Sat. Mar 23rd, 2019

Government to spend Sh8.4bn more on school tablets

The government will sink a further Sh8.4 billion into the controversial laptop project that has so far gobbled up in excess of Sh50 billion.

The new expenditure comes months after Auditor General Edward Ouko disclosed that the state could not account for Sh15.2 billion that had been pumped into the project. 

The project, a major 2013 Jubilee campaign plank, has been rubbished by critics as unrealistic and populist, especially after the government switched to buying tablets for pupils instead of the promised laptops.

The fresh allocation is captured in the Division of Revenue Bill, 2019, tabled in Parliament on Thursday.

The Teachers Service Commission, the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development, and ICT Authority are the key agencies handling the laptop project. 

The project was allocated Sh17.6 billion, Sh13.4 billion, Sh13.4 billion, and Sh6.3 billion in four financial years since 2015. 

Whereas Education CS Amina Mohamed maintains the project is on course, many taxpayers suspect it might be a white elephant. 

“The project has not failed. It was rolled out nationwide after the successes of the pilot. The gadgets are in use,” Amina said in an interview last month. 

A KICD report revealed that only 39 per cent of the teachers use the gadgets to teach.

Apart from the digital literacy project, Treasury CS Henry Rotich has allocated billions for ventures whose viability is questionable. 

Key among them is the Sh11.1 billion allocated for national irrigation and fertiliser clearance at a time farmers are lamenting over delayed fertiliser subsidies for the current planting season.

The security sector is also the biggest gainer in the proposed revenue share having been allocated Sh27.9 billion for enhanced operations. the Treasury projects that the monies will be spent on police vehicles and helicopters. 

Youth Empowerment, which has also been a subject of serious audit queries, will get Sh16.2 billion while Sh26 billion will be set aside for older persons, OVC, child welfare, presidential bursary and persons living with severe disability if the Bill is enacted. 

Independent constitutional bodies – Commission on Revenue Allocation, Salaries and Remuneration Commission, National Lands Commission, National Police Service Commission, the IEBC, and TSC – will get Sh261.3 billion. 

Rotich’s Bill further states that the government will spend Sh4.1 billion to cater for KCPE and KCSE registration fees in the financial year 2019/20. A total of Sh11.2 billion has been spent on the programme since its roll-out in 2016. 

The government also plans to spend Sh109.5 billion on pensions and constitutional offices salaries.