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Vandalism, power bills hinder digital learning in Tana River

Monday May 6 2019

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Ms Amina Omari shows Class One pupils at Sparki Primary School in Mombasa how to use computer tablets. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

STEPHEN ODUOR
By STEPHEN ODUOR
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The government’s Digital Literacy Programme (DLP) in Tana River County is in jeopardy following a rise in vandalism of equipment and lack of electricity.

Mr Rodgers Mogire of the Rural Electrification Authority (REA) told the County Development Implementation and Coordination Committee on Saturday that vandalism was frustrating efforts to expand connectivity to schools.

He added that there was no budget for reinstallation of equipment that has been damaged or stolen, and urged schools’ authorities to be vigilant.

Mr Mogire noted that out of the 125 schools that have been fitted with solar power equipment, 79 are now faulty leading to more time and resources being spent on repair rather than expanding connectivity.

“Our team is on the ground on the issues of maintenance and we believe that by the end of June this year, all solar panels and equipment will have been repaired,” he said.

NO ELECTRICITY

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The committee also learnt that some schools had been disconnected from electricity supply due to outstanding debts.

Kenya Power’s Hezron Korir said the schools had debts running up to Sh74,967 forcing the power distributor to cut off electricity.

Of the 45 primary schools in Tana North Sub County, only one is connected to the national grid, the committee learnt. The other schools use solar power which is susceptible to vandalism.

This is despite the government pumping more than Sh477 million to have all schools in the county connected to either the national grid or to solar power.

The officials from the Kenya Power and the Rural Electrification Authority (REA) said 170 schools had been connected, 45 to the national grid and 125 to solar power.

Mr Korir said that seven new schools yet to be connected to power would be considered for the programme in the next financial year.

He said Kenya Power was planning to install 20 new 100 KV transformers to serve the last mile connectivity, adding that schools adjacent to the transformers would be automatically connected.

The project targets to connect 6,000 new customers before the end of this financial year in June, with 65 percent of the county’s population targeted for connection to the national grid.

According to the County Director of Education Lawrence Karuntimi, lack of power and network connectivity have since impacted negatively on the implementation of the DLP and the National Education Management Information System (Nemis).