Are laptops the best way to educate children in Kenya?

One Laptop per Child at Kagugu Primary School, Kigali, Rwanda
One Laptop per Child at Kagugu Primary School, Kigali, Rwanda/Wikipedia

Several media sources carried an article about the response in Kenya to a proposed project, to be funded by Microsoft, to provide laptops to school children.

Musau Ndunda, of the Kenya National Association of Parents, said that the program is bound to fail in a country that lacks enough teachers and where others strike regularly for better pay. He pointed out that currently teachers do not have the capacity to implement the laptop project because they have not been trained and the government has not developed a curriculum for the project.

Further, the laptops may be lost or stolen. Ndunda cited a recent scandal in which 70 million textbooks in a free primary-school education program went missing: “If they are able to lose such an amount of textbooks then with the laptops it might be worse.” He wondered how the laptops will be safe in households among the country’s poor, saying “You cannot keep such a gadget in your house if you don’t have something to eat.”

For related reading, see this recent UNESCO report about how the major donors are pulling back funding for basic education in developing countries: Schooling for millions of children jeopardized by reductions in aid.

Blogger’s query: What about the power grid needed for all these laptops? They don’t work on solar energy, as far as I know.

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