Private schools have joined the race to roll out computer programmes following the Jubilee Government’s determination to offer free laptops to Standard One pupils beginning next year.
Kenya Private Schools Association (Kepsa) boss Peter Ndoro said the 9,800 private primary schools will start a similar programme to that of the government where Standard One children will be equipped with laptop computers.
“We do not want our institutions to lag behind in the implementation and adoption of information and communication technology,” Mr Ndoro said.
Speaking after a planning meeting for the project in Nairobi over the weekend, Mr Ndoro asked the government to support private schools so they are not left behind.
“We will hold a major conference in October to discuss with our members how to ensure that the ICT project kicks offs successfully in 2014,” he said.
The highlights of the October conference, he said, would be acquisition of computers, content and access for the schools.
But the schools have asked the government to support them, noting that the implementation of the Jubilee manifesto, where the laptops project is anchored, was a national promise to all.
“The manifesto promise is for all, whether in public or private schools. Therefore we are asking the government to consider extending the same to private schools,” the Kepsa boss said.
In particular, he noted that the government can start by incorporating private school teachers in the training for the laptops project that was launched last week by the Teachers’ Service Commission (TSC).
“The government can also support private schools by ensuring that they purchase laptops at subsidized prices and are given access to the training offered to their public school counterparts,” Mr Ndoro said.
On training for the teachers, TSC chief executive officer Gabriel Lengoiboni has said that 61,351 – three teachers per school – will be trained by January next year.
“The training will be done in three levels with the first group of 120 teachers, who are already ICT being trained. They will be master trainers who will train the trainers of the teachers,” he said.
The training will start next month and continue until November, in 300 centres across the country.
“It is envisaged that at the end of the training, all trainees will adopt contemporary technology and apply it in their day-to-day teaching activities,” Mr Lengoiboni said.
He added that county directors of education and other field officers would be held responsible for the success of the training in their respective areas.
Teachers will be provided with a user guide for support and reference after the training. This will also be made available to them online.
Going forward, Mr Lengoiboni said, teacher trainees will be expected to study ICT as a unit while in college.
“In this regard, the manual will be available for use in teachers’ training colleges and universities,” Mr Lengoiboni said.
This was one of the campaign pledges made by the Jubilee alliance.
Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi said the introduction of the laptop programme for learners in primary schools beginning next year is a strategic and deliberate move by the government to address access, equity and quality of education.
“The introduction of technology to our learners at an early age is envisaged to bridge the digital divide and inculcate 21st century skills so that these children can compete favourably in the global arena,” Prof Kaimenyi said.
He added that bringing technology to schools will create positive ripple effects not only to the education sector but also to other sectors.
The project will cost the government Sh53 billion but officials say only Sh27 billion of the amount will be used to buy the gadgets, Prof Kaimenyi said.
The minister called on teachers to embrace the change, saying technology was not meant to replace but to add value to their practice.