By Peter Oliver Ochieng
Kenya’s Information, Communications and Technology Authority (ICTA) is currently running an internet accessibility pilot project in schools targeting up to 9,600 students and 200 teachers.
The pioneering project which was also installed at Kamusinga- one of Kenya’s top High Schools- in November, before being officially launched in December, 2021. It is an initiative by the Authority and partners, with the long term goal of connecting schools countrywide to high-speed broadband internet to enable students to easily access online learning materials.
“Friends School Kamusinga was chosen because of the infrastructure and its performance record is a model school,” said Collins Jensen, Bungoma County’s ICTA officer.
With over 1, 000 students from across the Country, Kamusinga High School is frequently ranked the best in Bungoma County, besides appearing in the top 100 schools in the Country based on KCSE results.
It is not clear when the pilot phase will end. Collins said that results of the pilot phase will give room for policy formulation. The policy will give guidance on how future internet connectivity in schools will be conducted.
In terms of sustainability, he said the infrastructure laid down in pilot schools will remain in place, with frequent maintenance undertaken by ICTA officers in the relevant Counties. Usage of the net and maintenance are free of charge.
Also speaking at the school during the official launch in December, the Principal Secretary for University Education Ambassador Simon Nabukwesi said the project has wiped out internet costs at the Friends School, Kamusinga.
“The school has been paying Sh15, 000 (about 132.1 US Dollars) for internet every month which at some point failed to serve the school as required, now the school has obtained high speed internet that will serve the school well,” said the PS.
The school’s Principal Alex Maina said that before the ICTA’s intervention, the internet was not reliable. “We want to appreciate the efforts of the government to give us the internet, through the ICT Authority. This has also helped the accounts office that is able to access information online to be able to update their bank statements. We also have a facility provided by mobile phone company Safaricom where we get fees payment statements through mobile money platforms among them M-PESA,” he explained.
Gerald Adiga a form two student said the internet’s availability has increased their appetite for research. “We can now do more research in biology, geography and other subjects without interruptions .”
However, the major challenge is the insufficient number of computers. The student’s computer lab has slightly over 30 computers, against a school population of over 1, 000 students. During his tour of the school, PS Nabukwesi indicated that the government is considering supplying more computers to the school.