Kenya has ordered 1.1 million tablet computers from China as it begins the mass roll out of its flagship school laptop project.
Information, Communication and Technology Cabinet secretary Joe Mucheru said the consignment from China would dock at the Mombasa port in the next three months.
“I visited the Chinese factory where the gadgets are being manufactured and got assurance that they are of high quality and meet the required specifications,” Mr Mucheru told journalists at his office in Nairobi on Thursday.
“In fact, we are receiving about 70,000 tablets weekly and they assured us that they were up to the task of meeting the December deadline.”
The fresh order from China is in addition to 160,000 tablets received in the past six months. A total of 12,000 devices had been distributed to 150 schools for use in the pilot phase.
Under the import package, primary schools will receive digital literacy kits comprising projectors, teachers’ laptops, tablet computer for learners (or braille embossers for blind pupils), wireless digital servers and broadband routers. All these have been proved suitable for use in schools, said Mr Mucheru.
The ICT minister, who was flanked by his counterparts Fred Matiang’i (Education) and Charles Keter (Energy), said an inter-ministerial committee was overseeing training of 400 IT promoters who would work with 62,000 teachers trained in using the digital equipment with another 12,000 teachers targeted for training in the next three months.
Mr Keter allayed fears of exclusion of some 15,000 children saying the remaining 500 primary schools would be connected to the nation electricity grid before the end of the year.
Currently, 23,000 primary schools have been connected to the national grid as well as hybrid offgrid solar and wind systems.
Dr Matiang’i said a pilot project was currently underway in 150 schools where the digital literacy kitty had been delivered and a newly developed digital curriculum for Standard One, Two and Three pupils developed by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development.
“The Digital Literacy Programme is in line with our planned education sector overhaul launch in 2017 where we shall gradually phase out books in favour of digital learning,” he said.
READ: School laptops project rollout set to be completed next year
On local participation, Mr Mucheru said Jomo Kenyatta University for Agriculture and Technology’s joint venture with Latin American multinational IT company Positivo BGH tablet production line would be commissioned next month while Moi University’s assembly plant was under development at Rivatex complex.
ICT Authority acting chief executive Robert Mugo said the devices would be delivered as components from China for assembling locally, creating employment for 3,000 IT graduates.
The JKUAT plant, which has trained graduate technicians involved in production of laptops under the Taifa brand will have a 720,000 tablets production capacity annually.
The three Cabinet secretaries said they would conduct a month-long countrywide inspection and installation tour of 60 schools.
The project is slated to cost Sh28 billion upon completion of the first phase afterwhich it will be gradually increased to all levels of learning.