Challenges Facing President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Laptop Promise: Part 4

Children waiting for Uhuru's laptops

Children waiting for Uhuru’s laptops

As Uhuru’s laptops promise for the 2014 Class One children develops into reality, it is important to highlight some learning challenges within Kenyan public primary schools. Further, what are the efforts being made to integrate ICT in education?

Kenya’s education system is undergoing reforms to align itself with Vision 2030 and the new Constitution, promulgated in 2010. For instance, in January 2011, The Task Force on the Re-alignment of the Education Sector to the Constitution of Kenya 2010 (TF) was commissioned by then-Education minister Professor Sam Ongeri. In order to meet its objectives, it “undertook a detailed situational analysis of the education sector by reviewing the Education Act, various commission reports, other relevant policy and legal documents; Benchmarking with good practices from countries with national and county governments and also received submissions by various stakeholders. The TF held County cluster stakeholder consultation forums and also analyzed memoranda submitted to it.” (See education.go.ke).

The TF presented its report in February 2012 and a pertinent observation on ICT in education was that: “only about 2% of schools in the country have the necessary ICT infrastructure. It recommended that ICT institutional framework be strengthened to allow efficient integration of ICT in the entire education sector with enhanced ICT capacity at all levels and for the establishment of a National Centre for ICT Integration in Education (NACICTIE) and be devolved to counties. It also called for the provision of technical backup in ICT initiatives in government learning educational institutions.”

The following ICT-related recommendations by the TF are posted at global-economic-symposium.org:
•    The development of digital content has been progressing well at the Kenya Institute of Education (KIE), now the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD).
•    An ICT Curriculum has been introduced at teacher training level.
•    The proposed 10-Year Master Plan for ICT in Education will ensure that ICT development will be holistic and integrated with all levels of education. This will produce citizens knowledgeable and skilled in using ICT as well as having the ability to compete with the outside world as envisioned in the KENYA VISION 2030.
•    A National Centre for ICT in Education (NACICTIE) will be established, complete with a National Help Desk and Support Section.
•    Enhancement of Public-Private-Partnership for ICT investment in education and training.
•    Provision of computers in schools based on the following ratios:
o    one desktop per 15 learners, and one laptop per teacher;
o    projected costs for implementation of ICT Master Plan in Education (2010–2015):
•    Launching of educational broadcasting services throughout the country.
o    In March 2011, former President Kibaki launched the broadcasting station granting the KICD a fully dedicated digital educational broadcast channel (Radio and Television) with outreach to all areas of the country.

Learning situation for teachers and pupils

Generally, Teacher Education in Kenya lacks a policy framework and the teaching profession is not well defined. Only a few teachers have a clearly defined career development plan. The results of a World Bank survey titled: ‘Service Delivery Indicators (SDI) for Kenya’, were made public on July 12, 2013. “The main objective of the new SDI initiative, which is an Africa-wide programme, is to generate data on quality service delivery that can then help citizens to hold their government and service providers accountable, and push for change that delivers better results for them.”

“Increasing accountability for education and health services is at the heart of the Service Delivery Indicators,” says Ritva Reinikka, Director of Human Development for Africa at the World Bank. “These new data will help governments and service providers take specific actions to deliver better services and to track the impact of reforms across time as the surveys are repeated.” SDI can also help governments achieve greater efficiency of public spending. “Unless you know where exactly the problem is, you can’t fix it,” Reinikka notes. “Governments today are often operating within tight budgets that already devote a large share of resources to health and education—so honing in on the issues and spending money more smartly is really critical.” (See worldbank.org).

A key finding in the SDI survey was that, in terms of service delivery, Kenyan teachers do not work at all or merely engage in other non-teaching activities while at school. The survey of 300 schools revealed that teachers in public primary schools spent only two hours and 40 minutes daily to teach pupils. Further, these teachers were 50% less likely to be in class compared to those of private schools; and only one third of them “give students value for money.” Public school pupils received an average of 20 days less teaching a term, compared to those in private schools. In addition, only 35% of teachers in public schools “showed mastery of the subjects they taught” while “seniority and years of training did not correlate with higher levels of knowledge.” Kenyan schools do well in terms of “hardware” i.e. textbooks, equipment and infrastructure, but not on “software” which is: “the level of effort and knowledge among teachers.” Around 80% of schools had adequate lighting facilities for reading, and there were enough textbooks per pupil – more than the recommended three per pupil. (In: standardmedia.co.ke on July 20, 2013). The SDI findings recommended that human resource management be improved to realize quality education.

The results of another study which investigated why some Kenyan schools performed well while others continually performed poorly in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) indicated that: “mathematics teachers in Kenya’s primary schools had a poor understanding of the subject.” ‘The Classroom Observation Study in Nairobi’ was conducted by the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) between May 2009 and March 2010. The participants were: 2,443 pupils, 72 mathematics teachers and 72 head/deputy headteachers. Teachers scored a mean grade of 60.5% in mathematics tests with a margin of 13% difference from the pupils’ outcome at 46.89%. One teacher scored 17% despite being in the profession for five years. APHRC researchers felt that their poor scores contributed to the poor performance by the pupils.

But a teacher in Central Kenya blamed the government for not providing the right teaching aids “that would demystify mathematics and science as difficult subjects.” Trade unions for teachers blamed the government too for not training enough teachers for these specialties. Teachers are overloaded with a requirement by the Education ministry to teach six subjects daily, especially in overcrowded classrooms. (See aphrc.org and ipsnews.net).

On April 27, 2013 Lee-Anne Benoit posted an outline of Kenya’s system of education and personal observations made during her educational trip to Kenya. (See: ‘Students for Development Blog’ – sfdblog.ca). A section of her piece states that: “In addition to overcrowded classrooms, teachers face many challenges, which in turn affect student performance. Firstly, they are under a great deal of pressure to teach all of the curriculum outcomes in order to prepare students for their examinations. Combined with a lack of funding and classroom space, teachers are at a loss when it comes to planning creative lessons. Secondly, teachers face a strong tradition of teaching practice that is both historically and culturally embedded. Attitudes towards change can be stubborn, making transformation a slow process. Thirdly, teachers lack an appropriate amount of support and assistance within the classroom as well as opportunities for professional development. As it stands, resource and literacy programs are virtually non-existent in schools, and the government cannot afford to pay for assistants within the classroom. Few primary schools can even afford a library. Fourthly, and in part due to distance, there are barriers to communication between home and school, which negatively impacts student progress. Lastly, primary school teachers work for very low wages, which can be demotivating for some, ultimately affecting their professional pedagogical practice. For many teachers and students alike, school can be a truly sink or swim endeavor.”

Poor literacy and numeracy outcomes

A survey report titled: ‘Are our children learning? Annual Assessment Report’ by Uwezo Kenya for 2012, notes that there is at least one computer out of 10 schools in Kenya and only five out of the ten use them for learning purposes. Meanwhile, only one out of ten schools has an email address. Uwezo tested over 153,000 children in all the 47 counties across Kenya. The report which was launched on July 23, 2013 painted a grim picture of learning processes within the free primary education (FPE) program. Excerpts from standardmedia.co.ke are posted verbatim below. (Also visit uwezo.net).

“Kisumu, Tina River, Turkana, Siaya, Garissa and Samburu counties have the lowest average of children in class three who can read a story and do a division of simple maths for class two. By class five, 33 per of the children cannot read and understand simple class two English stories, or hadith in Kiswahili. A class three child in Nairobi Province is twice as likely to read a class two level paragraph than a child in the same class in Western Province. Girls are better readers than boys in Kiswahili nationally, except in arid areas of Wajir, Garissa, Tina River and Mandera. The report also shows that seven out of 100 class eight children cannot read a class two level Kiswahili story. The findings also established that 11 out of 100 pupils in class eight couldn’t do a simple class two math while seven out of 100 of them couldn’t read a simple English or a Kiswahili story. Less than half of class three children in Western, Nyanza and Eastern Regions can read a class two level paragraph, with a class three child in Nairobi having twice as much chances of reading a class two level paragraph than a child in the same class in Western region.”

According to Lee-Anne Benoit: “There is much speculation that the poor performance of public school graduates on the KCPE examinations is due to a number of specific factors. For example, because of the increased enrollment in primary schools in 2003, teachers had to contend with extraordinarily large class sizes made up of a diverse range of students whose preparedness varied. Circumstances such as these diminish a teacher’s ability to differentiate their instruction and give individualized attention. Resources and materials are spread thin and mobility within classrooms becomes limited. It is thought that this large influx of “first generation learners” has contributed to declining test scores in the public school system (Glennerster and Kremer, 2011). It is also thought that poor performance in primary schools is perpetuated by an increasing stratification between public and private schools. This disparity becomes all the more clear when considering the disparity between the KCPE scores of public and private school graduates (Glennerster and Kremer, 2011). Under qualified teachers has also been stated as a factor as well as corruption.”

The Government of Kenyan needs to invest more resources in research and development (R&D), to be on the cutting edge of science. Former East Asian Tigers (South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore) leapfrogged the Western-based stages of economic development by investing heavily in science and technology (S&T). These countries developed a manufacturing and export-driven economic model which had its genesis in capital accumulation since the 1960s. Although they suffered immensely during the Asian economic crisis in 1997-98, they have regrouped to be a financial hub worth emulating by other developing countries. This region also invests heavily in higher education.

Kenyan politicians recall now and then how the country was on the same economic development level with South Korea in the 1960s, yet are doing very little to get the country back on track. With misplaced budget allocations favoring their huge salaries and allowances at the expense of poorly paid teachers, nurses and other civil servants, Kenyan politicians can only dream of meeting the Vision 2030 program, which aims to industrialize the country. Although competitive grants are offered to university students through the National Council for Science and Technology, there is no indication that Kenya is producing enough scientists to contribute to national development.

Jared Odero

RELATED:

Challenges facing President Uhuru Kenyattas laptop promise: Part 1

Challenges facing President Uhuru Kenyattas laptop promise: Part 2

Challenges facing President Uhuru Kenyattas laptop promise: Part 3

29 comments

  • ICC Should jail Uhuru and Ruto then >The Kikuyus Living in The Rift Valley can live in Peace for Ever!<<< the fear of the ICC forced loosers of 2013 from violence >the world was amazed how peaceful elections were held in Kenya >But why? Bacouse of fear of the Most dreaded Court in the whole world>Observe>>The Kiambaa Church Remnants are fearing of their Lives hence Ruto tribes keeps on threatening them: they are forced to utter the following Nonsense and Hogwash!
    http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/article-136372/eldorets-kiambaa-residents-want-cases-dropped

  • Primary school laptops procurement underway, President Uhuru Kenyatta says
    Updated Tuesday, September 3rd 2013 at 17:34 GMT +3

    MOMBASA; KENYA: President Uhuru Kenyatta has disclosed that preparation for a rigorous, cost-effective and accountable procurement of laptops is underway, moving the implementation of his Jubilee administration’s programme closer to fruition.

    President Uhuru said all public primary school managers will have to update their capacity to implement a technology-based curriculum as government rolls out the laptop programme.

    “My administration has embarked on the initiative to supply children commencing primary school with laptops,” President Uhuru told the 9th annual conference of the Kenya Primary School Head Teachers Association at Sheikh Zayyed Children’s Centre in Kisauni, Mombasa.

    He emphasised government’s determination to raise a generation of Kenyans who will be equipped – at the earliest possible point in their lives – with globally competitive competencies. This will give Kenya the edge it needs in innovation, service and industry to lead the region and continent, he said.

    “The transformation has begun, and there is no looking back. It is taking place in the classroom, we are serious,” the President said.

    He pointed out that the laptops will usher in an era of interactive, student-centred teaching that will free teachers to mentor pupils and perform their core educational roles.

    The President said the laptop programme will also bring electric power connection to many primary schools in the country for the first time.

    In addition to the laptops project, the Jubilee administration plans to triple current electricity capacity of 1,600 megawatts to at least 5,000 megawatts in just three years.

    “As far as child friendly initiatives go, nothing promises greater gains in our time. The laptops usher in “new beginnings” and an “enormous birth.” Please embrace them,” President Uhuru said, quoting from “the Mental Flight”, a book by famed Nigerian author Ben Okri.

    Apart from imparting knowledge and skills, the President said the education system must focus on the quality and integrity of the citizen it is nurturing. The education system should inculcate intellectual probity and national cohesion that will curb corruption, tribalism and lack of civic-mindedness that have wrought unimaginable damage to the national fabric, he said.

    “We require a system that honours competitiveness without demoting consideration for others. The ethos of selflessness and service must find its way back into the classroom, somehow, and into the minds and hearts of our children,” the President said.

  • 18 September 2013 Last updated at 17:22 GMT

    Kenya IT hubs launched for primary schools

    Eighteen digital hubs for Kenyan primary schools, allowing pupils access to computers and the internet, have been officially launched.

    Funded by the British council and Microsoft, they are intended to serve more than 100 schools.

    The BBC’s Frenny Jowi says a hub she visited in Nairobi had 21 computers.

    Give the numbers, they seem like a drop in the ocean, but the scheme is a significant step for Kenya’s state education sector, she says.

    Kenya’s 639 state primary schools are often overcrowded, with up to 1,000 pupils at each institution, our reporter says.

    The hub at the Kilimani School in the capital, Nairobi, will be serving five schools altogether – and sessions will be timetabled.

    ‘Easy to use’

    But our reporter says it was evident that the pupils at Kilimani were enjoying the computer lab.

    “The computers are easier to use and give a lot of information about what you are studying,” one 10-year-old boy told the BBC.

    Each desktop computer is loaded with Microsoft’s Encarta reference encyclopaedia.

    The digital hubs now also have full and free internet access following a three-year deal with telecoms giant Bharti Airtel, the British Council said.

    They have been built over the last year and during that time, some 2,000 teachers have been trained in IT skills, it said.

    Kilimani’s headmaster Gideon Wasike said there has already been a positive effect on students since the pilot hub had opened in August 2012.

    “It has motivated them and has raised their esteem and their interest in learning,” he told the BBC.

    “They’re able to do a lot of research on their own.”

    Many of Kenya’s public schools are overcrowded, with few facilities
    Our correspondent says the hub project – dubbed Badiliko, meaning “change” in kiSwahili – was officially launched at a ceremony at Kilimani school on Wednesday morning.

    The scheme has also been launched in eight other sub-Saharan countries, establishing 127 digital hubs in total.

    In recent years, Kenya has become a centre for information technology – and the government has launched a project to build a new city by 2033 intended to be an IT business hub called Konza Technology City and nicknamed “Africa’s Silicon Savannah”.

    Our reporter says that while Kenya’s many private schools have long had computers for students, the state sector struggles even to provide enough text books.

    One of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s election pledges this year was to provide pupils starting junior school next year with a free laptop.

    But it has proved a controversial plan, with critics saying it is a luxury given that many state schools do not have enough classrooms, teachers and even toilets, our reporter says.

  • Uhuru Mungiki Fanatics!

    A million match will go to hague to Prove to the ICC Uhuru is Kenya and Kenya is Kikuyu We fought United Kingdom Under Mau-Mau bWhat is ICC We will come there and meet Face To face >Kikuyu are God’s AnnoitedAnd UHURU KENYATTA Is Our King > Read the Kikuyu Mungiki Impunity Who will hire Buses/Trains/ Airlines to bring millions at the Hague>Many supporters of Jubilee and President Uhuru Kenyatta are busy making final arrangements to join President Uhuru Kenyatta in Hague early next month. Many in Europe and other areas are ready to go. Those in UK intend to go with buses, railway and air. More information later.If you would like to join the team to Hague you can register with Mr. Kariuki on 07756087096.

  • IF KEnya case was tranfered to Nairobi ICC Prosecutor And Judges would be Lynched by UHURU& RUTO fanatics>Watch the Video>

  • Why were they selected only Fat-assed Over-fed Elephant looking Uhuru/Ruto Lackeys>Women who lacks Common Sense >Their Primitive behaviour Proves These women do not deserve any respect they are all Jezebels Kwani wana kula Nguruwe Sura bovu wote!

  • Read how this Barbarian Ruto and his Kalenjin Worriers did to Kikuyu children /mothers/old young and Sick then Ruto wants the case to thrown out hence killing Madoadoa(rats)whom Ruto believe they deserve such a heinous death>The first witness gave a harrowing account of the attack on Kiambaa Church where 30 women and children were burnt to death.

    Her testimony captured the cruelty of the January 1, 2008 attacks in which, she said, assailants threw her baby into the raging inferno at the church

  • No longer At Ease

    Challage facing Uhuru&Ruto read here >Thingd fall Apart >The River that changes its Course>

    http://middleeastvoices.voanews.com/2013/09/insight-why-syria-is-like-iraq-61623/?from=mevlister

  • VOA on Kenyan schools

    09/09/2013
    Free Education for Poor Kenyan Girls

    Hello there, and welcome to As It Is — VOA’s daily show for people learning American English!

    I’m Christopher Cruise in Washington.

    Today on the program, we report on a promise by the Kenyan government to give free laptop computers to first-year students.

    “And it will also give the children a chance to, 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.”

    But first, we take you to the first-ever free school for girls in a poor neighborhood in Kenya’s capital.

    Nairobi School Teaches Girls, Improves Community
    The Kibera School for Girls in Nairobi offers free tuition, uniforms, books and meals to girls who qualify. The students are from pre-kindergarten through the fourth grade. The school is the first to offer free education for girls in the area.

    Milagros Ardin tells us about the school.

    The people of Kibera struggle to provide themselves with food, shelter, clean water and good schools.

    Girls face the additional problems of discrimination and violence. When money for school is lacking, parents and guardians usually withdraw their daughters from school before their sons.

    The Kibera School for Girls works to help the community understand the value of education. Parents do not have to pay. But a family member must work at the school five weeks a year as a way for them to support a child’s education. Girls are chosen based on the possibilities for their success as students and on financial need.

    ​​Ten-year-old Joyce Achieng is one of these students. She says that girls need more chances, especially in Kibera, where she has seen a lot of suffering.

    “It is important because when they don’t go to school, they will not achieve their goals and their dreams will not come true, and they will not be what they want to be in the future.”

    Anne Atieno Olwando is the school’s headmistress. She believes that girls like Joyce will have a better chance of overcoming the effects of being poor by getting a quality education.

    “It’s one of my passions to make them realize that you didn’t choose, you didn’t sign to be born where you were born but you can choose to go where you want to be in the future.”

    Helping women make better futures is why Kennedy Odede established the school almost four years ago. He says that growing up in Kibera, he hated seeing that more boys than girls could go to school.

    In 2004, Mr. Odede started a community movement that later became the organization called Shining Hope for Communities. He wanted to make life better for girls as well as boys.

    He said he began to see communities through the eyes of his mother and sister. But he worried some people might feel unhappy that only students were getting a better life. Mr. Odede wanted everyone in the community to feel improvement in their lives. Today, the school provides services for everyone in the area, not just students.

    People can stop by Shining Hope for Communities to get clean water or use a clean bathroom. They can sign up for computer training or visit the medical center. Women suffering from violence at home can get advice and assistance.

    I’m Milagros Ardin.

    The Promise of Free Laptops for Kenyan Students
    Shortly after he was elected, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta promised to give laptop computers to every first-year student in the country’s schools. Some people question whether Kenya is ready, and whether the president’s plan can really succeed.

    The Muthaiga primary school is just outside the capital, Nairobi. First-year students there currently learn the traditional way — with chalkboards, textbooks and memorization.

    Muthaiga’s head teacher Bernadette Owino said the new technology will help her students learn.

    “The world is becoming a small village, and you need to connect with the rest of the world, if you’re only computer literate. 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.”

    ​​Educators and students may be excited and pleased about the government’s laptop program. But others say the country is not ready. That is because many teachers still are not able to use computers themselves. And a lot of schools are in poor condition and do not have electricity.

    The post-primary teachers’ union says it supports the idea of giving computers to first-year students. But the union’s Secretary General — Akelo Misori — says students and teachers must first meet basic requirements.

    “If basic skills of math and reading are still a challenge in our primary schools, then it means therefor that the introduction of technology to, in schools through laptops is not, may not be a viable component of our learning circumstances now.”

    The laptop program was a major campaign promise of Mr. Kenyatta, who won election in March by a narrow vote.

    ​​The idea started at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Nairobi.

    Providing laptop computers for all first-year schoolchildren in Kenya is expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars. The government hopes to begin providing the computers to students early next year.

    And that’s “As It Is” for today. It was written from reports by Jill Craig and Gabe Joselow in Kenya.

    We hope you enjoyed our program.

    Every day on “As It Is,” we report on issues that concern you. Tell us what you want to hear on a future show.

    http://learningenglish.voanews.com/content/kenya-kibera-free-laptops-jomo-uhura-kenyatta/1743390.html

  • laptops are not food

    Random Kelvin thoughts: The free laptop promise reminds me of the famous Chinese Great Leap forward economic plan. As history has it, the great leap forward was a fail that left China worse off than before the plan was implemented. I predict the same for the free laptop plan. My apologies to the Standard One class of 2014. First of all, the plan transcends beyond being too ambitious. The plan is unrealistic. Second, Kenyan primary schools face far weightier problems than technology. Limited books, limited spaces in the relatively few public primary schools (compared to the number of pupils wishing to enroll in Standard One annually), few teachers, poor facilities, and the list goes on. Free laptops will not solve these problems, let alone improve the quality of education. Taking rural primary schools into perspective, there is lots that can go wrong with this plan. The literacy levels are really poor owing to the very poor pre-school foundation rural children receive – those attending government pre-school programs. As the Teachers union put it, the literacy levels of the teachers themselves would not allow for the successful integration of laptops into the curriculum. Addressing such conditions such as poor instructor literacy levels, limited school resources and infrastructure to strengthen the quality of education prior to introducing technology would seem as a plausible and more sustainable approach, but not to Uhuru Kenyatta. I shudder thinking of the plan’s cost, given the financial burden the new government has inherited. If the point of the promise is to wow the hearts of six year olds, then I would find not fault in the plan, and would be happy for the little angels. But if the plan is to improve education quality, then a change in strategy is needed. To close, I am a bit skeptical that ‘’our nations challenges’’ as Uhuru Kenyatta put it, as complex as they are, can be won by giving solar powered laptops to Standard One pupils. While technology would spark more interest in education and enhance interaction, it is not, at this moment, a necessity.

    By Katesafrica blogspot

  • Kenya promises one laptop per child

    Jun 29, 2013 12:05 AM

    The new Kenyan government has promised to provide a solar-powered laptop to every class one pupil next year.

    Under the new initiative, the Kenyan government says it will deliver 1.3 million laptops to schoolchildren and expects the project to cost more than 600 million dollars. Plans to implement the promise are already being drawn up, though as yet it’s unclear which low-cost machines will be procured.

    Kenya already has an IT-savvy population; over four-fifths of adults have a mobile and the country has pioneered mobile banking services. Kenya also has the highest number of internet users in sub-Saharan Africa. Recognising the importance of technology to growth and development, the country has embedded digital services in its national development plan and is creating a new technology park, which has been dubbed ‘silicon Savannah’.

    However, some have criticised the government’s new initiative, believing there are other areas where the money is more urgently needed. Around half the population of Kenya live below the national poverty line and in a recent hidden hunger study, Kenya rather shockingly ranked as the second worst country (out of 149) for micronutrient deficiencies in preschool-age children. The study estimates 36% of Kenyan youngsters are stunted and lacking in zinc, 35% are anaemic through iron deficiency and a staggering 85% are lacking in vitamin A. Such deficiencies in nutrition make it hard for children to develop normally and learn well at school.

    Critics, including a commentator in the Guardian, also point to the many areas of education which need improvement before technological advances such as laptops can be of maximum benefit. For example, many schools lack electricity or a reliable power supply. And with a chronic lack of teachers, class sizes are large – on average, there are 47 primary school pupils for each teacher (according to UNESCO estimates for 2010).

    Teacher training is another issue. In nearby Rwanda, a similar scheme provides all nine to twelve year-old pupils with low-cost laptops. But as one teacher explains in a video about schooling in Rwanda at http://www.our-africa.org/rwanda/school, when teachers have no training in Information Communications Technology, it’s extremely hard for schools to get the benefit of the laptops. In Kenya, educationalists have the same worry that digital technology by itself is not the answer and that the resources on this project would be much better spent in improving the system in other ways.

    By Laurinda Luffman for SOS Children

  • In Kenya, a Gov’t Initiative to Give First Graders Solar Powered Laptops

    BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, June 25 2013

    In an effort to catch up to the quickly digitizing world, the Kenyan government will hand out 400,000 free, solar powered laptops next January to Kenyan first graders — the first stage of an effort to provide 1.3 million laptops to students nationwide. The administration claims that when fully implemented, the program will eventually reduce the costs that come with purchasing textbooks, but critics complain that it is expensive and overlooks the nation’s deficit of teachers, desks, books and even buildings.

    President Uhuru Kenyatta defends the program as necessary for students to compete in a technology driven world. However, critics point out that many teachers are not even computer literate. John Mugo, who works at an educational research and advocacy organization called Uwezo Kenya, told the Christian Science Monitor, “The first question therefore is, are the laptops a toy, or learning tool, or both? And are they for school or home use? How are we conceptualizing [their] use? Who will guide these first-graders when the teacher and the parent are helpless with this technology?”

    Microsoft International will help to implement the program. Before January, the company will train all primary school teachers. They will also work with other partners to provide technical support and necessary infrastructure, like Internet connectivity, to the schools.

    In Nairobi earlier this June, when Microsoft International president Jean-Phillippe Courtois pledged support for the program, President Kenyatta asked for the help of his company in creating a local, sustainable model for the program. It would include local assembly of computers and software development, and could be a model for other African countries.

    The successful mobile banking system M-Pesa, which had overwhelming success in Kenya, was also exported to other countries. However, the success of M-Pesa has not yet been replicated elsewhere.

    The Kenya teacher’s union complained that Kenyatta is recklessly spending money on computers when there the country is short 80,000 teachers and when the government has ignored a longstanding request to spend $500 million on recruiting new teachers.

    The parliament agreed to spend $665 million just this month to get the laptop program moving, to the chagrin of teachers who have been waiting for salary raises, in arrears for more than 15 years.

    Kenyatta’s doubters were skeptical that he would follow through on his campaign promise to give laptops to primary school students, but Kenyatta now appears bent on making it happen, regardless of public opinion.

    Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network and the UN Foundation for their generous support of techPresident’s WeGov section.

  • Kenya’s Laptops for Children Initiative

    Posted by Will Mutua

    on July 02 2013

    On March 4th Kenyans went to the polls to elect a new government to steer the country over the next 5 years. One of the candidates, Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta, who subsequently won the election with his Jubilee Coalition, had made a daring campaign promise that many wondered if he would deliver on – to equip every student starting their primary school education with a laptop. So far the plan involves a three-phase approach, with the first one targeting pupils in 6000 schools starting January next year.

    The project has drawn many views, mostly skeptical, of the undertaking from all quarters – teachers, parents, the technology community and the larger public. All the same, Mr. Kenyatta has stuck to his guns on the implementation of the laptops project and provisions have even been made in the country’s budget to this effect. All the while, the practicality and relevance of the project remain in question among many. So does Mr. Kenyatta’s project hold water, or will it turn out to be a white elephant? Let’s examine the situation.

    The Criticisms

    The main criticisms, in summary:

    Lack of Supporting Infrastructure: Many schools in rural areas have no access to electricity, some have dilapidated classrooms and other amenities, not to mention some extreme cases where learning does not even happen inside a classroom. What’s the point of giving these students laptops? Their schools have other more pressing needs.

    Lack of Capacity: There are teachers who are computer-illiterate. What happens when computers break down, who will have the technical skills to troubleshoot these laptops?

    Timing: It’s just not the right time for such an initiative. There are other pressing matters that can be dealt with instead of ‘throwing away’ money in an impractical project. How about jobs, healthcare etc.? And even if it is a matter of enhancing education – why not first hire more teachers, there’s clearly a shortage of them, or pay teachers better?

    But wait, has this been tried elsewhere with a similar context? Yes! In fact a laptop-for-pupils initiative has been attempted by the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative in Kenya. Students in primary schools in West Pokot (2010), Meru (2009) and Kibwezi (2008) were involved in projects that introduced the OLPC device to students. (Also take a look at the 2002 Computers for Schools in Kenya (CFSK) project targeted at secondary school level).

    On a national scale, Rwanda has a thriving program whereby children in primary school are exposed to technology via laptops, which provides a good learning case for us.

    Rwanda’s One Laptop per Child (OLPC) Initiative: A Case Study

    In 2000, Rwanda embarked on a 20-year journey under the ‘Vision 2020′ banner. Among the goals of the Vision 2020 is to transition from an agriculture-based economy to a knowledge-based economy. Education sector reform has been identified by the Rwandan government as a key piece to the puzzle in making this dream come true. As such the government took several initiatives in the education sector to realize the vision.

    Amongst these initiatives is the ongoing OLPC project that envisions placing a laptop in the hands of millions of schoolchildren. However, before we can briefly shed some light on the Rwanda OLPC project and the progress that has been made since 2009/10, when the project got underway. It is worth noting the broad and encompassing approach the Rwandan government has taken. It’s really not so much about placing a laptop in the hands of every schoolchild as it is about this being a strategic piece in a grander strategy to achiever a grand goal – namely, the total conversion of Rwanda. As such, it’s just as much about broader educational reform (e.g. curriculum and content development, check out their Rwanda Education Commons initiative) infrastructural development (from building classrooms to connecting them to the grid), and knowledge/skills transfer & capacity development.

    And how has the Rwanda OLPC faired so far in the roughly two years that the program has been operational: over 200,000 laptops in over 400 schools, 10,000 teachers trained, many new classrooms built and a ton of content developed. (It’s worth noting that Rwanda targets 4th – 6th graders as opposed to Kenya’s targeting of 1st graders). In fact Rwanda’s initiative is a first in Africa and third largest implementation of a 1-to-1 computing in public schools program.

    Observations on the Kenya Case

    1. Not an end, but a means to an end

    In other words, Rwanda’s goal of putting a laptop in the hands of every schoolchild is more of a means rather than an end in itself. I would compare this to the United States’ mission to the moon, the Apollo Program under President John F. Kennedy. Apollo was about putting a man on the moon, but it was really more than that (at least in retrospect). The Apollo Program left a legacy science and engineering – for instance, key research into integrated circuits, the first-time development and use of key technologies – as well as a cultural legacy – how many young Americans dreamed of being astronauts when they grew up and thus pursued math and the sciences with passion?

    This should be the same view Kenya should take to her endeavor. Seeing a bigger picture. Of course seeing the big picture is one thing, communicating it and getting all stakeholders on board is quite another – think of the people who thought Apollo was a waste of taxpayers’ money that could have been better spent on other causes (the same criticism many scientific endeavors encounter).

    2. Strategy: ‘Marathon’ vs. ‘Sprint’

    In an article on the Wall Street Journal, President Kagame states, “There is a view that development is a marathon, not a sprint. We do not agree. Development is a marathon that must be run as a sprint.” I’m not sure what he meant but what is evident is that the problem of education reform is a grand issue, one that calls for well thought out approaches and solutions. Perhaps according to Mr. Kagame, the marathon part is figuring out the right strategy, and once that’s identified then sprint to the finish line. From researching the Rwanda case it is clear that there is a comprehensive strategy in place, just take a look at the Rwanda OLPC Wiki page, or browse through their Facebook and Twitter timelines.

    Initially, it seemed the Kenyan government was just doing this without some plan or was, in a manner of speaking, trying to build the car while driving it. For instance, literally out of the blue the media recently announced that the government was getting into an agreement with Microsoft to provide software for the project. Wait a minute! Is this the best choice? Were other alternatives considered? What was the process that led to the selection of Microsoft as the provider? Was it a public process, seeing as this is a public good? (This isn’t about Microsoft – see point 4 below.)

    However, it is increasingly looking like they just might have a broader strategy in mind; which leads to the next point…

    3. Communication

    Perhaps the greatest failing of the Kenyan government from the start of this project has been the lack of communication of what the plan really is, in a comprehensive manner. Instead, from the outset all the information being given amounted to more or less one sentence “We’re going to give free laptops to primary school children [as soon as we are in government]”. What? How? Why?

    This single factor has probably been the greatest contributor to the skepticism & resistance the government has received to this project. Maybe they had a good plan, but without communicating it, people were left to speculate.

    4. It’s not so much about the technology

    Finally, the country should avoid putting the cart before the horse. Technology – laptops vs. tablets vs. computer laboratories, Microsoft vs. Open Source – is not the main thing. The key outcome is relevant, practical education for the student. Let’s not lose sight of that. Therefore, the government should not appear to be pushing this idea down our throats; all stakeholders should be involved – teachers, parents, the technology industry, even the students themselves – why not?

    Conclusion

    Kenya should consider going next-door to learn from Rwanda’s experience and borrow best practices. After all, it seems the new Kenyan Senate is eager to learn from their counterparts in Rwanda, so let’s be humble and learn in other areas as well.

    Furthermore, the country should strive to seek multiple solutions to the education problem. Private enterprise can do a great deal to help remedy the situation and there are already several initiatives out there – Kytabu, Eneza Education, eLimu, just to mention a few. The Ministry of Education should also work to give strength where it can to these initiatives and even co-opt them.

    Hopefully Kenya’s laptop-for-pupils will (if nothing else) draw serious attention to the issues of education and the education system in a way that will create the impetus to seriously tackle the problems – both from NGO, public and private sector players.

    Will Mutua, co-founder of The Open Academy – Nairobi,

  • Normative Theory of Campaign Promises, and Uhuru Kenyatta’s First 100 Days in Office

    by kenyantaboo

    They set out on a high, charming friends and fore alike, with bromance hitherto unforeseen. Yet it was clear the honeymoon would end, and time would come to take stock. The Uhuru Kenyatta government, during its well-oiled campaign period, made several pledges, some out of euphoria, others out of sheer desperation for votes. In particular, reference was made to certain achievable promises within the first 100 days of Jubilee assuming the Presidency;

    Stock health centers with drugs and equipment necessary to treat all Kenyans

    Abolish the fees currently charged at dispensaries and health centres.

    Abolish maternity fees and other related charges in all public hospitals

    Pass legislation to ensure that every Kenyan child, under 18yrs, is either in school, or in a training institution.

    Pass necessary legislation to operationalize the youth empowerment programme

    Provide every standard one child with a solar-powered laptop.

    Watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vaC-YVJPrA

    The end justifies the means, they said. So, amidst the pomp and glamour, the appointments and disappointments, we endeavour to bring you the first 100 days scorecard. But were they sincere from the start?

    The Normative Theory of campaign promises (Schedler, 1998); states that political parties should follow the moral requirement of “decency” which includes the following rules –

    (i) Avoid making promises which one knowingly cannot keep (realism criterion)

    (ii) Avoid making promises which one does not intend to keep (sincerity criterion)

    (iii) Avoid making contradicting promises (consistency criterion).

    Avoid making promises which one knowingly cannot keep (Realism)

    Pass necessary legislation to operationalize the youth empowerment programme.

    A first round win for Jubilee directly translated to IEBC saving a 6 Billion sum set aside for a potential run-off. It was not to be ploughed back to the Treasury but converted to a benevolent kitty for youth and women empowerment. This required no legislation, we were told. The youth vote was in the bag, and we duly delivered on March 4th, or so IEBC claims. But 100 days later, has the money arrived? Not yet. In fact, just today, the Devolution and Planning Cabinet Secretary was quoted in a radio talk-show saying something to the effect that the 6 Billion project, now christened UWEZO, has officially been launched across the country and will help youth and women groups gain access to interest-free loans as start up capital for small and micro business, and that only a 3% one-off administration fee will be payable for each loan.

    Abolish maternity fees and other related charges in all public hospitals

    I’ll give credit where it’s due and award Jubilee their first quarter-of-a-mark here. Starting FY2013/14, a total of Ksh 10.6 billion has been proposed, of which Ksh 3.8 billion is for free access to maternal health. But was this the right way to go about it. And is this allocation enough? When Uhuru Kenyatta made this decree during his inauguration, he directed that the Treasury, Ministy of Health and related ministries kickstart a discussion on the best way to go about this promise. A Policy Proposal on the Presidents’ Initiative on Free Maternal Health Services in Kenya was delivered in three weeks with the following recommendations:

    Based on the fore-going, the maternal health package can be financed through three main channels as follows:

    1. Conditional grants to be channeled to health facilities using existing systems – Health Sector Service Fund (HSSF) and Hospital Management Services Fund (HMSF)

    2. A hybrid Mechanism- HSSF for the lower level facilities and the NHIF for levels 4,5 and 6

    3. Use of the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF)/payment of NHIF to cover all pregnant mothers

    Stock health centers with drugs and equipment necessary to treat all Kenyans

    Abolish the fees currently charged at dispensaries and health centres.

    You do not wake up one morning, having seen the sun shining on your smooth forehead, call a press conference and order drugs and equipment to grassroots health facilities and abolish fees charged in those facilities. No you dont. Charity Ngilu, one of the principals, recognize this first hand having headed the Health Ministry for a considerable period of time. She was instrumental in the drafting of the health provisions in the Jubilee manifesto. One would want to assume that she inserted the two provisions at gunpoint. Even if the government was to shut down operations and redirect staff to focus only on the two promises, 100 days is still a short duration to see these two promises kick in. As we speak, there has neither been a follow up nor legislation to see to to it that these two promises are effected. But this is highlights half the story. The real monster afflicting health facilities at all levels is under-staffing. It is worse at the dispensary and health centre levels because Nurses and doctors always aspire to move to bigger towns and cities where opportunities abound, which comes with higher pay. So the Jubilee government, in all their wisdom, decided to do this;

    “I have allocated a further Ksh 3.1 billion and Ksh 522 million for recruitment of 30 community nurses and 10 community health workers, respectively per constituency to provide quality health care services to Kenyans.”

    Before I get mad, lets crunch the numbers, shall we? A 2006 Study on The Cost of Health Professionals Brain Drain in Kenya came to the conclusion that the total cost of educating one nurse from primary school to college of health sciences is US$ 43,180, that is equivalent to, then, Kshs 3.5 Million per NURSE. Read more: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6963/6/89

    There are 290 constituencies in Kenya, making it a total of 8700 (290 x 30) community nurses to be recruited this year.

    310,000,000,000 divide by 8700 = 356,322 per nurse per year

    356,322 divide by 12 months = 29,700 per month!

    Yaani…the Kenyan government intends to pay a nurse, who’s been trained at a conservative figure of 3.5 Million, 29,700 per month! And you expect this nurse to stay in the village dispensary treating patients with a kind heart? I get it, nursing should be a calling, after all. End of rant.

    Further, this nurse is expected to deliver services under the most extreme of circumstances often without drugs or equipment. Timely provision of requisite drugs and equipment to dispensaries and health centres has been a hot button topic in health circles. To be precise, this is one of the issues that made our health professionals down their tools in 2012 as they demanded for better working conditions. Too many patients are dying in their hands, they said, not because of under-staffing but because they did not have basic equipment as gloves exposing them to contamination and health risks. To rectify the mess, you need a thorough inventory of equipment and drugs stock-taking by an external auditor. Without which KEMSA will keep sending only painkillers to lower level health facilities which would not have helped in any way.

    Avoid making contradicting promises (Consistency)

    Pass legislation to ensure that every Kenyan child, under 18yrs, is either in school, or in a training institution.

    Provide every standard one child with a solar-powered laptop.

    This one is a no-brainer. The Basic Education Act, 2013 was assented to by President Kibaki on 14th January 2013 and Commenced operations on 25th January 2013, two months to the March 4th general election. It is not clear, therefore, what Uhuru Kenyatta meant by “passing legislation to ensure that every child, under 18 years, is either in school, or in a training institution.” Two inferences can be made here; that either Mwai Kibaki had secretly relinquished state machinery to Uhuru Kenyatta at the turn of the year or there were other legislations secondary to the Basic Education Act, 2013, that Jubilee passed on the backdoor. I am not sure about the former so I shall restrain myself from commenting. However, on the latter, nothing can be further from the truth. A quick glance at the National Assembly Bill Tracker 2013 indicates that a total of 11 Bills have been brought to the floor of the House (2 have already been assented to by the President – The Division of Revenue Bill, 2013 and the Appropriation Bill, 2013). The other 9 have nothing to do with secondary legislations or amendments to the Basic Education Act, 2013. We can only conclude that either Uhuru Kenyatta intended to eat off Mwai Kibaki’s sweat or he was sworn in long before we knew he was. He, alone, is better placed to tell us which one. What was left for Jubilee was to operationalize the Act, and, because I still see kids littering our streets selling rotten strawberries in open-air print-patches, it is clear that the Cabinet Secretary in charge of Education is yet to open this piece of legislation and digest its contents.

    Lets now turn our attention to the small matter of laptop provision for primary One pupils. Does my head in, this one.

    We have in the medium term allocated a total of Ksh 53.2 billion for deployment of 1.35 million laptops to class one pupils, development of digital content, and building capacity of teachers and rolling out computer laboratory for class 4 to class 8 in all schools throughout the country. This translates to Ksh 17.4 billion each financial year starting from FY 2013/14.

    I’ll award Jubilee half-a-mark on this one, seeing that we can only evaluate the success of this project once the Standard One pupils, Class of 2014, settle in class. However, there has been a marked shift on government policy on this promise. Various media outlets have quoted the Cabinet Secretary for Education having said that the laptops would now be downgraded to tablets. Tablets, where those of the Mosaic nature on Mt. Sinai or the latest Steve Jobs ones, was never part of the deal. Or if they were, then the definition of what constitutes a laptop changed with Jubilee assuming office. There’s a lot of inconsistency in information coming from Jogoo House, and, as teachers demand this allocation to be directed to their welfare, I will not be surprised if the Class One of 2014 end up receiving Nokia 3310s as a compromise.

  • Conning poor people by using their tax money for a non-priority.

  • Kuku Za Kwetu Zina Memo Na Zingine Ni Mapengo..

    Uhuru Kenyatta & Ruto Ati >Both will Rape & Castrate Kenyans for another 20 years HenceThere is no any other Tribe that can Rule?
    Kwani Hakuna Mzalendo ajitokezee ampige Shaba?>Impunity of the highest>

  • Gichangi Boys masturbating

    The NSIS has a mandate to identify threats against the security of Kenya, collect and analyze intelligence on these threats, and advise the Government accordingly through appropriate intelligence reports.

    The role of NSIS is too broadly described and their are not enough mechanisms in place to monitor it by the parliament, or even by the executive branch. They also have the capacity to scare the judicial branch. This loophole has to be covered or else this body is going to be like the FBI during Herbert Hoover in the USA. This body can become the president’s legitimate mungiki if folks are not careful.But Gichangi guys are always busy masturbating Mkonyetos!

  • Pingback: In the news | Indigo Trust

  • Parents, leaders seek answers as report indicts school heads
    Updated Saturday, November 2nd 2013 at 22:26 GMT +3

    Parents and leaders across the education sector have demanded that those responsible for the alleged misappropriation of public funds in national schools be held accountable.

    The Auditor General’s report exposed alleged massive embezzlement of project funds in national and provincial schools.

    The report also raised audit queries on alleged misuse of Sh5.5 billion for free primary and day secondary education in the 2010/2011 financial year.

    But it is the lost millions meant for elevation of national schools that has raised serious concern among stakeholders.

    Grand corruption was in the past the norm at the Ministry of Education, but the vice has now spread its tentacles to the school level, raising a major concern to parents around the country.

    Among the schools audited by the Auditor General for alleged embezzlement or misappropriation of the money are Kenya High, Lenana, Nairobi School and Friends’ School Kamusinga.

    Others are Starehe Girls School, Kenyatta High School Mwatate, Malindi Boys High School, Jamuhuri High School, Chepsaita Secondary School in Uasin Gishu, Friends School Masaba and Kenyenya Teachers Training College.

    Sources at the auditors’ office, however, revealed that it is only a serious internal audit by the ministry that will reveal how millions allocated for the expansion and the economic stimulus programme was spent.

    Clarify gaps

    Yesterday, parents and teachers unions demanded a thorough audit of Sh750 million, released last year by Ministry of Education towards improvement of national schools infrastructure.

    Kenya National Association of Parents and Teachers (KNAPT), the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut), and the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) want the ministry to clarify the gaps highlighted in the Auditor generals report. Each national school was allocated between Sh25 million to Sh30 million to uplift facilities and upgrade the status of the schools.

    Over 30 provincial schools were identified across the country for elevation, while existing national school were allocated funds for expansion.

    The report says colossal amounts of money were spent by school managements on illegal expenditures not approved by Ministry of Education officials. Other institutions awarded tenders in disregard of the Public Procurement and Disposal Act, 2005 with majority of them inflating tenders or sidestepping lowest bidders to receive kickbacks.

    The Ministry of Education in the 2011/2012 financial year spent a whopping Sh39,438,290,258 against the net approved expenditure of Sh33,928,337,251.46.

    According to a damning report institutions falling under the ministry of Education could not explain how the excess expenditure of Sh5,509,007.29 was incurred without approval by parliament as required by law.

    The report released by the Auditor-General Edward Ouko last month also highlighted grave inconsistencies in the reconciliation of the appropriation account and the actual accounts of the expenditures by individual institutions during financial year that ended in June, 2012. Despite the substantial funding to schools, the audit found out that learning institutions are engaged in rampant misuse of government funds often diverting votes to incur unapproved expenditures.

    Many of the schools upgraded to national status across the country still have dilapidated buildings and archaic structures that do not befit their status even after receiving huge funding from the state.

    The audit sampled a number of schools to track the spending of public funds and unearthed a myriad of financial misappropriations, blatant flouting of financial laws as school managements scramble for a share meant to give hope to the future of Kenya’s next generation. Also allegedly misused was Sh25 million allocated to two schools in each of the former 201 constituencies under the economic stimulus programme.

    œWe want complete accountability of these funds because it is evident most of these schools did not put the cash into the intended purpose,” said Knap national chairman Nathan Barasa.

    Good infrastructure

    He said a spot check reveals some schools did not even need the money yet they were allocated the cash. “Some of these schools already had the best infrastructure. But they were allocated the money. They should show us what they did with the money,” he said. The schools were elevated to increase boarding places for pupils in addition to the 18 traditional national schools. There are 78 national schools currently.

    Education PS Dr Bellio Kipsang yesterday said most schools have made returns to show how the cash was spent and noted that no reports have been produced to indicate money was embezzled.

    “It maybe just accountability issues but ultimately we shall get the returns. But we need to give them time because some schools are yet to produce some of the documents,” he said.

    Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (Kessha) chairman john Awiti said the schools may have delayed to get proper documentation because of the elaborate procurement procedures. “These processes take time especially when given towards the end of the year. It is possible to get some documents are missing but that does not mean the funds have been embezzled,” he said.

    He said a visit to the said schools will reveal improvement on physical infrastructure and whether the funds have been used for the intended purpose.

    “Blanket statement that the funds have been put to bad use is dangerous because proper filing of returns has not been done. Let them complete the process then judge them based on that,” added Awiti. Director, secondary and tertiary education, Robert Masese declined to comment on the development saying he is currently on leave. “I have not seen the report and besides that I am away on leave,” he said.

  • Yussuf Abdi khalif

    Reports findings outlined are true.when will solution com? Added issue forgotten in N.e.p. Wajir county an area of drought vast to reach schls. The elected m.p.s, rich people their children dont learn in the county? Why,teacher in public schl.with low pay,work load excess,hate the whole profession those who could help dont mind they are huge salary and their in private or mostly in Nairobi. Terrorist caused threats to teachers dont get security support.muchroomed,poltical of primary schls opened to serve the interest of M.p. Caused understaffing to the county.nepotism,tribalism and currption in promotions a key issue thdt make a child in class seven not able to read kis or Eng.std 2 level.This advantages madarasa Quran teachers dropped ppls enroled to dugsi to memorize the Holy Quran.GIVE THIS ADVANTAGE TO SUBJECT MATTER.OLD EXPERIENCE TEACHER WHO PERFORMED AND DESTROYED TO WALL TO DIE A POOR MAN

  • free primary for what?

    ‘cannot read a sentence’, new UN study finds

    A quarter of a billion children worldwide are failing to learn basic reading and maths skills in an education crisis that costs governments $129 billion annually, the UN’s cultural agency warned in a report Wednesday.

    Inadequate teaching across the world has left a legacy of illiteracy more widespread than previously thought, UNESCO said in its annual monitoring report.

    It said one in four young people in poor countries was unable to read a sentence, with the figure rising to 40 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa,

    The United Nations defines “youth” as people aged between 15 and 24, although UNESCO’s definition varies across regions.

    “What’s the point in an education if children emerge after years in school without the skills they need?” said Pauline Rose, the director of the nearly 500-page Education for All Global Monitoring Report.

    TEACHERS NOT TRAINED TO NATIONAL STANDARDS

    In a third of countries analysed, fewer than three-quarters of existing primary school teachers were trained to national standards, while 120 million primary age children across the world had little or no experience of school, the UNESCO report found.

    “The cost of 250 million children not learning the basics is equivalent to $129 billion, or 10 per cent of global spending on primary education,” the report said.

    Thirty-seven countries monitored by the report are losing at least half the amount they spend on primary education because children are not learning, UNESCO said.

    In developed countries including France, Germany and the United Kingdom, immigrant children lag behind their peers, performing far worse on minimum learning targets.

    Indigenous groups in Australia and New Zealand face similar problems, it said.

    The report called for global education policies to focus not only on enrolment rates but also on equal access and better teaching.

    “Access is not the only crisis — poor quality is holding back learning even for those who make it to school,” UNESCO director general Irina Bokova wrote in the report’s foreword.

    She said it was clear that the educational targets set in 2000 by the UN’s Millennium Developments Goals would not be reached.

    Ms Rose said “new goals after 2015 must make sure every child is not only in school, but learning what they need to learn”.

    http://www.nation.co.ke/lifestyle/family/-African-children-cannot-read-a-sentence/-/1954198/2165320/-/view/printVersion/-/xrg2t9z/-/index.html

  • laptops or schools?
  • uselss laptop project

    Board cancels tender awarded to Olive Technologies to supply Standard One laptops
    Updated Tuesday, March 11th 2014 at 19:00 GMT +3

    By STANDARD REPORTER

    NAIROBI, KENYA: The Sh24.6 billion tender awarded to an Indian firm to supply laptops to Standard One pupils has been nullified.

    The Public Procurement Administrative Review Board has cancelled the tender award to Indian firm Olive Technologies to supply and install laptops for Standard One Pupils.

    In a ruling made Wednesday afternoon, the board chaired by Josephine Mong’are reversed the tender and ordered the procurement committee to retender within 45 days.

    The board said its decision was informed by the fact that Olive Technologies lacked financial ability to carry out the project.

    Olive Technologies had been awarded the Sh24.6 billion tender in February after beating other shortlisted suppliers, Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Haier.

    Now Watch: Tukuza: My Testimony with Mrs. Josephine Wakasiaka 16.02.2014

    It was expected to begin the first phase of supplying laptops in April.

  • laptop or classroom

    Wednesday, March 19, 2014

    Sorry state of infrastructure in Kenya’s primary schools

    By JACQUELINE KUBANIA
    More by this Author

    What happened to Sydney Mulama sounds like something out of an episode of television reality show 1,000 Ways To Die.

    Mulama was a Form Two student at Chesamisi High School in Bungoma County, a lad with valid dreams; dreams that an education would have certainly opened doors for.

    However, on the evening of August 5 2013, everything changed. What should have been a routine visit to the toilet turned into a tragedy when the pit latrine he was using collapsed, burying him inside. He was reported missing at bed time when he failed to show up for roll call.

    The authorities found his body hours later and had to dig him up using machines. And just like that, his dreams were snuffed out like a candle in the wind.

    Following the unfortunate incident, an assessment of the facilities at the school was carried out. District Education Officer for Kimilili, Elisha Omala, says that as per the public health officers’ recommendations, newer, sturdier latrines were put up, as well as a block of water closets.

    TRICKY FOUNDATIONS

    However, Kimilili District, and indeed the rest of Kenya, is not new to sinking toilets. Heavy rains, coupled with loose soils, make some areas tricky bases for foundations.

    For instance, the same year Mulama died, three primary schools in Kimilili; Kibunde FYM Primary School, Kibingei RC Primary School and Namawanga Primary School, reported collapsed latrines. The only reason they did not make it to the news is that this time, there were no casualties involved.

    Poor infrastructure in primary schools is a problem that the whole country is grappling with, although, admittedly, some counties suffer more than others. In January this year, students of Kimobo Primary School in Mount Elgon District were sent home after the school was closed down indefinitely due to health and safety concerns.

    Public Health officials from the district labeled the school a hazard after discovering that it had only four latrines to serve the over 600 pupils. As a result, some pupils were forced to use the facilities in a nearby secondary school in a bid to avoid the impossible queues found at the latrines every break time.

    When the Mwai Kibaki government rolled out the Free Primary Education programme in 2003, public schools faced an unprecedented surge in enrolment numbers. Children who had been previously locked out of school due to inability to pay fees now only had to walk to the nearest public primary school and start learning their ABCs. Besides, the government had made it a criminal offence for any parent to keep their child away from school.

    In its zeal to provide education to the masses, the government glossed over one of the most obvious challenges that increased admission into schools would bring: infrastructure. Before the FPE, public primary schools barely had enough classrooms or toilets. After FPE, barely enough became grossly overstretched and congested.

    In 2005, the government launched a five-year programme, the Kenya Education Sector Support Programme to outline and implement strategies that would guide infrastructure development in public primary schools, taking into account the bloated numbers and contextualizing the solutions to fit each school.

    KESSP found that the biggest infrastructure challenges facing schools were inadequate classrooms, poor state of existing facilities such as toilets, limited number of primary schools and a discrepancy in needs per school. Data gleaned from the 2003 census revealed that there was a shortfall of 43,000 classrooms countrywide, and of the ones that were there, 32 per cent were found to be below standard. These figures, however, were thought to be on the conservative side.

    To tackle these challenges, the government proposed a programme that would see 4,000 of the more needy schools in Kenya receive between Sh100,000 and Sh200,000 per year, depending on the enrolment numbers of the school. The funds would be geared towards infrastructure development. A further 970 schools would receive additional grants to construct 3,880 classrooms, 9,700 toilets and upgrade water supplies.

    Also included in the larger KESSP plan was the proposal to construct 165 new primary schools based on priority needs in the country. (Efforts to reach ministry officials to shed light on how far the country has come since KESSP was launched were unsuccessful).

    More than eight years after the launch of KESSP, the reality on the ground, however, indicates that infrastructure remains a headache for learning institutions. And the Kenya Primary School Head Teachers Association chairman, Joseph Karuga, is worried:

    “Forget inadequate desks, some schools are completely wall-less,” he says. These are schools with no classrooms at all, so learning takes place under trees. Physiological needs affect learning as well, and may be part of the reason behind poor performance in public schools as compared to private ones, says Karuga.

    This crippling need is what has informed the decision by companies, such as Safaricom, and charity organisations such as Red Cross and ActionAid, to take Corporate Social Responsibility to educational institutions in a bid to provide relief for some of the worst affected schools.

    On March 4 this year, for instance, the Safaricom Foundation constructed an ablution block at Imara Primary School, Kayole at a cost of Sh6 million. The school now boasts 16 new boys’ toilets and 21 new girls’ units.

    “The Sh1,020 that the government provides for each child is barely enough to buy books, leave alone take care of a school’s infrastructure needs,” laments Karuga. “This is why, despite the fact that primary education is theoretically free, some schools are forced to charge a levy per child per term to build and maintain classrooms and toilets.”

    Such is the reality at Lavington Primary School in Nairobi, where parents pay Sh1,500 per child per term for maintenance of infrastructure. However, Musau Ndunda, chairman of the Kenya National Association of Parents, is of the opinion that infrastructure development is solely a government responsibility, and that parents should not pay even a cent to ensure their children get quality education.

    “The Education Act 2013 very clearly outlines everyone’s responsibilities,” he says. “The government must build and equip schools while the parent is tasked only with ensuring that the child goes to school.”

    Even with the country’s seemingly bad performance in equipping the education sector, a report published in 2012 by United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) notes that Kenya’s commitment towards funding education has not waned.

    STRONG SPENDING

    The report states in part: “The economic downturn does not seem to have adversely affected education spending: 6.7 per cent of Kenya’s GNP was spent on education in 2010, increasing from the 5.4 per cent spent in 1999. This strong spending helped increase the primary net enrolment ratio from 62 per cent in 1999 to 83 per cent in 2009.”

    According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), however, Kenya is a long way from meeting the prescribed sanitation standards. The recommended government ratio for physical facilities in schools is 25 girls and 30 boys per latrine. It is estimated that in some places, 100 pupils share one latrine, which exposes them to infections associated with lack of proper sanitation.

    Parents enroll their charges in schools trusting that it is a safe environment where they can grow up and get an education. In reality, the school has become just one more place for a child to contract a deadly disease, or worse, die in a freak accident. Like one Sydney Mulama.

  • Teacher-pupil ratio

    Pupil-teacher ratio now more worrying, says Education CS Jacob Kaimenyi
    Updated Wednesday, May 7th 2014 at 00:03 GMT +3

    By Rawlings Otieno

    Nairobi, Kenya: Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi regretted that the pupil-teacher ratio at primary and secondary schools has become worse since the inception of the free primary education.

    “The pupil–teacher ratio is one measure of assessing progress towards education for all. Due to financial constraints, we have not been able to meet the international standard. In many schools the ratio is above 42:1, with as high as 85:1,” said Kaimenyi.

    On average, pupil to teacher ratio at primary schools moved from 44:1 in 2007 to 45:1 in 2010 against target of 42:1.

    The CS made the remarks during the official launch of the Education For All, Global Monitoring Report prepared by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) at a Nairobi Hotel Tuesday.

    The report indicates that globally, the average pupil-teacher ratio, has barely changed at the pre-primary, primary and secondary levels.

    It is expected that by 2015 at least 70 per cent of the countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, including Kenya, reach gender parity in primary enrolment.

    The 2013/2014 report states that ensuring equal quality education for all can generate huge economic rewards, increasing a country’s gross domestic product per capita by 23 per cent over the next 40 years.

    Train the best

    To achieve good quality education for all, governments must provide enough trained teachers and focus their teacher policies on meeting the needs of the disadvantaged, shows the report.

    Kaimenyi maintained that the Government would continue to recruit more teachers who are well qualified and trained to offer the best services to the pupils and students.

    “Education is only as good as its teachers. The focus is on improving the quality of education, including through reforming teacher training, deployment and motivation. To ensure that we impart good skills, we must increase the number of teachers,” said Kaimenyi.

    He said the Government must remunerate teachers properly if they are to offer quality service.

    According to the report, one strategy illustrated in teacher reform is the development of digital literacy skills.

    The report revealed that only one in five of the poorest children complete primary school studies having learnt the basics in reading and mathematics.

    The report also reveals that in a third of countries analysed less than three-quarters of existing primary school teachers are trained to national standards.

    At the same time, Kaimenyi said the numerous bottlenecks in the laptop project would be dealt with adding that the Government launched the laptop per child initiative to integrate ICT in public primary schools.
    http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/lifestyle/article/2000111214/pupil-teacher-ratio-now-more-worrying-says-education-cs

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