Schools to get power by next June ahead of laptop project

Tuesday September 2 2014

Teachers from various schools in Nakuru County undergo basic computer training at Crater Primary School in Nakuru on March 20, 2014 to equip them with the knowledge and skills to implement the laptop project in primary schools. PHOTO | FILE

Teachers from various schools in Nakuru County undergo basic computer training at Crater Primary School in Nakuru on March 20, 2014 to equip them with the knowledge and skills to implement the laptop project in primary schools. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By TOM MATOKE
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The free primary school laptops project is expected to be rolled out next June when most public schools will have been supplied with power, the Rural Electrification Authority (REA) has announced.

The Jubilee government project has had a false-start several times, mainly due to tendering issues.

But the government has now allocated Sh10 billion to have all the public primary schools on the electricity grid.

REA chairman Simon Gicharu has since called for patience, saying had the programme been implemented with most schools off the power grid, it would not have been sustainable due to the high cost of maintaining the technology.

Mr Gicharu said a government study indicated that most public primary schools lack electricity and the Sh10 billion allocated to REA by the government would address the problem.
He assured parents, teachers and pupils that no region would be sidelined in the rural electrification programme.

Speaking at Kaptumo in Nandi County on Monday, Mr Gicharu said the laptop project had been delayed to enable the authority to supply all public schools with electricity.

Mr Gicharu, who was accompanied by Aldai MP Cornelius Serem, asked Kenyans to give the government time to deliver on its election pledges and urged parents to invest in education.

POINTLESS

Mr Serem said it would be pointless for schools to be given laptops when electricity was not available.

Meanwhile, Kenya National Union of Teachers national trustee Boniface Tenai and Nandi North Knut secretary Josephat Serem said Kenyans had waited too long for the project.
The two Knut leaders urged the government to lower power connection charges due to the high cost of living.

“Children, parents and teachers want the laptops given to schools as soon as electricity is connected to schools,” Mr Tenai said.

Early this year, the Energy Ministry said it was keen on lowering the cost of electricity to enable more consumers to be connected.

At the same time, the Knut leaders asked the government to repair many of the impassable roads leading to some rural schools, which had made it difficult for teachers reach school on time.
Mr Serem also asked the government to pay teachers working along the Nandi escarpment hardship allowances because of poor communication.