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County Commissioner says that Digital Literacy Program must work

The  Murang’a County Commissioner (CC), Mohammed Barre has said that the Digital Literacy Program (DLP) introduced two years ago in primary schools must work.

The  administrator said that the government had invested heavily on the program but teachers have been reluctant to make it work.

In  Murang’a County, all the public schools have been supplied with digital learning devices which include tablets for class one pupils, a laptop for use by the  teacher, a projector and remote internet connection devices.

Many schools have, however, not been using the devices and so they have been gathering dust in the safes they are locked in.

In a County Development Implementation and Coordination Committee (CDICC) meeting which he chairs, the CC said that school managers and teachers have no choice but to make the programme work.

“The government has invested heavily in the programme and anyone who sabotages it will not be entertained. The tax payers must get value for their money.” He said.

The CC said that the excuses given by teachers for not carrying out the programme were lame and will not be entertained.

During a visit to primary schools to evaluate the programme implementation, the committee found that teachers and students were not conversant with the devices and had to depend on ICT officers to operate them, an indication that they haven’t been using them.

The county commissioner said that close attention will be given to every school starting this term to ensure that the programme is running as expected.

In one of the schools visited, class three pupils who were the pioneer DLP class could not operate the devices despite having them in their schools for over two years as well as their teachers.

The committee recommended that the Ministry of ICT and the Ministry of Education who are the major implementing agencies pay close attention to the programme through a tight monitoring system.

Some of the recommendations made are that all school heads be trained on the programme so that they own it up and become champions of the same in their schools. It would also ensure continuity of the programme in cases where the teachers who were trained on the programme got transfers.

Currently, only about two teachers are trained on the programme per school and so if they were transferred to other schools, their former schools may have no one to champion the programme while one school may end up having more DLP trained teachers than others.

Incorporating the programme in teacher’s training curriculum as well as making it examinable in schools was also recommended.

The  Sub county education officers would now be required to carry out continuous assessment of the programme and give a report to the CDICC for evaluation purposes.

While some schools were reported to have had no electricity power supply due to nonpayment of bills, the CC said that such laxity would not be allowed since the monthly bills were affordable but some school heads have had cumulative bills which lead to power cuts.

Currently various schools within the county owe Kenya Power Sh. 3.2 million as unpaid bills some of them running over years. This is despite some schools having had only monthly bills of less than Sh.200 per month.

He said that the committee would be carrying out impromptu checks on schools and action will be taken against those found to have neglected the programme.

The DLP is one of the pledges that the Jubilee government made before being elected into government way back in 2013. It was rolled in all public primary schools in January 2017 after piloting in selected schools in 2016.

Apart from enhancing delivery of quality education, the programme is expected to have a ripple effect on the economy. For example, it has increased access to power connectivity and security in far-flung areas opening up business opportunities that utilize electricity.

In Murang’a County all schools are connected to the grid apart from one that has solar connection.

Besides distributing DLP devices, the government also posted ICT officers in the counties to offer technical support to schools for smooth implementation of the programme.

However, the programme lost momentum soon after the launch due to various bottlenecks. Some teachers interviewed by KNA said that the devices were not equipped with the current syllabus content.

Others could simply say they were still not able to operate the devices despite having been trained and asked to escalate the challenges encountered. In short, any impromptu visit to a school will reveal that digital learning is seldom running in public schools.

Barre has called for concerted efforts by all stakeholders to have the programme work as envisaged.

By  Judith  Thuo

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