WE NEED TO WELCOME THE OLPC ON BOARD IF WE WANT TO SUCCEED IN DIGITALIZING KENYA.
Today, the people of Kenya including the rural folk at Eshibinga village are discussing the realisation of a promise by the newly elected Kenya government to provide a solar-powered laptop to every Kenyan child joining Standard One next year. President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, Mr William Ruto, pledged to give free solar-powered laptops to each of the 800,000 children joining Class One in 2014 with a view to raising a tech-savvy generation that would fit better in the modern world.
Rwanda is the only country in the East African region with such a programme. It deploys at least 100,000 laptops to school-going children across the country every year. For your information Rwanda has adopted the use of XO laptops. Will Kenya also go the xo laptops way?
If this happens, Kenya will have edged closer to realising its dream of being a regional tech hub, joining the leagues of a few other countries in the world which have made deliberate efforts to expose pupils to technology early in their lives.
But it is an uphill task. A significant portion of Kenya’s public schools, especially those in the rural areas like Eshibinga primary, have teachers who are barely conversant with computers and how they work. If it were not for efforts of Sandra Thaxter from the OLPC and her team, Eshibinga primary would still be ignorant to the world of computers. Three years ago, Sandra handed over three xo laptops and made Eshibinga primary a digitalized school.
For the project to succeed, the government will have to conduct thorough training of teachers before they can manage to instruct the children on how to use the machines. This is what Sandra nad fred have been trying to do.
Another challenge is not just acquiring the laptop or the hardware, there is need to concentrate on the software and the digitisation of the syllabus.
Over the past few years, the government has put in high gear efforts to digitise learning materials from the Kenya Institute of Education, a process that is still ongoing and has been partially blamed for the slow adoption of e-learning despite the availability of many applications to support it.
This will be the other headache that the new government will grapple with before it starts dishing out the laptops next year, as demand rises for digitised learning material, including illustrations and pictures that can appeal to Class One pupils. It is at this point that groups that had a vision of digitalizing Kenya, like that run by Sandra come into focus. They have to be brought on board. Welcome the OLPC and other groups and help our new Government digitalise Kenya.