya to attend Amherst.
At Amherst, Kenyatta shared an off-campus apartment with three other Kenyan students, studied economics and politics, and took an interest in third-world development. Kenyatta gave little evidence of his lineage, except for the photo of his father that hung in his room. He drove a secondhand Toyota that he had purchased for $2,000, and frequently was visited by his younger brother, Muhoho, who was attending Williams, as well as his mother, Mama Ngina, who would fly in from Kenya and stay for a month at a local hotel. During Thanksgiving and spring breaks, Kenyatta and his roommates invited to Amherst Kenyan students from around the US who had nowhere else to spend their holidays, charging them $20 each for “booze and food.” Some students balked. “Uhuru didn’t like controversy, so he would say, ‘You take care that,’” remembers one of his roommates.
Kenyatta returned to Kenya in the mid-1980s and helped reorganize the family businesses, selling off land and developing Brookside, a dairy company, and Wilham Kenya Ltd., which has grown into one of Kenya’s biggest horticultural firms. His first entry into politics came in 1990, after the Kalenjin Daniel Arap Moi jailed a prominent Kikuyu businessman, Kenneth Matiba, who had challenged one-party rule. “We all knew Matiba personally,” Kenyatta’s friend told me. “He was a father figure to us, a close friend of our parents…. We said, ‘listen, this is getting out of hand.’” Kenyatta and several other sons of Kenyan leaders published an open letter in newspapers addressed to Moi, calling, the close friend said, “for multiparty democracy.” Maina Kiai has a different recollection. He says there was no mention of multipartyism in the letter: “They were scared shitless of Moi. They did not go as far as they should have.”
Moi did agree to multiparty elections in 1992, then employed fraud and intimidation to guarantee himself a victory. He also recognized Kenyatta as an up-and-comer—an influential Kikuyu whom he needed to have on his side. After Kenya’s independence in 1963, Jomo Kenyatta had expropriated land in the Rift Valley and moved many Kikuyus to the region. Local ethnic groups, including Moi’s Kalenjins, sometimes attacked the Kikuyu interlopers and drove them from their land. Moi and his party, the Kenya African National Union (KANU), had little Kikuyu support.
In 1997, Kenyatta ran unsuccessfully for Parliament in his home constituency as the candidate of KANU. (Even though it was a predominantly Kikuyu district, his association with Moi caused him to go down in humiliating defeat.) Five years later, Moi was obliged to step down after a quarter-century in power, and he backed Kenyatta as KANU’s presidential candidate against Mwai Kibaki, the consensus candidate of a broad opposition movement, and another Kikuyu.
During this campaign in 2002, I was told, Kenyatta had the support of a secretive, violent Kikuyu organization—the Mungiki—that had originated in rural areas in the 1980s and migrated to Nairobi a few years later. The Mungiki operated protection rackets in the slums, recruited boys with absent fathers, and administered blood oaths to new members. “The Mungiki are wild guys, village thugs, who extort more from the Kikuyu than from anyone else,” Kenyatta’s friend told me. During the 2002 campaign, according to witnesses, the Mungiki held at least one large demonstration in Nairobi in support of Kenyatta. Although the government regarded the Mungiki as criminals, “Moi allowed them to operate freely as part of his strategy to have Kikuyus support Uhuru as his candidate,” says Ndung’u Wainaina, director of the International Center for Policy and Conflict in Nairobi.
Kibaki won handily, and Kenyatta entered Parliament as the leader of the opposition. Meanwhile, ethnic tensions were growing. Kibaki filled his cabinet with fellow Kikuyus—known as “the Mount Kenya Mafia”—who were eager to enjoy the spoils of power after years of being excluded by Moi. During Kibaki’s tenure, one of the worst financial scandals in Kenyan history took place, the so-called Anglo Leasing scheme. Close associates of Kibaki siphoned hundreds of millions of dollars from the Kenyan treasury through inflated no-bid contracts to a phantom corporation. Kalenjins, Luos, and other groups were left out in the cold.
On December 30, 2007, the Kenyan Electoral Commission declared Kibaki, the incumbent, the winner over the Luo Raila Odinga in the just-completed presidential election. International observers said that they had been denied access to polling stations, and there were widespread and credible reports of extensive ballot box s tuffing, falsification of returns, and other instances of fraud. Kibaki was hastily sworn in as president, and ethnic violence opposing him broke out. Many Luos (the tribe of Barack Obama’s father) believed that they had been robbed of a victory, and mobs of young Luo men with crude weapons began attacking Kikuyus in the Rift Valley and other areas.
The Waki Report, a comprehensive study of the violence released in the fall of 2008, quoted a Kikuyu survivor in the town of Eldoret:
Some Nandi [a Rift Valley ethnic group] were running after people on the road. I ran away with my children. I saw a man being killed by cutting with a panga and hit by clubs when I was running…. My last born child fell a distance away from my arm, was hurt, and was crying. Some people were running after me and when I fell, two men caught me. They tore my panties and they both raped me in turn.
Harun Ndubi, an attorney and a human rights activist in Nairobi, told me that in early January 2008, while Luos and their tribal allies were hunting down Kikuyus and killing them, he met with James Maina Kabutu, a self-described member of the Mungiki who was now willing to denounce both the secret organization and Kenyatta. Maina Kabutu claimed that he had attended meetings in State House between Mungiki leaders and high-ranking politicians, including Kenyatta, to plan the retaliatory killings of Luos and Kalenjins. “He also mentioned that Uhuru had funded some of the Mungiki people [and had] participated in a meeting [with the Mungiki] at the Nairobi Club,” a private club established in 1901 and popular among Kenya’s governmental elite.
Human Rights Watch says that in January 2008 the Mungiki hacked Luos and others to death in the Rift Valley’s main town, Nakuru. They forcibly circumcised others, and burned to death nineteen people, including women and children, in a house in Naivasha. More than five hundred people died in the Mungiki-sponsored violence. The close friend of Kenyatta’s acknowledges that the organization regarded him as their “spiritual leader.” But he says that in speeches in Limuru and elsewhere, Kenyatta urged people not to retaliate: “He was telling people that it can’t be an eye for an eye.” Maina Kabutu fled to Tanzania, then to the United States, where in a sworn statement before the International Criminal Court he said that Mungiki had been deployed to the Rift Valley and other areas “to defend our people.”
In March 2011 the International Criminal Court indicted Uhuru Kenyatta, then serving as finance minister, and three other Kenyan political figures for the violence of 2007 and 2008. The indictment drew on the testimony of several eyewitnesses, including Maina Kabutu. The charges said that there are reasonable grounds to believe that indeed Kenyatta…organized and facilitated, on several occasions, meetings between powerful pro-[Party of National Unity] figures and representatives of the Mungiki.
In addition, Kenyatta “supervised the preparation and coordination of the Mungiki in advance of the attack [and] contributed money towards the retaliatory attack perpetrated by the Mungiki in the Rift Valley.”
In the months before the March 2013 election, Kenyatta portrayed the ICC as a tool of Western governments. He exploited Kenyans’ growing pride in their country and lingering resentment about interference by the United States and Great Britain. In a bold stroke, Kenyatta chose as his running mate William Ruto, a charismatic Kalenjin who had been indicted by the ICC for organizing attacks against Kikuyus in the post-election killing spree. The pair presented their Jubilee Alliance as a gesture of reconciliation, though one observer I talked to said they believed it would “inoculate” them against an ICC trial. The court, they believed, was unlikely to defy the will of the Kenyan people by arresting its two elected leaders.
One month before the election, the US Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson warned Kenyan voters that “choices have consequences.” The warning, observers say, backfired. “Kenyans were saying to themselves, ‘Why should we be dictated to?,’” I was told by Mwenda Njoka, the managing editor of The Standard, one of Kenya’s largest daily newspapers. The journalist I met in Gatundu, Francis Maina, summed up the attitude of Kenyatta supporters toward the court. “The charges are framed up,” Maina told me. “The masters, the Western powers, have a desire to meddle in Kenya’s affairs.”
Kenyatta’s defenders included Jendayi Frazer, who served as US assistant secretary of state for African affairs at the time of the 2007 election, and who has become an opponent of the International Criminal Court. The ICC, she told me, was being used by the US and British governments to undermine Kenyatta and strengthen Raila Odinga, their preferred candidate. “The US government, which is not even a signatory to the ICC, uses this flap around Kenyatta’s head to say that the Kenyan people should not elect him, and that’s inappropriate,” she said.
Frazer insisted that the ICC had no business looking into a matter that should have been the responsibility of a domestic court. “You don’t want to minimize the number of people who lost their lives,” says Frazer, “but post-election violence of a few weeks is not on the scale of genocide.” As it happened, Kenya’s Parliament had refused to authorize an independent special tribunal to investigate the post-electoral violence, a failure blamed by US Ambassador Ranneberger on Kenyatta’s “working behind the scenes” to undermine the initiative.
On a rainy afternoon, ten days after the presidential election, I wandered through the Nairobi slum called Kibera, one of the largest in East Africa and a stronghold of Raila Odinga. Kenyatta’s victory, certified by the electoral commission, was facing legal challenges by Odinga and several independent groups, and Kenyans were waiting for the Supreme Court to decide whether to nullify the result and call for a new vote. I parked the car on a muddy lane near the primary school where Odinga had voted, and walked past a tin-roofed market and a shabby cybercafé. In front of a stand for matatus—Kenya’s ubiquitous, unregulated minibuses—I met a driver, Moses Otieno Oguto, from the province of Nyanza, Odinga’s birthplace. In January 2008, after Kibaki declared himself the winner, Oguto had watched police shoot down Luo protesters in the alleys of Kibera. “People died in front of me,” he said. “I don’t want this to happen again.”
Kenya’s election was supposed to be a showcase for the technological advances that the country had made, as well as its commitment to transparency. A broad-based new electoral commission introduced features including biometric voter identification kits and an instantaneous reporting system by which officials at each of Kenya’s 33,000 polling stations could dispatch the results by mobile phones over a secure server to a central registry in Nairobi. But the entire system crashed on election day, forcing officials to revert to old methods: tabulating the votes on paper registration sheets, and sending them by courier to Nairobi. Odinga and his supporters claimed that many of the sheets were tampered with, and also charged that Kenyatta made use of thousands of phantom voters, allowing him to push his total to just above 50 percent.
I asked Oguto, the matatu driver, how the residents of Kibera would react if the Supreme Court ratified Kenyatta’s victory. “There won’t be problems this time,” he assured me. In the same breath, he admitted, “I do not trust Uhuru, but there is nothing that I can do.”
“We trust Uhuru,” a Kikuyu driver, who gave his name only as Ronald, shot back.
“We don’t,” said another Luo. “We refuse to trust him.”
Wabala, the journalist, pushed me into our vehicle as the men argued. “Kenyans are seething inside,” Wabala told me. “It is a time bomb waiting for a trigger.” According to the Daily Nation, Kenya’s mobile phone companies were scrutinizing text messages for inflammatory words such as “kill,” and were blocking 300,000 “hate texts” per day.
On Saturday, March 30, Kenya’s Supreme Court certified Kenyatta’s victory. There was a smattering of protests, but Odinga accepted the verdict and the country remained quiet. Many Kenyans wondered whether the ICC fracas would blow over. “Witness Number Four”—James Maina Kabutu—a key figure in the case against Kenyatta, had recanted his testimony. ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda had been obliged to drop all charges against one of Kenyatta’s co-defendants, Francis Muthaura, the head of security forces at the time of the 2007–2008 violence. Kenyatta’s allies were predicting that the case against him would soon collapse. “It is a weak case and it always has been,” Jendayi Frazer told me. At The Hague, Bensouda insisted that she still had enough evidence to prosecute Kenyatta.
Harun Ndubi, the human rights lawyer, told me that he wasn’t surprised by the turn of events. Maina Kabutu had called him often in recent years, and “told me that he was being threatened, he was pressed by Mungiki people who said they knew where his mother lived, and did he want to see his mother’s head in an envelope.” Western diplomats say that the Kenyatta camp has been tracking down witnesses, trying to intimidate them, and, more often, buying their silence. Kenyatta’s allies dismiss the allegations as groundless.
When I met with Maina Kiai, the founder of the Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights, at a café, he told me that he feared that Kenyatta would start cutting back the reforms—including the freedom to oppose the rulers—that have changed the face of the country since the collapse of Moi’s one-party state in the early 1990s. “We can see them circling the wagons, telling foreign journalists to get out, saying that civil society is evil,” he told me. “We fear a crackdown.”
Kenyatta, meanwhile, flew back from the beach to prepare for his inauguration on April 9, in a stadium on the city’s outskirts, amid evidence that a diplomatic thaw had already begun. On March 30, following the Supreme Court decision, British Prime Minister David Cameron’s office issued a statement congratulating Kenyatta. The prime minister, the statement said, “looked forward to working with the President-elect’s new Government to build on [our] partnership, and to help realise the great potential of a united Kenya.” It was a telling shift from weeks earlier, when the British government stuck to a policy of no more than “essential contact” only with the men indicted by the ICC, and after Kenyatta’s victory on March 4, refused even to mention his name.
—April 10, 2013
How pledge on free laptops can be achieved
By Albert Mwangi
Posted Thursday, April 18 2013
When the Jubilee alliance was launching its manifesto last year, its flag bearer Uhuru Kenyatta made a promise to provide free laptops to all primary school pupils joining Class One.
Kenyans have learnt to take election promises with a pinch of salt as they rarely ever come to fruition. Jubilee is now in government and Mr Kenyatta is president.
All eyes are now on him to see if he will keep the promise. Fortunately, providing the laptops is a tenable project for the Jubilee government.
However, they will not be swanky state-of-the-art laptops which cost a fortune. They will be small, hardy, plastic-covered machines with basic computing technology.
The machines will be dirt and moisture-resistant as well as have pre-installed open source software. They will also use little electricity and could be hand-powered. This will give pupils a powerful tool for learning no matter what part of the country they live in.
I place my bet on the government acquiring the $100 laptop — an inexpensive sub-notebook computer that was built by the One Laptop per Child Association (OLPCA), an NGO based in the US.
The technology was created for children in developing countries. Its goal is to provide children with knowledge and opportunities to explore, experiment, and learn.
The intention is to provide basic building blocks for pupils to make forays into the world of information technology. Countries in South America have adopted the technology. In Uruguay, for example, pupils receive the free laptops.
Critics of the laptops promise have questioned the source of funding for such an enormous undertaking and whether the pledge makes sense in a country where provision of food, clothing, books, and basic classroom facilities is more realistic.
After all, we live in a country where more than half of the population lives in poverty. However, this does not stop us from working towards achieving bigger goals such as envisioned in the Vision 2030 blueprint.
Providing tools such as laptops does not stop the government from delivering basic needs to pupils. Focus on short-term benefits and long-term goals should work hand in hand otherwise the country risks losing out on benefits of information technology.
Mr Mwangi is a communication specialist with an international NGO
This guy must be a western imperialist (mole) agent in Kenya !N ow appointed by Uhuru Kenyatta to serve in his government!Kweli Kenya iko Vituko>Dr. Fred Matiangi, Chief of Party, Parliamentary Strengthening Project, Kenya:
Dr. Fred Matiangi is one of the world’s foremost experts on the Kenyan legislature. He has more than 12 years experience in democratic development, the last six years of which have been with the Kenya Parliamentary Strengthening Project, serving first as the Deputy Director & Senior Program Officer and, for the last three years, as Chief of Party. Dr. Matiangi serves as a liaison between the LSP, USAID/Kenya, and the Parliament of Kenya and has demonstrated an extraordinary ability to secure stakeholder buy-in, facilitate program objectives, and deliver high-quality technical assistance.
The Failure of One Laptop Per Child
by Audrey Watters on 09 Apr, 2012
“25 million laptops later,” Mashable announced today, “One Laptop Per Child doesn’t increase test scores.” “Error Message,” reads the headline from The Economist: “A disappointing return from an investment in computing.”
The tenor of these stories feels like a grand “Gotcha!” for ed-tech: It’s shiny stuff, sure, but it offers no measurable gains in “student achievement.” So while the OLPC project might have been a good idea, so the story goes, it is not a good investment.
One Laptop Per Child was a good idea, a noble and ambitious one at that. Originally proposed in 2006, OLPC aimed to build an inexpensive laptop that would be sold to governments in the developing world and made available in turn to the children in those countries via their respective ministries of education. Easier said than done. Over the course of the past 6 years, the OLPC has fussed with hardware and software specs, finally building a laptop (and now, a tablet) that costs $200 (twice that of the originally promised price).
In the meantime, much of the developing world has experienced its own mobile computing revolution. There are now a number of manufacturers working on low-cost devices for that market. There’s the Intel Classmates PC, for example (with similar hardware, but more expensive software than its OLPC coursin); there’s the Worldreader project (it delivers villages a library full of e-books via Kindles); and there’s the now-infamous Aakash tablet (which was sold in India for $35 but with its reliability and functionality very much in question).
Arguably more significant than the competition OLPC faces from these low-cost tablets and netbooks: 95% of the world’s population now owns a cellphone, by some estimates (See Wikipedia’s list of mobile phone penetration, broken down by country). Of course, a clamshell phone is hardly the same as a laptop. One has SMS; the other, a command line. Nonetheless, the ubiquity of the cellphone makes it clear that the value proposition of the OLPC device needs to be more than just “access” and “connectivity.”
The mission of the non-profit organization always stressed something broader, bigger — One Laptop per Child meant empowerment, engagement, and education:
We aim to provide each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop. To this end, we have designed hardware, content and software for collaborative, joyful, and self-empowered learning. With access to this type of tool, children are engaged in their own education, and learn, share, and create together. They become connected to each other, to the world and to a brighter future.
No mention of improving standardized test scores in there, you’ll notice. No talk of “student achievement.” “The best preparation for children,” according to the OLPC website isn’t test prep. It is “to develop the passion for learning and the ability to learn how to learn.”
Standardized test scores in math and in language do not reflect “the ability to learn how to learn” — they don’t even purport to. But we fixate on test scores nevertheless. It is worth noting here that the study that prompted today’s headlines about OLPC’s “disappointing” test results — one conducted by the Inter-American Development Bank using data collected from some 300 primary schools in rural Peru — did find some improvement in students’ cognitive skills (as in, “the ability to learn how to learn”).
The study links that boost in cognitive skills to “increased interaction with technology.” Make of that what you will. The study also found that having access to computers increases your access to computers. To quote Keanu Reeves here, “Whoa.”
The study points out other things too, and it asks “Could stricter adherence to the OLPC principles have brought about better academic outcomes?” Many students were not allowed to take their laptops home. Internet access was “practically non-existent.” Just 70% of teachers had 40-hours of professional development before their students were given the devices.
That last (missing) piece — training for teachers — has long been something that gets overlooked when it comes to ed-tech initiatives no matter the location, Peru or the U.S. It is almost as if we believe we can simply parachute technology in to a classroom and expect everyone to just pick it up, understand it, use it, hack it, and prosper.
Oh right. OLPC has done just that, a la The Gods Must Be Crazy, whereby tablets were quite literally dropped into villages from helicopters. Okay, not everyone receives their devices this way, but OLPC has always been fairly hands-off in its training implementation efforts. It’s one of the major criticisms that the organization has faced (along with criticisms about price, hardware, software, and environmental sustainability).
For his part, Nicholas Negroponte, the head of the OLPC foundation, frequently points to the work of Sugata Mitra and the “Hole in the Wall Project” as inspiration — the belief that children can learn (and teach each other) on their own. Children are naturally inquisitive; they are ingenious. Access to an Internet-enabled computing device is sufficient. They will “figure it out.”
It’s part of what Mitra and Negroponte call a “minimally invasive education.” Considering the colonial legacy of education systems in the developing world, avoiding “invasion” seems profoundly important.
But there remains a strange tension between dropping in a Western technological “solution” and insisting doing so is “non-invasive.” At it’s best, the OLPC represents a desire to support literacy, connectivity and learning through technology. But it does those things in a world of ubiquitous cellphones, which on their own have not transformed education either. In an effort to be “non-invasive” then, OLPC ends up often being unsupportive — unsupportive of the tech, the teachers and the learners.
But is that failure? It doesn’t feel like pointing to standardized test scores in math and language is the right measure at all to gauge this. It goes against the core of the OLPC mission. But then again, these measurements are political, not necessarily pedagogical. And these scores reveal less about the global reach or potential of technology, and more about the dominant narratives of the U.S. education system: “what counts” as learning, and “what counts” in terms of ed-tech’s role in delivering or enabling it — why, standardized test scores, of course.
Using ICT to make a successful education system even better in Korea
Over the past half-century, Korea has transformed from a developing nation into a leading industrial economy, thanks largely to its success in raising educational standards. In Korea’s highly competitive society, families place high value on education and students show strong commitment to learning. A dynamic private sector complements public schooling with rapid responses to students’ individual needs.
Government policies support education with above-average spending. After making elementary education mandatory in the 1950s, the Korean government took steps to widen educational opportunities for middle and high school students during the 1960s and 1970s, thus ensuring that more students could benefit from quality public education. In the 1990s, Korean authorities were quick to recognize the potential of ICT in education, launching a master plan to develop ICT infrastructure with one PC per teacher and Internet access in all classrooms. Subsequent strategies have set out to enhance education quality by providing open access to content and by training teachers to integrate ICT into classroom teaching.
A major objective of successive administrations has been to reduce inequalities in access to education, and ICT is seen as key to achieving that goal. In 2005, complementing services provided nationwide by Korea’s Educational Broadcasting System, the government launched a Cyber Home Learning System that gives students home access to digital tutoring. In 2011, building on pilot projects launched in 2007, it announced a $2.4 billion strategy to digitize the nation’s entire school curriculum by 2015.
At the core of this ambitious project, dubbed ‘Smart Education’, is the implementation of ‘digital textbooks’ — interactive versions of traditional textbooks that can be constantly updated in real time. Digital textbooks contain a combination of textbooks, reference books, workbooks, dictionaries and multimedia content such as video clips, animations, and virtual-reality programmes that can be tailored to students’ abilities and interests. Students can underline sections, take notes, reorganise pages and create hyperlinks to online material.
Taking advantage of Korea’s strong digital sector, the project will involve the installation of wireless networks in all schools and the creation of a digitized education system that will run on a range of equipment including PCs, laptops, tablet PCs and smart TVs. Policy makers say it is designed to respond to 21st century education challenges by moving from uniform and standardized education to diversified, creativity-based learning.
Korean students already have extensive familiarity with digital devices for social and recreational purposes, and their aptitude for handling digital material was demonstrated by their top-ranking performance in the PISA 2009 digital reading test. By making access to new learning modes available to all, ‘Smart Education’ will help to bridge the education divide between families who can afford to pay for private tutoring and those that can’t. Pilot tests are said to have shown measurable improvements in the performance of students from less well-off families and students in remote areas.
There are still some areas of uncertainty. Some school administrators express concerns about the cost of installing equipment and the need for additional teacher training. Teachers worry about students’ ability to concentrate if smart phones and other digital devices are used in class. Parents express concerns about the effects on students’ health of studying materials on a screen for long periods of time.
But education authorities say they are keeping a close watch on the project in its pilot phase and no adverse effects have yet been identified. Students’ use of ICT devices for social and recreational purposes helps them to develop reactivity and response capabilities useful in academic contexts as well. To mitigate possible equity issues, the government has promised subsidies for equipment purchases for families that are less well-off.
There Are No Technology Shortcuts to Good Education
Computers: The Latest Technology Cycle
Today, computers and mobile phones are the shiny new technologies, and they offer an even more seductive promise. One argument goes that it was the passiveness of older technologies that was the problem, so today’s interactive digital technologies are the perfect solution.
Patrick Suppes, a pioneer in computer-aided learning suggested in 1966 that computers can “adapt mechanical teaching routines to the needs and the past performance of the individual student.” But, neither interactivity nor adaptive capacity are sufficient – the key challenge in education remains the long-term, directed motivation of the student – something which no technology today can deliver on its own, but which good teachers deliver regularly.
Of course, computers are different from radio or television, so if they are able to prove themselves in education, we should use them. Alas, the research on computers in education consistently arrives at a single conclusion, which at its most optimistic could be stated as follows:
Computers can help good schools do some things better, but they do nothing positive for underperforming schools. This means, very specifically, that efforts to fix broken schools with technology or to substitute for missing teachers with technology invariably fail.
Mark Warschauer, the foremost authority on technology in American classrooms, has spent countless hours studying computer projects. He writes of underperforming US schools, “placing computers and Internet connections in low-[income] schools, in and of itself, does little to address the serious educational challenges faced by these schools. To the extent that an emphasis on provision of equipment draws attention away from other important resources and interventions, such an emphasis can in fact be counterproductive.”
And, as for technology’s capacity to even the playing field of education, he says, “the introduction of information and communication technologies in […] schools serves to amplify existing forms of inequality.” This is a specific instance of a broader thesis I argued recently, of technology’s role as an amplifier of existing institutional forces.
In the international arena, and using experimental methodology, economists confirm these findings. In rigorous large-scale studies in both India and Colombia, Leigh Linden at Columbia University found that while PCs can supplement good instruction, PCs are a poor substitute for time with teachers. Furthermore, large-scale computer roll-outs in these countries showed no significant educational outcomes compared against students who didn’t receive computers. He suggests that one problem is that teachers don’t successfully incorporate computers into their curricula. (Nor are teachers to blame – technology programs routinely fail to account for teachers’ needs.)
Ana Santiago and her colleagues at the Inter-American Development Bank find a similar story for a Peruvian One Laptop Per Child program. Three months after a large-scale roll-out, and despite teacher, parent, and student excitement around the technology, students gained nothing in academic achievement. Santiago also notes that even during the initial three months, the novelty factor of the laptops appears to wane, with each week seeing less use of the devices.
None of these results run counter to the few research studies that show how computers can benefit education in limited ways. But, all positive instances of computers in schools are built on strong institutional foundations that are exactly what is deficient where technology is expected to save the day. Without the institutional base, technology’s impact is zero or negative. This should immediately cause anyone hoping to fix an underperforming classroom to cross off technology as any part of the “solution.”
As Wayan Vota notes in a May 2009 ETD article, unless the institutional foundation of teachers and administrators is built and funded properly, technology is pointless. With the lens of motivation, it’s easy to understand why. Bad schools are unable to direct student motivation towards educational goals. Since technology itself requires proper motivation for its benefits to accrue, any school that can’t direct student motivation capably will fail to do so with technology, as well (or worse, allow technology to distract students).
The Cost Implications of Technology Investment
Educators often parrot that “technology is not a panacea,” by which they mean either:
that technology doesn’t cure all educational ills or
that technology alone is insufficient as a solution.
Though these acknowledgments are far better than a blind faith in technology, they still belie hidden, unjustified expectations of technology. The first interpretation suggests that technology cures some maladies in education. But, this is exactly what doesn’t happen – the prevailing evidence shows that technology does not cure unhealthy educational systems; at best, it only augments healthy ones. The second belief is more dangerous because it is factually correct but misleading for policy. It implies that technology can be a good solution as long as other investments are also made; what it leaves out is that if alternate investments of the same magnitude were made to support education directly (and not indirectly to support technology), the educational results could be far greater.
The issues here are cost-effectiveness and opportunity cost. Of course, if the net impact of a technology solution is zero or negative, it’s pointless to implement it however low the cost. But because many educators are tempted by technology’s supposed ability to lower costs, it’s worthwhile to consider actual costs of well-implemented technology.
The most common error in computing costs is to assume that hardware and software are the dominant costs of technology. In reality, the total cost of ownership (TCO) for information technology is comfortably several times the cost of hardware, with a range of 5-10x being a good rule of thumb. Beyond hardware, necessary costs include costs of distribution, maintenance, power infrastructure, teacher training, repair and replacement, and curriculum integration. (In a May 2010 ETD article, Sam Carlson, who unlike me believes in technology for education, nevertheless highlights just how much of an investment teacher training requires.) Additional costs often include connectivity, software development, content production, and end-of-life costs. One analysis by Vital Wave Consulting shows the TCO of an ultra-low-cost PC to be in the $2000-3000 range for developing country schools. A similar analysis by OLPCnews suggests $972 over five years for OLPC (the very optimistic advertised lifespan of an OLPC laptop), and $753 for an OLPC implementation in Nepal (cf., OLPC’s current cost of $188). These figures are per unit, so a one-to-one laptop program would incur these costs per-student.
Though figures like the ones above show otherwise, technology providers eagerly feed technology-cost misconceptions. Nicholas Negroponte, founder of OLPC, has been recently touting a $1-per-week total cost for his laptops. But, a dollar a week doesn’t even pay for the device over three years, which many observers agree is a reasonable estimate of its lifetime. It appears his accounting skills are not on par with his salesmanship. Even at $1 a week, though, the price is out of proportion for many developing-country budgets. The government of India, for example, spends no more than $200 per student per year for primary and secondary school, and most of that expense goes to teacher salaries. And, while literacy rates in India are rising, they remain around 60%. Many other developing countries spend even less, with worse results. Does it make sense to take a quarter or more of a struggling school system’s budget and allocate it to technologies that haven’t even proven themselves?
With respect to costs, it’s worth keeping in mind the opportunity cost of technology. For example, research by economists Ted Miguel, Michael Kremer, and others has conclusively shown the value of 50-cent deworming pills for education. The pills free children of parasites and eliminate one of the dominant reasons for student absenteeism in many developing countries. At a cost of only $3.50 per student (over several years), countries with high incidences of parasites can effectively add the equivalent of an extra year of schooling. Similar results can be had from provision of midday meals, iron supplements, and teaching assistants, and all at a much lower cost than that of computing technology.
As for better teaching, educator Doug Lemov enumerates a series of instructional techniques in his book Teach Like a Champion. The techniques were compiled by Lemov after studying hours upon hours of video of teachers who systematically outperform their peers. Most of the techniques are conceptually simple, but have a dramatic impact on the teacher’s effect in the classroom. For example, when asking a question, Lemov’s recommendation to teachers is to pose the question to the class at large, allow some time to think, and then to randomly call on a student. The technique motivates all of the students to think, since any of them could be put on the spot. In contrast, calling only on students who raise their hand or calling on a student before asking the question allows other students to ignore the question entirely. Such techniques require no additional technology and could easily be incorporated into existing teacher training programs with marginal additional cost.
Speaking of teachers, it should be emphasized over and over that they are the primary agents of good formal education. Without good teachers, education fails; with good teachers, education succeeds.
Technology is largely irrelevant to this equation. As evidence, we only need to consider world-class school systems that consistently churn out high-performing students. The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is the OECD’s latest instrument to measure student performance across countries. 15-year olds are assessed on their reading, math, and science abilities, and the test attempts to measure not just rote learning but some degree of deeper comprehension and critical thinking ability.
Finland is among the countries that routinely perform at the top on PISA, and it is renowned for its low-tech, high-touch approach that emphasizes educational basics and relatively few hours of school or homework. There are also school systems like that of South Korea that use a lot of technology and also do well, but analysis of PISA results fails to show any meaningful correlation between technology use and student performance. (Tim Kelly attempts to use Korea as an argument for technology in schools in a May 2009 ETD article, but that seems an unfortunate confusion of correlation with cause.) Rather, PISA summary documents highlight that the best-performing nations have a political commitment to universal education, high standards for achievement, and quality teachers and principals. Notably absent is any mention of technology as a critical element of a good school system, even though the PISA survey includes data on computers and other educational resources.
None of this should be a surprise. The world had amply demonstrated well before the invention of the personal computer that good education is possible without information technology. Most people born in the 1975 or earlier had no computing in their classrooms, and it would be hard to argue that they suffered as a result; many now lead the world in their respective spheres. Are we to believe that today’s Nobel Laureates, heads of state, and business elite received an inferior education because they were without information technology when growing up?
When Technology in Education is Justified
In order to avoid misunderstanding, I should clarify that some uses of computers in education can be justified, although with the ever-applicable caution that while technology can augment good schools, it hurts poor schools.
First, in those cases where directed student motivation is assured, technology may lessen the burden of teaching. Some cases of tertiary or adult education may fall into this category.
Second, targeted use of computers in schools, for example, as an aid to teach computer literacy, computer programming, or video editing, etc., are important as long as those uses are incorporated only as a small part of a well-rounded curriculum.
Third, technology can help with the administration of schools – record keeping, monitoring, evaluation, etc. – as long as the school system is able to fully support the technology.
Fourth, in richer environments, where the cost of educated labor is relatively high, careful use of well-designed software may have value in fundamental education, particularly for remedial or drilling purposes. Solutions offered by, for example, Carnegie Learning fall into this category, although it should be noted again that effective use of these kinds of technologies must occur in the context of an otherwise well-run school system.
Fifth, again in rich environments, where the basics of education are assured, where teachers are facile with technology, and where budgets are unconstrained, widespread use of technology, even in a one-to-one format, might benefit students. Warschauer does find that certain uses of computers enhance computer literacy and writing skills, but these outcomes are limited to well-run, well-funded schools; they are notably absent in underperforming schools, even in the United States.
I underscore that the last two cases are specific to very wealthy, well-run school systems (as a benchmark, the value is unlikely to emerge for school systems spending less than US$8,000 per student per year), and that none of the positive instances above pertain to underperforming schools or to broad dissemination of technology to students.
If Hague was in Kenya Nairobi >Uhuru Kenyatta And W S Arap Ruto Court Case Files would have disappeared long long ago! (((( Kweli Hague Sio Kwaninya)))!
Swedish schools aim to ditch books by 2013
Published: 1 Feb 12
The Stockholm suburb of Sollentuna plans to get rid its schools of text books entirely by next year in favour of tablet computers like the iPad, but Sweden’s education remained sceptical about the proposal.
Maria Stockhaus, chair of Sollentuna’s children and education board, argued that schools in her municipality are in the ‘backwater’ compared to the rest of society, and that the time has come for three schools in particular to embrace the future.
“The schools will take a step into the now instead of staying in the old days. Computers are as natural in schools as paper and pens, yet the fact that only every other teacher in Sweden has a computer today is completely insane,” she told Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.
Sweden’s education minister Jan Björklund slammed the idea, however, saying that reading books and writing by hand are still relevant today.
“Even in the future people will need to read and write. You can’t always have access to a computer in some places,” he told DN.
“Books have an obvious place in school, and national exams are still written by hand. I predict that they will not follow through with their proposals.”
The Sollentuna municipality has already issued computers to all teachers, and plans to giver every student from 2nd grade and upwards their own touch screen tablet computer.
The schools to be connected are Helenelundsskolan, Sofielundsskolan and Runbacka.
Stockhaus said that the students will not be given paper and pens at all until they are 8 years of age, by which time they will have already had time to acquaint themselves with the touch screen technology.
This, she argued, will set the students up more suitably for the future.
The benefits of assigning individual computers to students are clear, if only in terms of levelling the playing field for families with differing incomes.
“We know that not every student has computer access at home. These students who come from homes with tighter finances have worse grades. An even greater wedge will occur if they do not get the same digital competence as the others,” Stockhaus said.
On top of this, she claimed that the feedback is immediate on a computer, and the students can learn much faster, with less supervision.
The digital upgrade couldn’t come soon enough, according to Stockhaus.
Tegelhagsskolan, another school nearby, already has had complete PC access for three years and its students have consistently excelled.
The investment will cost 16.5 million kronor ($2.45 million) in the start-up phase and 3 million by 2013.
A portion of the costs will be paid by the abolition of textbooks and the switching to digital learning materials.
Challenges Facing the Kenyan School System
The Kenyan school system has undergone many changes since Independence in 1963. A half century later there are still vestiges of the British education system, particularly in the area of pedagogy and management of schools. In defining a new path, Kenya struggles to improve an underfunded school system with school reforms that promise changes in overall structure and curriculum design.
The reality is that not all Kenyan children attend school. Statistics vary as to the data; however, conservative estimates indicate that only 30% achieve the KCPE (Standard 8) and of these only 50 % complete the KCSE (Form 4) levels of achievement. Essentially that means that less than one in five youth will graduate with a secondary school diploma. With 1.2 million children orphaned by the HIV/Aids pandemic, it is clear that only a small percentage will rise above their poor living conditions to obtain the support they need to attend school.
One of the biggest challenges parents face are the tuition costs. A part of it was eliminated in 2003 when Kenya re-introduced free Primary education. However the basic fees of a school uniform, text books, PTA fees, and extracurricular activities remain the family’s obligation. The primary needs of food, nutrition, health and care for younger siblings keep many away from school.
Another challenge for parents is the transportation of their children. Good schools are often a long distance from home. Those with the means send their children to private schools. National, Provincial and District school all have different fee structures. They also vary in the quality of education and overall school environment. High achieving students are often unable to attend schools of choice due to lack of school fees and distances that require residency. In order to attend school many children wake up long before sunrise, returning home late in the evening. After this they still have to do their household chores and if there is a source of light they complete their “school preps”. This leaves no time for children to play and develop in a natural way.
ICT is a key aspect of Kenyan society in terms of economic development. Lack of electricity, computers and funding for school computer labs create a learning deficit in the area of computer studies. Despite efforts by government agencies, NGO, corporate organizations and individuals to donate computers to as many schools as possible, there still remains a big percentage of the schools unable to purchase computers for use by their pupils. Training for the maintenance of computer systems is available but too few technicians and lack of qualified ICT teachers result in broken down computers. Many rural schools are not able to connect to the world wide web, due to the high costs involved in the connectivity. The need for ICT however pales when compared to the need for clean water, health care and basic education.
Among the remnants of the colonial system is the standardized testing that occurs at the end of Standard 8 (Primary) and Form 4 (Secondary). These seek to place students on a level playing field with respect to promotion and admission to schools and universities. The system creates roadblocks for some who because of their scores are prevented from moving on to a higher and/or specific level of learning. There is now significant discussion in Kenya as to the efficacy of using one standardized test score to determine future pathways for learning and career. The pressure on students to achieve and the unrealistic status given to the highest achieving schools has created a school system based on fear and rejection.
Another challenge for the schools is that they receive funds at unpredictable times and in a “trickle down” approach that is often insufficient. Many heads of schools have complained that there are delays in disbursing the funds that each public school should receive. Suppliers are not being paid for their services. Some schools have had to be closed indefinitely since they cannot sustain themselves.
In 2008, the Kenyan government introduced plans to offer free secondary education. The sum of 10,265KSh per pupil amounts to only 30 percent of the actual funds required to attend a public school. One of the tragedies of the school system is re-enacted daily when literally thousands of secondary school youth walk the roadways during the day, sent home for lack of school fees.
Funding for capital projects such as infrastructure and water projects are unavailable unless through a local Harambee fundraiser, the work of NGO’s, access to CDF (Kenya) Community Development Fund or in a few cases international development agencies. This makes planning a budget and running a school a very hard task.
Qualified teachers attending to their professional duties suffer from poor salary levels and they often work far from their family and home community. A growing incidence of HIV/Aids is apparent within the education community due to male teachers in particular being unable to establish a normal home life. Despite these drawbacks, it is remarkable how committed teachers are to their careers and to the students they work with. There is also labour unrest in the education sector due to low salaries and the uncertainty brought to bear by the school reform movement. Poor remuneration of teachers and lecturers has led to strikes. These affect learning of students, particularly the candidates in Standard eight and Form four. They risk not finishing the syllabus and having ample revision time to succeed.
One solution is to build more primary and secondary schools so the children in rural areas have access to education. Schools on the other hand face their own unique problems that contribute to the challenge of equity and equal opportunity in the Kenyan school system. There is a lack of qualified teachers and many are absent due to the impact of the HIV/Aids pandemic. Schools are forced to merge classes that now contain 80-100 students. Since the introduction of the free primary and secondary school system, an estimated additional 2 million children are now attending school. The school system has not been able to keep up with the need for new teachers, added school infrastructure and learning resources.
According to Ministry of Education Permanent Secretary Professor James ole Kiyiapi, “Education is the greatest social equaliser. If we leave it to the private sector, we will create a social apartheid, where only the rich can access it — and it is already happening. Our education system is fundamentally flawed. We are condemning our children too early in life. The reason why KCPE is so brutal is that we don’t have enough spaces in secondary school.”
The 2012 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Examinations (KCSE) results indicate that more than half of the students will miss out on admissions to universities. National statistics overall are grim. One in five of the 2.1 million children who start primary school will make it to high school; of these, just one in 12 can expect to join a public university. Last year, 776,000 pupils sat for the KCPE, but in 2012 only 570,000 are enrolling in Form 1.
So what would it take to ensure that all Standard 8 leavers enroll in Form 1 the following year? Assuming the average classroom to have 45 students, then an additional 4,500 classrooms are needed to accommodate the 200,000 pupils who missed being placed. Kenya has about 5,200 public secondary schools; this means that if four out of five secondary schools added just one extra classroom, every primary school leaver could have the chance to join Form 1 in 2012.
Building 4,500 classrooms will cost approximately $10,000 Cdn for each. Since 2006, 1100 public primary and 1600 secondary schools have been built. Secondary education is expensive to set up and maintain. For example, it takes approximately $5000 to set up an already built primary school and five times that amount for a secondary school. There are no funds for general wear and tear and equipment breakdowns. Government spending per student is even more revealing. It costs more than 10 times to maintain a student in secondary school than it does in primary school — over the past five years, the government spent an average of just Ksh921 ($11) a year on every primary school pupil in the public school system, but spent Ksh10,265 ($125) on every secondary school student.
CES Canada is committed to strengthening the school community of Kakamega and beyond NGO’s such as Community Education Services (CES) Canada provide specific humanitarian aid “on the ground” to a unique rural settings in Kenya. Based on the foundations of Education, Water, Health and Nutrition, CES Canada impacts on twenty-six (26) school communities. In partnership with CES Kenya, it seeks to support and strengthen the learning experience for secondary school students orphaned by HIV/Aids.
Since 2010 seven wells have been created and building projects in two schools are now established. The completion of classrooms for Musaga SS and a new dormitory for St Mary Goretti Girls SS at Shikoti will be the focus for 2012-13. This year 165 students in 26 secondary schools will add to the growing number of students that CES Canada has assisted over the past seven years.
The challenges facing the Kenyan school system are great and it will take decades to meet the goals of Kenya Vision 2030. The ultimate success of Kenya’s education system will be measured by its ability to give equal access to all candidates and provide qualified skills into the labour market to drive the economy. Equity across the school system will only be achieved when schools are fully staffed, where learning resources are available and when classroom enrolments are reduced. Despite these hurdles, teachers continue to display the will and courage to create a strong public school system in Kenya.
CES Canada News Alert
Kenya Kids Can!
Feeding and teaching world changers of tomorrow
Students in the Rift Valley are in danger of finishing secondary school with no immediate job options. The world around the valley has become increasingly digital, and students who have never seen a computer are at a major disadvantage when looking for employment outside of their villages.
Sitting in the middle of the floor of the Great Rift Valley, kilometers from any power source other than the sun, the computer center at Karima has facilitated teaching kids basic computing skills on 10 used laptop computers for over 5 years. It was so successful that we have been able to build 9 more centers.
Each center has 10 laptop computers, and all classes are taught by well-trained, Kenyan teachers. The students start out with keyboarding and quickly move on to working with the basic Microsoft Office products—Word, Excel, and Access. We have some students go from having never seen a computer to typing 70 wpm in about 9 months. The students are very motivated because this offers them hope of getting out of the grinding poverty around them.
At the center in Karima, the teacher offers an extra half an hour of practice from 7:30 until 8:00 am when classes start. There have been students waiting in line at 6:00 am in order to be one of the first 10 who get the extra practice.
May 15, 2013
Can Kenya Fulfill Laptop Promise?
by Gabe Joselow
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has made an ambitious offer to the country’s schoolchildren – free laptops for every first-year student. But some question whether the country is ready and whether the president’s plans can really happen.
At the Muthaiga primary school outside Nairobi, first-year students are learning addition and subtraction the old-fashioned way – with chalkboards, textbooks, and memorization.
But a new government program aims to radically change Kenyan classrooms by giving every new first-year student a laptop, starting next year.
Head teacher Bernadette Owino said the new technology could really open doors for her students. “The world is becoming a small village and you need to connect with the rest of the world, only if you’re computer literate,” she said. “And it will also give the children a chance as they progress and grow to be able to research and have more knowledge. I think it’s a great idea if it works. It’s beautiful. “
While students and educators are excited about the government’s laptop program, others say Kenya isn’t ready. Many teachers still aren’t computer literate themselves and a lot of schools are in disrepair or even lack electricity.
The post-primary teachers union said it supports the initiative in theory, but Secretary General Akelo Misori said bringing teachers and students up to speed should be the first priority. “If basic skills of math and reading are still a challenge in our primary schools, then it means, therefore, that the introduction of technology in schools through laptops may not be a viable component of our learning circumstances now,” he noted.
The laptop program was a major campaign promise of President Uhuru Kenyatta who won the March election by a narrow margin.
But the idea started at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Nairobi.
Suleman Okech heads a team proposing ways to implement the program, from assembling the solar powered laptops to training teachers. “Every new project or program has challenges to be sorted out. So to us the way we train those teachers to fit and man those schools, they can still be trained, the brain never gets obsolete,” Okech stated.
Okech said if the program gets the go-ahead, the benefits will go far beyond the classroom.
He said to produce half a million laptops by January, they would have to employ 12,000 people.
Of course the biggest remaining hurdle is cost. The new government is still working on the country’s budget and how to pay for the program, estimated to cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
WALUBENGO: Queries over Microsoft’s laptop deal
Posted Tuesday, June 11, 2013 | By JOHN WALUBENGO
The announcement that Microsoft will provide funding for computer programmes in Kenyan schools has caused a storm in social media.
The debate is whether our Standard One pupils are better off with Microsoft software on their laptops as compared to other alternatives such as Open-Source software.
The Kenya Publishers Association has added its voice on the debate saying that Microsoft is likely to come with content that is more tailored to the West.
Software is the “fuel” that runs the physical device which in this case is the laptop. There has been two clashing philosophies around software – the Proprietary vs the Open-Source groups.
The proprietary group believes that software is an intellectual property whose code (instructions) should be closed, patented and commercialised to make profit; enabling the owners to generate the next generation of software.
The Open-Source group believes that software is like a food recipe, in that it is simply a piece of instruction that should be open and freely accessible to anyone who wishes to cook.
The money should be made in the serving (installing and customisation) of the food cooked (software) rather than selling the recipe (code). They argue that there is bigger social benefit in such a model as compared to the proprietary model.
There are many software battlefronts where these two groups clash but non is more visible than the clash between Microsoft’s “Windows” Software versus the Open-source “Linux” Software.
Microsoft Windows is a leading global software used by most business enterprises and costs roughly 20 per cent of the cost of owning the hardware.
In other words, if the government laptop is going for around Sh30,000, Microsoft will pocket approximately Sh6,000 for each laptop bought for the Standard One pupils.
For a million laptops, Microsoft will rake in Sh6 billion from this project annually if the government decides to partner with it.
The Open-Source software is free but with related installation and customisation costs, that should be much lower.
If the government opts to install Open-Source software as has been the practice with other governments that have experimented with the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project, then one can argue that we could be sparing Sh6 billion per year, money that could find use in other national priorities.
However, it is premature to reach such a conclusion.
This is because two months into the Jubilee government and despite persistent requests, we are yet to see the educational blueprint for the laptop project.
Where is the document that defines the learning objectives and outcomes of giving the pupils laptops? What is it, in specific terms that we want our pupils to acquire after using the laptop for one year? And how will we assess if indeed they acquired such knowledge and skill?
It is only after interrogating such a document that we can tell whether the Microsoft partnership is a good deal or a con.
In the absence of such a document, we should expect additional State House photo sessions – with many other global software and hardware vendors wishing to expand and grow their markets.
After all, ours is a free-market economy revolving around the willing buyer and willing seller notion.
The gross government domestic debt is now at Sh1.65 trillion. The country is paying at least Sh10.1 billion monthly to service the debt. Kenya is surely heading to the gutters with UhuruRuto government at its helm. They will tax Wanjiku silly in order to survive politically by raising the salaries of MPigs. I bet that after the money from the tax tap runs dry they will sell the country to foreigners to fuel their luxurious jets. Kenyans are now learning what it means by “choices have consequences”. Growls from the likes that are termed “occupy parliament” will increase with time if the actual situation persists. Nobody has predicted where such upheavals will stop, only the future will tell.
Teachers vow to thwart State laptops scheme
Last updated on 14 Jun 2013 00:00
By AUGUSTINE ODUOR
Teachers have vowed to sabotage the proposed Sh53.2 billion free laptops for Standard One pupils project if the State fails to cater for their allowances.
While reading the Budget Speech Wednesday, National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich said the cash would be used to buy laptops for some 1.35 million children expected to join Class One next year.
The money, he said, will also be used to develop digital content and build the capacity for teachers who will cascade the Information and Communication Technology in schools.
Pupils in Standard Four through to Eight will also have computer laboratories constructed under the same allocation. “This will translate to Sh17.4 billion each financial year starting with the next one,” he said.
But the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) has said it will not support the project as teachers expected to implement the laptops project were not well remunerated.
Knut national chairman Wilson Sossion said there would be no negotiation with the Government in the implementation of any education project if Sh50 billion to promote teachers and pay their allowances is not factored in the National Budget.
He said all teachers would treat the laptops initiative as a ‘highly suspicious project’.
“Whose idea was it that laptops be implemented in non-priority areas? And are they planning to replace teachers with laptops?” he posed.
Mr Sossion said they will oppose the project and noted no teacher will be allowed to participate in its implementation unless they are paid full allowances as negotiated under the 1997 agreement.
He warned the teachers’ strike will be called any minute following the ‘laid back’ approach the State has adopted for the education sector.
At the heart of the union’s interest is full implementation of Legal Notice No 534 of 1997 , complete with allowances.
uhuruto now intends to introduce discrimination in kenyas education system for the second time since moi did the same.they want to favor jubilee numbers by giving laptops only to select schools leaving out others who they dont like.can govt policy afford discrimination ?
tell me policy makers ?if uniformity is NT achieved why is jubilee trial and error tactics in govt going to help Kenyans ?
According the Video above >Is there any Diff Btw The People of Kenya their Aping Leaders and Monkeys especially in Mating Mood?
The brain of these gibbons is rotten to the core!Can scientists come with a solution of how to transform the rotten brain of these Bonobos to a human brain hence something drastic measures must be applied fully:Some brain insemination/surgery /iqs manipulation or Genetic corded!
Budget: Did ICT win or lose?
Posted Tuesday, June 18, 2013 | By JOHN WALUBENGO
After the Treasury Cabinet Secretary’s presentation of the budget in Parliament, it is useful to interrogate the numbers allocated for the ICT Ministry.
These numbers are taken from the medium term expenditure report which informs what the minister summarises on the budget statement.
This ICT sub-sector report says that the ICT Ministry is responsible for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) development, Broadcasting and Film industry development, Dissemination of Public Information, Development of National Communications Capacity and Infrastructure, and Public Relations Services through its agencies.
The ministry has several agencies key among them are the Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK), Kenya ICT Board (KICTB), National Communication Secretariat (NCS), Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC), Kenya Institute of Mass Communication, Kenya Film Commission and Brand Kenya.
The allocated recurrent expenditure of Sh1.8 billion is presumably going to be consumed by these bodies except for CCK, which can afford to fund its operations and post the surplus accrued from various telecommunication licensing fees to Treasury.
There is some Sh5 billion allocated for development projects in the Ministry. The bulk of which goes to the Kenya Transparency and Communication Infrastructure (KT&CI) Project. This project gets the Sh3 billion of the development funding and is executed by the Kenya ICT Board. Among some of the projects undertaken include the government digitisation program which aims to automate government processes and provide shared digital services within and across government departments.
Other projects under the KT and CI project include the creation of Digital Villages and support for Local Content Developers across the country. These two initiatives have received negative publicity in the social media.
It has claimed that despite several years of funding, there is very little presence of Digital Villages in the counties while the selection of which content developers to support has been perceived by some quarters to be biased or restrictive.
However, one success story under this KT and CI project remains the support for providing subsidised internet bandwidth for Universities and Tertiary institutions. Over 60 institutions continue to benefit under the Kenya Education Network (KENET) framework.
Another leading project is the development of the Konza Technopolis, the ICT Smart City which was allocated Sh1 billion.
The idea behind the Konza City is to have a modern city specifically designed to host ICT related manufacturing and services. Other than some persistent controversy related to the procurement of the Konza Land, this is one project that can permanently place Kenya on the global digital map if implemented successfully.
Other notable development projects in the budget include the extension of the National Optical Fibre (Sh150 million), the migration of the analogue to digital transmission project (Sh450 million) and the establishment of public mass media facilities across the counties (Sh750 million).
So, is it a win or lose for the ICT sector? It is hard to tell.
Particularly because this years budget is not significantly different from what we had in the previous 2012/2013 financial year.
Perhaps, the sector will have to wait until the Treasury tables the anticipated revised VAT Bill – then we can see whether or not the currently zero-rated ICT devices and software will be revoked. That would totally change the equation.
Parents association opposes computer project, terms it white elephant in the offing
Updated Tuesday, June 18th 2013 at 22:58 GMT +3
By CHARLES NGENO
A parents’ association has dismissed the recent allocation of Sh53.2 billion in the Budget for free laptops project.
The project is intended to benefit about 1.4 million pupils set to join Standard One next year. Kenya National Association of Parents secretary general Musau Ndunda said the project is not a priority and expressed fear that it will turn out to be another white elephant.
He noted that there is a lot of wastage in the education sector because the Government does not carry out assessment of projects it implements.
“There are several white elephants that have been initiated in the Ministry of Education. The Economic Stimulus Package did not take off even after the Government injected Sh30 million into the programme,” said Ndunda.
He pointed out that more than 70 per cent of schools are not ready to receive the laptops. He added that the Government should have prioritised hiring of more teachers and improvement of infrastructure in schools.
“The Jubilee government should have prioritised recruitment of 40,000 teachers to enhance learning in schools. Sh15.4 billion should have been set aside to hire teachers to ease shortage that currently stands at 80,000,” said Ndunda. He regretted that Sh120 million that was earmarked for fire safety project in 2004 has not done much and students continue to be accommodated in dangerous dormitories.
“Before a project of such magnitude is initiated, the Government should evaluate how many past projects have succeeded. Sh7 billion worth of books have gone down the drain in the text book programme for primary schools,” said Ndunda.
He added the laptop project is likely to fail because it has not received goodwill of several stakeholders.
“How will the programme succeed if teachers who are expected to implement it have opposed it,” posed Ndunda who appealed to the Government to shelve the idea for now.
In his Budget presentation last week, National Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich said Sh53.2 billion will be used to buy laptops for Class One pupils, development of digital content, building capacity of teachers and rolling out of computer laboratory for Class Four to Class Eight students in all schools.
Laptops budget cut by Sh2bn
By CAROLINE WAFULA
Posted Friday, June 21 2013
A House team has slashed the budget for the schools laptop project by Sh2 billion.
The Parliamentary Education Committee met on Wednesday and reduced the allocation from Sh17.4 billion to Sh15.4 billion.
The committee is trying to raise funds from within the sector by adjusting allocations for various votes to cover a funding deficit of Sh13.5 billion, and address priority areas.
Last week, the Budget and Appropriations Committee also transferred Sh4 billion from the Tourism and Industrialisation dockets to the Education. This makes Sh6 billion— the amount raised through budget adjustments.
Teachers’ push for allowances and promotions, and pay rise demands by lecturers and other university staff are some of the current challenges requiring funding in Education sector.
Education Committee Chairperson Sabina Chege, who presented funding needs in the sector to the Budget and Appropriations Committee, said Sh3.5 billion was required to cater for teacher promotions and Sh1.8 billion to meet lecturers’ demands.
The reduction in laptops budget comes amid opposition from some members of the Budget committee who have demanded that the project be deferred.
The MPs said it was premature to start implementing the project, arguing that the government should develop the infrastructure and train teachers first.
However, Mr Musyimi cautioned that the project was a key component of the Jubilee manifesto and asked the Education committee will offer guidance on the best way forward.
The Treasury has allocated Sh53.2 billion to buy 1.35 million laptops for Standard One pupils, develop digital content, train teachers and set up computer laboratories for Standard Four to Standard Eight in all public schools.
This translates to Sh17.4 billion each financial year starting from 2013/14. Parliament will consider the proposed reduction of the allocation to Sh15.4 billion.
One Laptop Per Child is not improving reading or math. But, are we learning enough from these evaluations?
Submitted by Berk Ozler On Thu, 06/14/2012 – 00:51
A few months ago, the first randomized evaluation of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) came out as a working paper (you can find a brief summary by the authors here), after circulating in the seminar/conference circuit for a while. Many articles and blogs followed (see a good one here by Michael Trucano and find the short piece in the Economist and the responses it generated from OLPC in the comments section) because the study found no effects of OLPC in Peru on test scores in reading and math, no improvements in enrollment or attendance, no change in time spent on homework or motivation, but some improvements in cognitive ability as measured by Raven’s Progressive Colored Matrices.
At the Australasian Development Economics Conference (ADEW) I attended last week at Monash University in Melbourne, another paper on a smaller pilot of the OLPC in Nepal presented similar findings: no effects on English or Math test scores for primary school children who were given XO laptops along with their teachers (This study has some problems: the schools in the control group are demonstrably different than the treated schools, so the author uses a difference in difference analysis to get impact estimates. There are worries about mean reversion [Abhijit Banerjee pointed this out during the Q&A] and some strange things happening with untreated grades in treatment schools seeing improvements in test scores, so the findings should be treated with caution). What I want to talk about is not so much the evidence, but the fact that the whole thing looks a mess – both from the viewpoint of the implementers (countries who paid for these laptops) and from that of the OLPC.
First, though, let’s go back and think for another second about whether it would be reasonable to expect improvements in mastery of curricular material if we just give each student a laptop in developing countries. Another study (gated, WP version available here) that was published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics last year found that children who won a voucher to purchase a computer had lower school grades but higher computer skills and improved cognitive ability. Interestingly, parental supervision protecting time spent doing homework was protective of test scores without reducing the improvements in computer literacy and cognitive ability. So, if you just give kids a computer, we find out that they’ll use it. The use is likely heterogeneous in the way described by Banerjee et al. in “The Miracle of Microfinance?”: just as loans can be used for consumption or investment, computers can be used the same way depending on the child’s type and circumstances. But, without substantial additional effort, it seems unlikely that the children will read books on these computers (the OLPCs were loaded with a large number of e-books in the programs mentioned above)or do their homework using them. If parents pay attention, the time spent on the computer may come out of other leisure activities; otherwise, it will likely come out of time spent on learning how to read and do math, leading to the sorts of effects described above. (There is more on the use of technology in education with mixed results – I will not review the literature here, but it seems to me that Michael Trucano keeps an active and informative blog on this issue).
The reason I call this a mess is because I am not sure (a) how the governments (and the organizations that help them) purchased a whole lot of these laptops to begin with and (b) why their evaluations have not been designed differently – to learn as much as we can from them on the potential of particular technologies in building human capital. Let’s discuss these in order:
My understanding is that each laptop costs approximately $200. That’s a lot of money, ignoring any other costs of distribution, software development, training, etc. The Peru study suggests that the Peruvian government bought 900,000 of these laptops. Couldn’t spending US$180 million on these laptops wait until some careful evaluation was conducted? In my last blog post I talked about moving from efficacy to effectiveness in social science field trials. This is the opposite: there are now a couple of studies that did the best they could given that the governments were already implementing programs built around OLPC (measuring effectiveness, kind of), but how were they convinced of the efficacy of OLPC to start implementing these programs in the first place?
Bruce Wydick, in a guest post he did for us a few months back, suggests one explanation: some interventions are hyped without proper evidence: under that state of the world, the XO laptop becomes the next shiny solution to our problems in one area – a panacea. When I searched for the evidence that OLPC may significantly improve learning, I got this sentence on their website, with no links to any studies or corroboration: “Extensively field-tested and validated among some of the poorest and most remote populations on earth, constructionism emphasizes what Papert calls “learning learning” as the fundamental educational experience.” Based on what evidence did the UNDP, as far back as 2006, sign a memorandum of understanding with OLPC to support national governments to deploy these laptops in schools?
If I was running OLPC, I would hire a credible third party evaluator to run an efficacy trial. Whatever aspect of human capital it is that I am proposing my laptops improve (reading, cognitive, or non-cognitive), I would measure all of those things carefully under ideal circumstances: I would vary the intervention by having trained teachers or not, specially designed software for learning or not, internet access or not, allowing children to take the laptops home or not, etc. I’d also have a thorough review of the literature that suggests what kinds of long-term improvements in welfare, poverty reduction, growth, etc. such potential improvements may cause. If the trial showed no effects or effects below a certain threshold to be meaningful or cost-effective, I’d go back to the drawing board. If they showed larger effects, then I could start working with governments to evaluate pilot versions of what would look like scaled-up versions of these programs: problems with internet access, stolen laptops, teacher capacity, etc. These steps would help me deploy many more laptops, which furthers my goal as a non-profit organization.
But, at least we can understand why OLPC did not undertake these steps: they already believe that these laptops are good for children (apparently even at the current price tag) and there are already governments buying large quantities with the help of international development organizations. But, why didn’t the governments in Latin America, where apparently most of OLPC deployments happened so far, insist on better evidence before embarking on this path? In Peru, they may now reconsider the program but more than $180 million has already been spent; in Nepal, the Department of Education was wise enough to do a small pilot first and hence spent a small amount on the laptops, but they did not give enough thought to designing the evaluation properly. Many of the authors of the Peru study are from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), who seem to have collaborated with the Peruvian government in evaluating the OLPC there – perhaps they can comment on the process.
One important role larger development organizations like the World Bank or IDB can play is in testing big ideas like these across multiple countries or settings. No one with a pulse in 2012 thinks that cheap laptops are not a good thing: we’re just trying to decide whether we should be spending precious funds on subsidizing them for families with young children. Same with Millennium Villages: perhaps the ‘big bang’ approach has merit. But every such idea needs to be assessed properly, allowing us to learn as much as possible from each study. The bigger the idea and the hype, the more important the evidence becomes.
We have come some distance from the days when we used to implement projects and programs with the belief that they would work – without much in the way of thorough evaluations. These days, an array of tools are available to examine program impacts and policymakers are much more sympathetic to tweak program implementation to facilitate credible evaluations. But, donors and governments are still vulnerable to spending large sums on the latest fads, the magic bullets – only to have the evaluations to follow not precede…
We are also still being mainly opportunistic in what is being evaluated: we get a call from someone saying they are about to start implementing project X or program Y, and we jump in if it sounds interesting. That’s still too late and quite haphazard when it comes to learning the answers to important questions. As researchers and as policymakers, we all have to be more proactive in producing evidence before decisions are made. Until then, studies like the ones covered here will be second-best solutions putting out fires instead of preventing them.
Jubilee laptop project is lopsided and unhealthy for education sector
Updated Friday, June 28th 2013 at 20:30 GMT +3
By Timothy Bosire
Whoever sold Jubilee leaders Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto the grand idea of laptops for pupils as a magic election campaign sweetener to win them votes in the last General Election must have been an election propaganda genius.Â It proved popular with majority youths who are either parents or have siblings in school.
But playing populist gimmicks to win elections should be weighed against our countryâ€™s prevailing circumstances, reality and logic when the elections are over and we embark on implementing election pledges. Raw implementation of this Laptops project as is being pushed by the Government is unsettling the country.
The Governmentâ€™s action to put aside Sh53 billion in the 2013/2014 Budget towards this end is tantamount to shocking our school system. Management and leadership experts have long held the view that shocking any set system is destructive. Our case is worsened by the fact that this fantasy project will shock a very fragile system, as our public school system is ailing and needs delicate rehabilitation.
Education is the lifeline of any society. In Kenya, just like in most third world countries, education is the principal form of socio-economic empowerment only second to land.
For this central role in society, education has gradually developed into a basic human right.
Besides, in Kenya, it has been legislated into an inalienable right for every child. The law prohibits denial of schooling for any Kenyan child and Government has enforced free, universal primary education.
Nevertheless, the same law that prioritises school education as above is grounded in the belief that education be of high quality and egalitarian. That school system that is to upgrade our children is not supposed to be managed crookedly, be a source of frustration to learners nor be a factory for inequalities. President Kenyatta and his Deputy owe it to Kenyans to sanitise the education sector with special emphasis on the public school system to make it the most successful government project. It would be logical for Government to prioritise building of classrooms, libraries, office blocks, workshops and toilet facilities for schools that lack them, connecting all schools to electricity (normal or solar-powered) and water supply.
The other area that would need priority consideration is fixing the teacherâ€™s question, which has been handled callously by our successive regimes.Â I concur with many leaders, critics and commentators who have also advised that if the Jubilee government seriously wanted to fast track ICT learning in our schools then they needed to graduate the investment starting with training teachers, building computer laboratories in all schools and developing security measures in each school to ward off thieves and vandals. And such needs strategic planning and consultation with experts and stakeholders.
There is no shame in revisiting and reviewing this ill-advised, politically motivated and populist strategy to such a great matter of national interest. Otherwise, as things stand now this laptop computer project is a white elephant in the making. Any amateur will confirm that it is probably a cash cow for procurers and nothing else. It is possible this is a deliberate scheme to line pockets of a select few.
Otherwise, who knows how the procurement will be effected? Why is it being hurried? Has it been advertised? Are public procurement laws being followed strictly to avoid another Anglo leasing scandal? This is not jubilee money or some other private money being put to this wayward project; it is public money belonging to all Kenyans. For that reason, Kenyans are alarmed at this wild push for the project to kick off. Dear Mr President, please abandon this programme and redirect this money to where needed most.
The writer is MP for Kitutu Masaba
Some Kenyan parents oppose laptop offer to kids, but government defends plans
By Associated Press, Published: July 4
NAIROBI, Kenya — An ambitious plan by Kenya’s government to give laptops to schoolchildren has been opposed by parents who say the money for the computers should instead go toward raising teachers’ salaries and feeding children.
The program is bound to fail in a country that lacks enough teachers and where others strike regularly for better pay, Musau Ndunda of the Kenya National Association of Parents said Thursday.
Kenya currently has a shortfall of 40,000 teachers, and more than 200,000 teachers in public schools across the country are currently striking over unpaid housing, transport and hardship allowances promised 16 years ago.
Ndunda said Kenya also needs 42,000 classrooms. He said the money used for the laptops needs to be used to increase the number of children in the country’s school feeding program, meant to help children from poor backgrounds to stay in school and improve their health and nutrition.
Currently teachers do not have the capacity to implement the laptop project because they have not been trained and the government has not developed a curriculum for the project, said Ndunda. He said there are worries that the laptops would be lost or stolen, citing the recent scandal in which 70 million textbooks in a free primary-school education program went missing.
“If they are able to lose such an amount of textbooks then with the laptops it might be worse,” he said.
He wondered how the laptops will be safe in households among the country’s poor, saying “you cannot keep such a gadget in your house if you don’t have something to eat.”
Stephen Mutoro, of the Consumer Federation of Kenya, said the though noble the laptop project was “not well thought out and was politicized beyond redemption.”
President Uhuru Kenyatta proposed while campaigning that his government would give laptops to 1.2 million children who start school every year, part of a wider plan to make the East African country an Internet hub. Details of the program, which will cost the government $615 million in three years, have not been made public. It is set to start later this year.
Microsoft, through the Partners in Learning Schools program, in last five years had trained 32,600 teachers, whose impact was being felt by more than 1.8 million children, Louis Otieno of Microsoft Africa Initiatives said in a statement Thursday. He said the government has not reached a final agreement with Microsoft, which will implement the project.
Muthui Kariuki, the government spokesman, defended the laptop project, saying it was crucial to Kenya’s goal of training a digital-savvy workforce.
“Anybody criticizing the idea is somebody who does not care about the future,” he said. “We are in a digital age and from the young people we will train we will get the next managers of the ‘silicon valley’ spurring growth and creating jobs. Technology is the only remaining frontier.”
Kenya’s cabinet has approved the implementation of laptop program in schools, a statement from the Presidents Press Service said late Thursday.
The statement said the program will also see construction of storage facilities for computers in all schools, while the Ministry of Education will immediately embark on training teachers who will be responsible for teaching students how to use the computers.
The government will develop a curriculum for digital content in readiness for the roll out of the program in January, 2014 and Ministry of Energy and Petroleum will connect schools to electricity for the computer program.
The government will install solar energy panels to charge the laptops where there is no electricity, according to the statement.
The cost of the project was initially expected to cost $174 million (Kenya shillings 15 billion) in the first phase, the statement said and each laptop is expected to cost to $100.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
For many students in Busia County, the Laptop in Schools Project is a God sent opportunity that could not have come at a better time. Students at St. Alex Esidende Primary School in Busia have lauded the move as coming at an opportune time when they have all the infrastructure in place. The school headmaster was relieved that the laptops would be used to deliver highly nutritious pizza to his students. He pleaded with Uhuru to ensure that the laptops were connected to a reliable electricity supply and sufficient network connectivity. He said, “Our students will be the first in the county to watch Arsenal in the comfort of their classrooms. They can even learn about dangerous snakes without the need to look up a tree.”
Meanwhile, Malingumu, a prominent computer expert in Nairobi has said laptops would help grade 1 students see the world in three dimensions and solve complex algebraic equations while still at a tender age. “We have conquered hunger. Now we must conquer illiteracy,” he said. “Those computer screens will be good substitutes for cheap black slates. Students can no longer complain they do not have surfaces to scribble on,” he added. Malingumu decried the Odinga habit of advocating for three square meals a day for pupils. He said that students in the digital age only need to eat once a week. Computers will occupy their digital minds.
Kenyan Government Considering Tablets over Laptops for Class One Pupils
Tue, 07/09/2013 02:17PM -0400 .
The government is considering the introduction of tablets instead of laptops to Class One pupils in all public schools across the country.
Cabinet Secretary for Education Prof Jacob Kaimenyi said the move was informed by the fact that Information Communication Technology (ICT) was very dynamic with gadgets and software change in a very short time.
Kaimenyi said there were clear projections that in the next five years, laptops currently being used by majority of the people would be replaced by tablets thus the need to be ahead of time so that the gadgets are not declared obsolete.
“What Kenya needs to do is to move in tandem with technology so as to avoid the country being a dumping ground for obsolete goods.We have also established that young children prefer touch screen than devices that use a mouse,” Kaimenyi said.
He said the government was keen on ensuring a plant was set up in the country to manufacture the gadgets so as to make it cheaper for the consumers.
“There is a consortium of private sector players willing to partner with Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) to set up a local assembly plant for the computers,” Kaimenyi said.
Kaimenyi while accompanied by Principal Secretary in the Ministry Kipsang Belion made the remarks when he appeared before the Parliamentary Committee on Education, Science and Technology to brief MPs on the progress made in the implementation of laptops programe in schools.
Education sector poses the toughest test
So far, the education sub-sector in Kenya has probably posed the greatest governance challenge for President Uhuru Kenyatta’s three-month-old regime.
The move to implement one of its campaign promises — provision of solar-powered laptop computers for children in Standard One across the country — and this month’s teachers’ strike have particularly tested the leadership of the top brass of the Jubilee government.
While the President has passionately defended the laptops project and plans are underway to have it rolled out in public schools across the country, pundits have viewed his labour of love as something out of touch with the immediate needs of the sector.
The government has already earmarked Sh53 billion for the implementation of the project, to be phased across three years starting January 2014 at a cost of at least Sh17 billion for each of the phases.
An initial report prepared by the Ministry of Education shows that the target is to reach 1.3 million pupils, with the targeted schools expected to be roped into the national electricity power grid, thereby opening up rural areas for development.
Other than the 1.3 million Standard One primary targets, the laptops will also be available to other learners in beneficiary schools, notes the Ministry of Education.
“After several consultations on how to implement the project, it has been recommended that a whole school focus be taken so that 8.75 million children access the laptops instead of only 1.3 million Standard One pupils,” the ministry clarifies.
Priority for selection will be based on the e-readiness of the school in terms of availability of electricity and classrooms, and secure storage of the devices.
By next year, if the project is implemented according to plan, some 6,275 primary schools will benefit in the first phase, another 7,046 primary schools will be covered in 2015 and an equal number in 2016, when the programme ends.
But according to education expert Andiwo Obondoh of the Centre for Social Sector, Education and Policy Analysis, the idea of laptops is “utopic and populist”.
Mr Obondoh notes that no one can deny the great need for technology, and that the fundamental need for acquisition of such skills early in life is essential to drive Kenya into a sustainable knowledge economy, “but our level of preparedness for such an ambitious project, based on e-readiness assessment and review of other competing and pressing priorities facing not only the sector but the nation at large, is what sector professionals are questioning”.
“This project has put the education priorities of the new Jubilee government into question because a good administration must get down to the basics first,” adds Mr Obondoh.
Many feel that there are more immediate needs in the sub-sector, like increasing the amounts allocated to the Free Education Programme that is benefiting millions of children in primary and secondary schools across the country.
For instance, every child under the Free Primary Education programme is allocated only Sh1,020 per year to cater for all their learning needs, while at the secondary level each student is allocated Sh10,265 annually.
These amounts, interestingly, have never been reviewed, nearly a decade since the launch of the FPE programme in 2003 and the secondary plan in 2008, despite inflation and the rising cost of goods.
Disbursement of the funds to schools has also been erratic, forcing school managers to borrow supplies and sometimes end school terms prematurely.
“All these are not happening because of lack of laptops in schools,” says Mr Obondoh. “The Jubilee government should focus on these basics first and rethink its computer-for-schools strategy.”
But last week, during a media breakfast meeting at State House, Nairobi, President Kenyatta said he was not ready to rethink the strategy, or even channel the funds allocated to the programme to other pressing needs like employing more teachers for the crowded classrooms in public schools.
“Anyone who tells me to divert the money — which we are borrowing in the first place — has his or her priorities inverted,” the President said.
As the debate over laptops rages, teachers say the want more money in their pockets, not computers in classrooms. Their industrial action, called off Wednesday after weeks of agitation, paralysed learning so much that there were calls for the extension of the school calendar to compensate learners for the time lost.
Teachers were demanding that the government honours a deal they signed in 1997 for increased allowances — medical, housing and commuter — calculated as a percentage of their basic salaries, which amounts to Sh47 billion.
But President Kenyatta told them his government had been in office for only three months, and that it would be unfair to ask for a Sh47 billion payout at once.
In return, his government offered the striking teachers a Sh16.2 billion deal, phased out in three years and signed by the Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers. However, the larger teachers union — Kenya National Union of Teachers — rejected the deal, deepening the education crisis in the country.
The government also plans to employ 10,000 teachers for public schools in a bid to meet the conventionally accepted standards of 40 pupils per class.
But to achieve such a feat, it will need to employ more teachers first to meet the yawning gap of more than 80,000 countrywide before embarking on the ambitious strategy to decongest crowded classrooms.
Many education promises captured in the Jubilee manifesto are yet to be reviewed, among them the plan to increase the transition rate from primary to secondary schools to 90 per cent, since a national exam is yet to be written under the new administration’s watch. Currently, the transition rate stands at 74 per cent.
Deputy President William Ruto says this plan will be achieved by “expanding the number of post-secondary places to give fresh secondary school graduates tertiary qualifications”.
Government secondary schools will admit half of the students from public primary schools while boarding schools in pastoralist areas will be increased to keep as many children as possible in class.
Bright students from poor backgrounds will benefit from a government-funded scholarship scheme that will see them get free admissions to the best schools, says the Jubilee government, while a business bursary scheme will be established and private companies encouraged to contribute to the kitty through tax incentives.
Private investors will also be given incentives to set up more schools that will increase the chances to post-primary institutions.
Institutes of technology
At the university level, the Jubilee government plans to reverse the elevation of mid-level colleges into fully-fledged universities.
Already, Mr Ruto has noted that money has been factored in the current budget to set up an institute of technology in each of the 47 counties.
More than 30 mid-level colleges have so far been elevated to university-college status, most of them under the Kibaki regime, and are awaiting further elevation to fully-fledged universities as it is envisaged in the First Sessional Paper on Education (2005).
But the elevation of the colleges will be shelved and, instead, the government will open new vocational technical institutes in each constituency.
Jubilee has pledged to sponsor qualified students through university, with a one-year work commitment in return, and also introduce free milk for all learners. None of these, though, has been actualised.
Do they have a plan for what will happen when/if the laptops break? (How long are they designed to last anyway?) Or are stolen (a particular risk in urban Kenya, I’d think)? Will they be replaced promptly as soon as this happens, and what will children left without a laptop do in the meantime? Are they meant to be kept at school or at home, and will the children be targets for crime carrying a laptop on the journey between? What happens if it makes more sense for a family to sell the laptop than keep it and not eat? What happens if the power goes down, either at school or at home, and the laptop
If the government has planned for all these possibilities then great. Technology is awesome, Kenyans are pretty tech-savvy and embracing the possibilities of internet/mobile phone technology and IT literate kids will be the business leaders of Kenya’s future. But it would be sad if we end up with haves and have-nots, or lots of broken laptops no one can afford to fix mouldering in the corner.
Mr Kenyatta is allegedly criminally responsible as an indirect co-perpetrator pursuant to article 25(3)(a) of the Rome Statute for the crimes against humanity of:
•murder (article 7(l)(a));
•deportation or forcible transfer (article 7(l)(d));
•rape (article 7(l)(g));
•persecution (articles 7(l)(h)); and
•other inhumane acts (article 7(l)(k)).
Why Kenya lags behind in research, innovation
Updated Tuesday, August 6th 2013 at 22:00 GMT +3
By Francis Ontomwa
Kenya has one of the most choking environments for inventions and innovations in the world, according to researchers.
Scholars from different institutions have expressed concerns over the state of affairs attacking the 8-4-4 system of education and lack of legislative structures to assist talents.
The sentiments come in the wake of a story aired on KTN of a young man Chris Ghalily whose invention of the drone sparked debate after the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority barred his operations and issuance of certificate on safety grounds.
Prof Egara Kabaji of Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology says Kenya is lagging behind in the field of research and innovation due to lack of mechanisms to tap talents and innovations.
He said local universities have failed to take their rightful place in research to incubate brilliant ideas among youth.
Exodus of Talents
“Unlike in the developed countries, we lack structures and mechanisms to assist talents, worse still, the assumption that nothing good can come from this part of the continent appears to have been augmented and with this kind of environment, it explains why we are witnessing exodus of talents to the West,” he said.
Dr Charles Nyambuga, a communications expert at Maseno University said the real intentions of the 8-4-4 system went down the pan and the move to upgrade technical institutions into universities further worsened matters.
“None of the 8-4-4 goals have been effectively tackled. When it came it was supposed to advance innovation, entrepreneurship among other goals but this has not been achieved,” said Nyambuga.
According to Dr Veronica Kiluva of the Centre for Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance at MMUST, patenting and copyright laws should be tightened to shield Kenyans’ works from losing out their ides to outsiders.
“There is need to formalise laws protecting creativity and innovations, if we can be able to anchor what comes from our country we shall increase competitiveness and scale up our productivity,” she said.
IEBC ordered to surrender voting kits in laptop plan
By ISAAC ONGIRI
Posted Tuesday, August 13 2013 at 23:30
The electoral commission has been ordered to surrender 45,000 laptops used in the March 4 election to the Ministry of Education.
The gadgets are to be used to train teachers to implement the free laptops project whose implementation will begin in January.
However, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has resisted, saying it can only release the computers if the correct transfer of assets procedures are followed. (EDITORIAL: Treasury misses point)
On Tuesday, National Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich told the Nation that his ministry had requested IEBC to surrender the computers lest they become obsolete from disuse.
“Yes I am aware that my ministry has requested the IEBC to surrender the laptops used for the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) and others used to support the Electronic Voter Identification Devices (EVIDs) because they don’t need them now anyway,” Mr Rotich said.
He said the Treasury had suggested that the commission should only keep a few laptops for use in by-elections.
Said Mr Rotich: “This suggestion has been made to ensure the equipment are put to good use before they are swept under the carpet by emerging technology.”
The laptops will be used to initiate early training for teachers before the arrival of the learners’ laptops which will be launched when schools open in January. “We are not going to distribute these laptops to children but we are going to use them to train instructors before the learning kits arrive,” said Mr Rotich.
But a report prepared by IEBC’s director of information communication technology, Mr Dismas Ong’ondi, on the government request has raised concerns over the demand for the gadgets that cost about Sh8.3 billion.
The 15,000 BVR kits supplied by a French aeronautical firm Safran Morpho cost Sh7.2 billion in a loan obtained from Standard Chartered Bank of London while the EVID tender, which was given to Face Technologies, was valued at Sh1.06 billion.
Face Technologies, a South Africa firm, supplied 30,000 laptops and 4,650 devices which were used to ease voter identification on the election day. The project failed and the tender has now been subjected to investigations by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.
“The release of any BVR laptop will require that all personal data and BVR software on the laptops be securely disposed of before they can be donated as requested.
“The Secretariat is of the view that donating any of the BVR laptops will effectively render the rest of the high value components useless so soon after massively investing in this technology,” said a report prepared by IEBC’s ICT committee.
“The directive is premised on the assumption that the laptops would be obsolete if left idle till the next General Election and that since elections are always conducted in public schools, the commission can always access them for use during elections,” the report said.
The report was approved by the commission’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr James Oswago, on July 15.
The Ministry of Education and the National Treasury had separately written to Mr Oswago on June 27 directing him to release the laptops for use by the Ministry of Education.
In their letters, the two ministries argued that the commission would still access the laptops from time to time since the gadgets would be in custody of schools. On Tuesday, Mr Oswago confirmed receiving the two letters.
“We are afraid no clear direction on the procedure has been highlighted. We have also demanded that if we have to give away these laptops then there must be a mechanism for replacing them at least two years before the next General Election,” he said in an interview with the Nation.
Mr Oswago said the demand for a clear commitment was driven by a legal provision that the commission should undertake electronic registration of voters from time to time.
Concerns have also been raised that such orders may have violated the independence of the commission.
The government has already floated tenders to procure 1,378,622 laptops, 20,673 printers and 20,637 projectors to facilitate digital studies in the country’s primary schools at a cost of Sh15 billion.
On Tuesday, the Cabinet approved the setting up of the laptops implementation systems in primary schools to ensure a smooth roll out of the laptop programme in January.
Digital content already developed by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development is to be installed in each of the laptops before they are delivered by the successful bidder.
Let them eat tablets
Trying to stop the rot in Thailand’s schools by giving out tablet computers
Jun 16th 2012 | BANGKOK |From the print edition
SINCE the new government of prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra took office last July, Thailand has been treated to a soap-opera about the supply of tablet computers to all children starting school. Ms Yingluck’s “one tablet per child” pledge during the campaign was probably her single most vote-catching policy, yet fulfilling it has turned into a national ordeal.
A few weeks ago a deal was at last signed with Shenzhen Scope Scientific Development, a Chinese firm, for the provision of 400,000 tablets. On June 7th a beaming Ms Yingluck gave the first batch to a group of smartly dressed pupils.
Some argue that the focus on the tablets has distracted attention from a deeper malaise affecting Thai education. Although the proportion of children attending school has grown over the past decade, the quality of their education has deteriorated.
The chief problem is that children’s educational attainments are falling, even as more money is being lavished on the schools. Thailand now spends about 20% of the national budget on education, more than it devotes to any other sector. The budget has doubled over a decade. Yet results are getting worse, both in absolute terms and relative to other countries in South-East Asia.
Thailand’s own ombudsman reported earlier this year that, despite the extra cash, the national standardised examination results show that students’ scores in the core subjects of English, maths and science have been largely falling. The most recent Global Competitiveness Report from the World Economic Forum ranked Thailand a dismal 83rd in terms of its “health and primary education”, one of four basic indicators. This is below others in the region such as Vietnam and Indonesia; only impoverished Cambodia performs worse.
Thailand’s scores on the respected international PISA test have remained almost static since 2003 whereas Indonesia, for instance, has been moving up from a lower base. In another recent competitiveness report Thailand ranked 54th out of 56 countries globally for English-language proficiency, the second-lowest in Asia.
For a relatively affluent country that wants to escape the middle-income trap, such statistics are depressing. Employers lament that they have difficulty hiring people with basic reading and writing skills. As a result, positions often go unfilled, or insufficiently qualified people have to be taken on. Productivity suffers as a result.
Why does Thailand fare so badly? Somkiat Tangkitvanich, an expert at the Thailand Development Research Institute, claims that there is no mystery. Most of the swelling education budget has gone on higher pay for teachers (who now often earn more than the starting salary of a university lecturer), yet no improvement in performance has been extracted in return.
Mr Somkiat argues that schools have to be made more accountable to the people who use and pay for them. Information on a school’s performance should be available to parents, and teachers’ pay should be linked to students’ results, he says. At the moment, only a tiny weight is given to results in assessing a teacher for a pay rise; far more consideration is given to how the teacher keeps order in the classroom. “It’s a very subjective evaluation,” argues Mr Somkiat, based largely on “how well you butter up the headmaster.”
Others suggest that bad schools could be closed, or turned over to the private sector. These are radical ideas for a conservative country and would mean taking on powerful vested interests—not least 400,000 or so well-paid teachers. Giving every child a tablet computer is a nice gimmick, but it is unlikely to be the key to educational excellence.
From the print edition: Asia
Kenya poverty levels to rise over next two years, says report
Updated Tuesday, September 3rd 2013
By JACKSON OKOTH
A parliamentary report has returned a damning assessment of former president Mwai Kibakiâ€™s legacy in the area of fighting poverty.
The report projects that some 3.7 million households will be living below the poverty line in the next two years, thanks to negative momentum built during Kibakiâ€™s much-heralded tenure.
The economic assessment, titled MPsâ€™ Budget Watch 2013/14: Oversight for Improved Public Expenditure, questions the wisdom and success of various initiatives by the former coalition government designed to fight poverty.
They include Kazi Kwa Vijana programmes, whose funding ended up in the deep pockets of wheeler-dealers and powerful State operatives.
Figures compiled by the Parliamentary Budget Office also indicate that poverty levels will get worse for most counties before they can get better, three years from now.
For instance, poverty levels for Nairobi, which stood at 26.1 per cent last year, will increase to 26.2 per cent this year before falling to 25.4 per cent in 2015. The share of households living below the poverty line is expected to decrease from 44.3 per cent in 2012/13 to 42.1 per cent in 2016.
While the number of poor households stood at 2.7 million in 2005/06, this number has increased to 3.7 million recorded last year.
The report shows that poverty levels increased between 2005 and 2013, a period that falls within Kibakiâ€™s 10-year tenure. The total number of poor households has continuously increased since the last Kenya National Bureau of Statistics survey in 2005/06, the report notes.
In its bid to reduce poverty levels, the Jubilee Government has increased the social protection safety net in form of cash transfers. The number of orphans targeted under the social protection safety net is expected to double from 155,000 to 310,000 at a cost of Sh7.7 billion.
This includes Sh400 million for Presidential Secondary School Bursary Scheme for orphans, poor and bright students. The number of elderly people targeted for cash transfers is also expected to double from 59,000 to 118,000 at cost of Sh3 billion. An allocation of Sh770 million has been made to cover those with extreme disability from 14,700 to 29,400. Sh462 million has been set aside for â€œotherâ€ disabled persons under coverage of cash transfer.
On the revenue side, there are proposals to seal leakages in revenue collection through tax reforms. Through these strategic interventions, the government is confident that it will create one million jobs per year, lift at least 10 million Kenyans out of poverty and expand social protection coverage to the vulnerable.
The Parliamentary Budget Office, whose primary function is to provide professional services in respect of budget, finance and economic information to the committees of Parliament, reports that the share of households below the poverty line is projected to have risen from 38.8 per cent in 2005/06 to 46.3 percent last year.
The report warns that unless specific poverty related initiatives are undertaken, the total number of poor individuals is projected to increase to 22.4 million in 2015/16.
However, the share of individuals below the poverty line is poised to reduce by about 2.1 percentage points over the medium term (2012/13-2015/16). â€œIt is apparent that all initiatives that have been executed in the past to fight poverty have failed. Most of them deal with the symptoms rather than the issue at hand,â€ said Kithinji Kiragu, a Director at Africa Development Professional Group Ltd and a Public Sector Management specialist.
â€œPoverty and youth unemployment is a global problem and not unique to Kenya. What are required are not simplistic solutions but well thought out strategies that incorporate input from both the youth and older generation,â€ said Kiragu.
Over time, some counties have reversed the poverty trend while the poverty levels in others have increased. The parliamentary report says that it is important to put in place county-specific strategies of addressing poverty as opposed to taking a generalised approach.
Turkana is the poorest county in Kenya according to figures from the parliamentary budget office, with over 90 per cent of the population living below the poverty line. It is followed by Wajir, Marsabit and Mandera.
Study: Class 1 and 2 pupils unable to read
Updated Tuesday, September 10th 2013
By GEORGE ORIDO
KENYA: New research shows many Class 1 and 2 pupils still lack basic knowledge in languages and mathematics.
The research released on Monday indicates sampled pupils could neither read English and Kiswahili, nor solve mathematical problems.
The Triangle International report shows Machakos County is the worst with 52 per cent of pupils in the category.
Nakuru County score is 47 per cent among the same group while Kiambu follows closely with 41 per cent.
Similarly 44 per cent of children in these two classes cannot read Kiswahili in Nakuru and while 40 per cent cannot read Kiswahili in Kiambu.
Nairobiâ€™s literacy levels are the highest with just 17 per cent of children in Classes 1 and 2 being unable to read.
The research was released yesterday as part of pilot project dubbed the Primary Math and Reading (PRIMR) Initiative implemented by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in conjunction with USAID and the DFiD.
According to the lead researchers, Dr Benjamin Piper and Dr Abel Muganda, the findings were based on a random sample of 1,300 schools countrywide.
According to Dr Piper, there is a huge correlation between literacy levels and math abilities.
â€œWhen a mathematical question is set in English and the pupil does not understand the question, chances are the pupil will not solve that math,â€ he said.
At a range of 1-7 marks where 1 is rated â€˜poorâ€™ and 7 rated â€˜bestâ€™ in the quality of primary education, Kenya scored an average of 3.9 marks below Botswanaâ€™s 4.1, Malaysiaâ€™s 4.8, Tunisiaâ€™s 4.9 and Singaporeâ€™s 6.2.
It is against this backdrop that the ministry has taken initiatives such as PRIMR to improve on the quality of education in the country.
Quality of education
â€œKenya has achieved very high access (to primary education) levels. What remains now is what quality of education do we give to our children,â€ posed Abdi Ogle of the Kenya Assessment Centre who also chaired the presentation session at a Nairobi Hotel on Monday.
Statistics shows improved literacy among pupils currently under PRIMR since January 2012.
The average fluency rate in English in formal schools among Class 1 pupils is 24 per cent while that of schools not under the programme remains at 11 per cent.
Yet another interesting finding is that literacy levels in English are generally higher than Kiswahili across the board.
The Kenya National Examinations Council praised the PRIMR initiative and asked for its implementation in the rest of the country.
The ICT intervention in schools in Kisumu County where pupils are facilitated with Tablets was lauded as a major step forward in providing for classroom resources.
As a result, government has been encouraged to introduce digital devices that have all books required for the school curriculum.
Currently, a tablet cost up to $ 70 (Sh5,700 and could be out of reach for many poor families.
The PRIMR mid-term evaluation report also recommends that targeted lesson plans for English, Kiswahili and Mathematics designed by the Ministry be availed to teachers.
A cost less than US$ 2 or Sh168 per subject per pupils was also seen as a threshold to achieving universal literacy and math levels.
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Uncertainty at school where pupils share ‘bush classroom’ with snakes
Salabani Primary in Baringo South is literally a bush school.
In the last two months, pupils have been learning in the bush, dodging snakes and hippos after the school was submerged by water from Lake Baringo.
Each class is assigned a specific tree, which also acts as an anchor to the mobile blackboards. As the more than 500 pupils compete for shade in the sweltering Baringo heat (currently 36 degrees Celsius) they also have to contend with insects and ants.
According to deputy headmaster Joel Chemjor, the flooding began claiming part of the school grounds in September last year. Two months ago, the entire school was under water.
“The children are very discouraged,” he says. “Snakes are crawling around as the pupils try to concentrate on their studies and the dust is also not good for them. Many of them have flu.”
The teachers’ quarters, the library, the school store and 18 toilets have been submerged as well. What was once the playground is now a mass of water, with a layer of greenish-yellow hyacinth.
Salabani Secondary School students are using the partially submerged classrooms as bathrooms, oblivious of the health risk posed.
Teachers have been forced to take refuge in nearby houses, but those are just temporary premises as most of their property remains under water. Children are difficult to manage because they are all over the bush. But that is the least of their problems, as they live each day afraid that the swelling lake might also swallow their living quarters.
The 500 pupils use three mobile toilets, each five feet deep. Their teachers use toilets at Salabani Secondary School, which is a kilometre away.
Another threat is from Lake Baringo hippopotamus. The animals invade the area from 7.00pm and leave at 6.00am. Nobody dares be in the school compound between the two hours.
The pupils pupils have no shoes and have to contend with thorns of the infamous Mathenge bush and poisonous cactus.
“Even the pupils’ population has reduced drastically and our classes are leaner these days. Parents have resorted to transferring their children to distant primary schools such as Lomayana and Eldepe Isinya. The rest are here because they have no choice,” says Mr Chemjor.
The ground on which the school stands belongs to the local Salabani Catholic Church.
Class Eight pupils are using the small church as their classroom to revise before sitting for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) a week from now.
There can never be a more unsuitable place to learn and revise.
The small church is not only stuffy, but also too dark in the afternoons.
Sammy Sarikoki is a 14-year-old KCPE candidate He finds the environment too uncomfortable to concentrate on his revision.
“In the mornings, it is too cold for us and in the afternoon, it gets too hot and too dark. You can barely see. It is almost impossible to study in here,” says Sarikoki.
But the pupils and teachers have maintained their composure and remain cheerful. They are warm, welcoming and well behaved and they remain optimistic that they will one day have welcoming premises to call school.
ONE DAY AT A TIME
Some teachers walk eight kilometres a day to and from the school, living one day at a time.
“It is very frustrating,” says Mr Moses Kiptalam. “But we show up to work for the sake of these children, and particularly those in Standard Eight who are about to sit their exams. We have the duty to shape their minds and we are here to build their future.”
Several government officials, including Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku have visited the school in the last two months with promises of relocating them to other premises. But they remained just promises.
Area MP Grace Kipchoim says a new school is being built on a 16-acre piece plot and will be completed before the end of the December holidays.
“For now, Standard Eight pupils will sit their KCPE at the neighbouring Eldebe Isinya Primary School,” she says.
Baringo County Education office keeps saying that help is on its way. Pupils and teachers of Salabani Primary School are still waiting.
“The project (new school) is lagging behind and the problem lies in the community, who are not cooperating,” says Mr Kiptalam.
But according to Ms Kipchoim, work is ongoing and is set to be completed over the December holidays.
“The interior Cabinet secretary Mr Lenku promised to support us in whatever way he can and so far, iron sheets have been donated,” she says.
Another school affected by the Lake Baringo flooding is Ngambo Secondary School.
29 January 2014, 12.10am GMT
Free education in Kenya is a failed promise
By Ken Ramani
During the run up to Kenya’s 2002 general elections, presidential candidate Mwai Kibaki promised to make primary education free for all Kenyans.
True to his word, when his coalition won the election and he formed a government, Kibaki directed that no child should be charged fees in any of the country’s 20,000 public primary schools. The government told the whole world it was offering free primary education. Donor agencies such as the UK’s Department for International Development and the World Bank flocked to support Kenya’s education sector.
Now, more than ten years later, a group of parents is suing a government minister angry that many schools are still charging fees. As education experts the world over pore of the results of UNESCO’s Education for All Global Monitoring Report, it’s clear there is still a long way to go to reach the goal of global universal primary education by 2015.
Under the free primary education law, families that had lost hope of ever sending their children to school got excited, turning up in large numbers to enrol them. But classes were congested. Teachers were overwhelmed. Some classes had about 100 pupils. Old geeks such as octagenarian Kimani Ng’ang’a Maruge joined Class One. He now holds the Guinness World Record for the oldest person to start primary school.
But more teachers were not recruited. More desks were not provided. The great promise slowly turned into a frustrating experience for both parents and teachers.
Parents were still expected to buy uniforms and pay for numerous fees charged to keep schools running as the government could not cover costs such as security, maintenance of structures or general staff. After the dust had settled, parents who could not afford the fees had to keep their children at home for lack of basic school requirements.
To survive, teachers reduced the amount of assignments they used to give pupils. The personalised attention children had been used to became history.
The free primary education promise has failed because it was a political pledge that was never translated into a policy framework complete with requisite resources and personnel.
The priority should have been to construct enough classrooms and boarding facilities in existing schools, hire more teachers and plan for meals in schools, all of which could have attracted and retained children in school.
Kenya’s education system is sick and requires urgent expert attention and political goodwill. It requires a political class that can provide the required resources. It requires experts that can point out the rot and mop it up without thinking about political repercussions.
Teachers are poorly motivated. They have to threaten to strike to be promoted. Teachers’ unions have to do a lot of convincing – including coercion – for the Kenya’s Teachers Service Commission, which employs the country’s teachers, to improve their lot.
Retired teachers have struggled to get the pensions and terminal benefits due to them. The number of former teachers is rising, thanks to natural attrition, deaths, resignations and desertions.
Free primary education has turned out to be a big lie. We should call it subsidised primary education. But the subsidy is so small that headteachers have been pleading for increasing funding to take care of escalating inflation.
As a result, schools have been introducing all sorts of charges which parents are forced to pay to keep their children in school. Threats by government mandarins to punish headteachers who charge illegal fees have come to nothing.
In Kenya, the teaching profession has become a very dangerous career choice. If exam results show that a school has not done as well as expected, teachers can become targets for angry communities. In some cases, teachers have been assaulted. In others, parents demand the transfer of headteachers for their laziness and complacency.
Ten years on, Kibaki’s promise of free primary education is faced with serious trouble. Not to be left behind, Kenya’s new president Uhuru Kenyatta has come forth with yet another grandiose laptop project that may define his legacy either way. The government is planning to give free laptops to all children in the first class of primary school. But the programme has been delayed over costs.
Most of the children to whom the government plans to give laptops walk to school barefooted, wear torn uniforms and go hungry. Others still learn under trees. Most teachers are computer illiterate. How on earth will they be expected to help pupils use the laptops as learning aids?
The primary schools have very poor security safeguards for both teachers and children. How safe will the laptops be? Can a six-year-old child safely carry a laptop to school and back home without messing it up or attracting petty thieves along the way?
The fortunes of education in Kenya will only be turned around when the political class starts involving experts when they make their election campaign pledges. They should only make and implement pledges that the economy can sustain beyond their political lifespan.
Half of schools to miss laptops
Some 11,065 primary schools will not immediately benefit from the laptop project due to lack of electricity.
Some 11,065 primary schools will not immediately benefit from the laptop project due to lack of electricity.
The Rural Electrification Authority (REA), that has been tasked with ensuring power connectivity all over the country, has reported that it has only managed 48 per cent connections for schools.
Only 10,157 schools countrywide are connected to the national grid with the project set to be rolled out by the government next month.
According to a REA report, about 3,500 schools would be connected by the end of this financial year through grid extension while 400 would benefit from solar PV connections in areas outside the grids.
The report further stated that there was no commitment to connect the remaining 5,757 schools any time soon. It comes amid controversy over the procurement of 1.2 million laptops for Standard One learners at a cost of Sh24 billion. (READ: Laptop tender sparks bitter war in Jubilee)
The government will pay Sh14.7 billion for the laptops this financial year and the balance next year.
“The budget for the devices was estimated at about Sh12.7 billion, while the actual cumulative cost of the devices from the lowest bidders is Sh24.6 billion. This leaves a budget deficit of about Sh10.1 billion,” said Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang.
Dr Kipsang defended the procurement of the laptops, insisting the process was above board. (READ: MPs: Firm unfit to supply laptops)
“We do not want to engage in rumours. But we will wait for the appeal process to be concluded,” he said.
On Monday, the Nation obtained due diligence report detailing the findings of the committee that toured the factories and offices of the lowest bidder in China and in India.
The report, approved by the ministerial tender committee, is now subject of the appeal filed by Haier and Hewlett-Parkard Europe BV, who have challenged the award of the multi-billion-shilling tender to the Indian company.
Kyocera Document Solutions beat Haier to win the tender to supply 20,637 printers at a cost of Sh172.1 million, while Viviright Company Limited was automatically selected to supply 20,637 projectors at a cost of Sh751.2 million.
MPs have questioned the rationale for the procurement of printers and projectors arguing that standard one pupils don’t need them.
Board cancels Sh24.6b school laptop tender awarded to Indian firm
Updated Wednesday, March 12th 2014 at 08:00 GMT +3
By Augustine Oduor and Kurian Musa
Kenya: The Sh24.6 billion laptops tender for Standard One pupils â€” which is at the heart of President Kenyattasâ€™s pre-election pledge â€” has been cancelled after an appeals board found the award to an Indian firm questionable.
The jolt to the programme Jubilee administration wanted rolled out in the first year could be considered unsettling to the Uhuru team because it was supposed to have been rolled out in the first year of office by the team that took over last year April 9.
The Public Procurement Administrative Review Board ruled that Olive Telecommunications Pvt Limited did not win the tender fairly as the probe unearthed irregular dealings and found the Indian firm was favoured.
Olive, which was awarded the tender by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, does not have the financial capability to supply the 1.2 million gadgets.
The board said the annual turnover of the firm between 2010 and 2012 was between Sh6 million and Sh768 million, which was below the Sh8 billion minimum required for supply of the gadgets.
See also: MPs now enjoined in suit against county
The board also found that Olive received preferential treatment. Information on feedback on the progress of tendering was not the same to all bidders as Olive obtained more detailed information.
It was also determined that the committee that awarded the tender to Olive did not consider the fact that the last quotations had been altered from the initial asking price, contrary to the Procurement Act.
The Board also found out that Olive was not in a joint venture with another Chinese firm, as they submitted to the review board.
â€œThere was no joint venture document supplied to the board,â€ said the procurement watchdog.
In their surprise verdict affecting a tender at the heart of the president and Jubilee manifesto, the board asked the Ministry of Education to undertake fresh re tendering and complete the entire process within a period of 45 days.
Â The review board, however, said the tendering process must not start afresh but from the Best And Final Offer (Bafo) stage.Â â€œThe only parties that shall be allowed to participate further in the process shall be HP and Haier Electrical Appliances,â€ said Josephine Wambua Mongâ€™are, chairperson of the board, shutting the door against Olive.
â€˜The tender committee is directed to proceed with the tender process from the point of opening of the best and final offers and thereafter conduct due diligence in accordance with the criteria set under clauses 34.2, 34.3 and 34.4 of tender document,â€™ reads the boardâ€™s ruling.
In addition to this, the board has directed that the â€œprocuring entity shall deduct any sum wrongly added on to the contract sum for any of the two parties best and final offers deducted.â€
Olive had quoted Sh1.4 billion over and above their original price. This means that the laptops tender award will not go beyond Sh23.2 billion in the next tender award.
Even then, Olive will be locked out of the entire process once it resumes. The board however absolved any of the firms from a financial burden. Ms Mongâ€™are said the first determination of the board was to ascertain whether it had jurisdiction to determine review of the tender.
She said one of the complaints lodged by Chinese firm, Haier Electrical Appliances Corporation Limited and Hewlett-Packard (HP) Limited from Europe was whether Olive met the financial, technical and production capabilities to deliver the equipment.
Now Watch: Tender for supply of laptops to primary schools cancelled
Ms Mongâ€™are said the financial requirements were audited balance sheets, financial statements and soundness of the bidders.
Level of evaluation
She also said the firm was to â€œdemonstrate access to availability to financial resources such as liquid assets and accompanied real assets and other financial means other than any contractual advance payment.â€
She noted: â€œThe firm was also to have experience of supply in three contracts in at least five past years with an average value of Sh500 million successfully and substantially completed.â€ The review board also said that Olive was not an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and was not qualified to bid. It also said Olive did not tender as a joint venture as earlier indicated. The Indian firm indicated that it had partnered with another to supply, install and maintain the laptops through the existing networks. The board said Olive should have not been allowed to move to the next level of evaluation after it submitted its bid as a joint venture while this was contrary.
Evidence before the board showed that the procurement committee of the Education ministry awarded the tender to Olive in contravention of the ITT requirements.
It further noted that Olive does not have a distribution network of its own and intended to supply the 1.2 million laptops through â€œan non-existent-partnershipâ€ with a company that manufactures computers. Knut Secretary General Wilson Sossion said teachers are not bothered by the manner in which the laptops are sent to children.Â â€œThere is a general excitement over the project. If they cannot send the laptops by end of this month then let them use that money to pay teachers because they are already teaching the pupils.â€
Sunday, March 16, 2014
Laptop tender price was topped up by Sh1.4b, rules review board
By JOHN NJAGI
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More than Sh1.4 billion was added to the laptop tender amount when it was awarded to Indian company Olive Telecommunications PVT, the Public Procurement Administration Review Board says.
The Board says initially Olive had quoted US $ 268,899,669 or Sh24,286,711,335/50, but when the tender was awarded, Education Secretary Prof Jacob Kaimenyi, announced a sum of US $ 284,899,669 representing a price addition of about Sh1.4 billion above the declared best and final offers.
The board says it looked at 10 issues raised by the two parties in the Sh24 billion laptop project before reaching its verdict.
On whether, or not Olive was an original equipment manufacturer and allowing them to participate in the tender process breached the law, the review board found that Olive was not an original equipment manufacturer and therefore did not qualify.
The board also found the firm not only failed to meet the mandatory threshold stipulated in the tender document, but there was also no joint venture between it and any other company.
The lawyers for the Indian company Sunday said they have lined up a number of issues and inconsistencies in the board’s ruling.
The lawyers will be presenting evidence in court on Monday, that the ruling was unfair and that there was a deliberate bid to award the tender to second-placed company, Hewlett Packard Europe -BV.
“Due diligence will be done to the company that emerged second and will be the one that will be awarded the tender. Why go through the process instead of awarding the tender to Hewlett-Packard Company and save taxpayers money,” said Olive Communications chairman Mr Arun Khanna.
Although it was the third bidder China’s Haier Electricals Appliances Corporation Ltd that asked for review, it would miss out because no due diligence would be done on the company, he said.
Mr Khanna said a decision would be made whether the verdict would be challenged in the High Court.
“We are not happy with the decision but our lawyers will advise on whether we will be appealing it in court,” he said.
However, a source in the Indian company but who requested anonymity, said the issue of appealing the decision in the High Court was almost a forgone conclusion.
One of the issues in contention would be the board’s ruling against Olive communications, on grounds that it would rely on contract manufacturers –Chinese company Century Electronics in the case of Olive- to make laptops for standard one pupils and yet major companies including the three top bidders rely on such companies mostly situated in China.
High Court nullifies tender for free laptops project
A three-judge bench has nullified the Sh24.6 billion tender for the supply of laptops to primary schools.
A three-judge bench has nullified the Sh24.6 billion tender for the supply of laptops to primary schools.
Judges George Kimondo, George Odunga and Mumbi Ngugi on Wednesday said their ruling is meant to “promote equity and cost effectiveness in the tendering process.”
The tender is for the supply of 1.3 million laptops to Class One pupils in public schools and is one of the Jubilee government’s pet projects.
The dispute started when the public procurement board cancelled the contract awarded to Indian firm Olive Telecommunications PVT Ltd on the grounds that the company did not meet the financial requirement set in the tender document and was not an original equipment manufacturer.
(READ: Blow for Uhuru as firm picked to supply laptops is rejected)
The review board then gave the government 45 days within which to re-evaluate bids by computer firms HPU of the Netherlands and Haier of China and award a new supply tender.
The ministry had awarded the tender to Olive at a cost of Sh24.6 billion, which the board found was Sh1.4 billion more than the price quoted by the winning bidder before negotiations with the ministry.
Olive Communications Ltd (OTL) went to court seeking judicial review of the decision to cancel the laptop tender and its subsequent exclusion from a new bidding process.
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