Friday, March 04, 2016

Laptops or desks?

Six-year-old Kenyan pupil Kizito Wafula could soon be using a government-funded laptop, but his school in the west of the country has no desks or chairs - and, crucially, no electricity to power it. Kenya's government pledged to give first year primary school students access to laptops in an ambitious $600m (£425m) Digischool scheme.

Kizito will continue to use scraps of paper to write down his notes, keeping them bundled in a small black plastic bag. Kizito and his six siblings live with their grandmother, who cannot afford to buy exercise books. "He doesn't have proper books so he borrows paper plucked from other pupils books," says Florence Misiko, the head teacher at St Jude Nabuyeywe in Bungoma, a poor farming area.

At school, he sits on the dusty floor with his 90 classmates, using torn cardboard boxes and worn out sacks as mats.
"It is really hard for these pupils to learn like this," says Mrs Misiko. "But we are doing everything we can even with little resources. We have actually just received several bags of cement from the county government to finish off the floors of the classes. But we need much much more, as you can see," she says, pointing at the gaping holes where windows and doors should be. Even if we get laptops, how would we have used them under these conditions? Our priority now is getting students desks and enough books."

St Jude Nabuyeywe is typical of many schools in poor and rural areas of Kenya - connection to the electricity grid and internet remains a pipe dream. 20% of Kenya's primary schools do not have the basic necessities.

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