The supply of free tablets to primary schools has suffered a setback after the government reallocated Sh1.5 billion meant for the programme this year.
The reallocation of the funds from the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology, which is overseeing the project, is among changes Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich made in the Supplementary Budget II estimates.
The budget rationalisation was inevitable after Kenya Revenue Authority failed to meet its target.
Other than the digital literacy programme, the amount was also meant for the supply and installation of Internet-based 4,000 network and East Africa Trade and Transport facilitation project as well as projectors and content point gadgets in schools.
On Tuesday, former Education Principal Secretary James ole Kiyiapi faulted the reallocation of the ministry’s budget, saying the programme risks failing because the government did not consult all the stakeholders.
“Some of us proposed that the money be used to build a computer laboratory per school, but they refused. On building modern classrooms, nobody would hear of it,” Prof Kiyiapi said.
He went on: “Now the laptop programme has been abandoned after all; a totally misdirected public policy and waste of taxpayers’ money.”
Ahead of the 2013 General Election, President Kenyatta promised to use the Sh6 billion set aside for presidential rerun to finance the acquisition of the tablets if he won in the first round.
In October 2017, then Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i announced the expansion of the programme to include private primary schools.
Taifa Elimu Tablet was later launched under the digital literacy programme.
The tablets are currently being assembled under the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology ICT project.
So far, at least 329,000 tablets have been delivered to 7,238 primary schools in 21 of the 47 counties under the JKUAT ICT project. There are more than 29,000 public primary schools in the country.
Other areas that suffered budget cuts are Interior Ministry, which lost Sh2.75 billion meant for construction of police housing units, equipping of administration houses and construction of a leadership academy.