The number has been dropped, KSh 17.4 billion will be allocated annually for the next four years towards the ambitious laptop for schools…no laptops for standard one pupils project that formed a pillar in the campaign strategy of the digital government.
Am I a believer? Yes and no. Yes because the spirit behind the concept is great and no because in my opinion there is a better way straight out of the blocks, if we but looked at the end game differently. A knowledge economy needs to focus more on the dissemination and assimilation of information and not the deployment of hardware without thinking through of the support structures needed. The most efficient, scalable and sustainable route should be adopted, unfortunately, the laptop to students model fails on all three counts.
My preferred model would be to rollout simple but comprehensive labs within the precincts of the schools – or other institutions that serve as community meeting points. Next would be to adapt educational curricula and lesson plans to ensure that exposure to both technology and the knowledge opportunities present is not limited to standard one pupils. This would also allow for knowledge that lies outside traditional academic circles to be both captured and monetized .
Think of a localized version of Udemy – the popular online courses platform that lets learning happen anywhere, anytime while leveraging individual instructors . While we can’t put everyone through tertiary education, we can provide platforms through which knowledge can be shared and even certification or affirmation given. With the lab structure, the facilities can be put to work full time, in the evenings, weekends and when school is out. A local bank for example may require youth seeking a loan for a chicken initiative to go through a course at the local lab, at their own pace as created by the say The Munguku Farm who have industry competence, after which they may get access to a packaged loan product. The course may be sponsored or made available at a minimal fee.
The payload of value must be delivered in present, continuous fashion and not positioned or seen as a future harvest only. There are hundreds of thousands that would benefit from a different model of this knowledge campaign juxtaposed against vision 2030.
Could the government possibly pivot its campaign model? Or will it take failure – not that I wish it, for us to have a take two?