, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 5 – Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi on Wednesday revealed that a team has been dispatched to conduct an assessment of firms that have applied to supply laptops for the government’s education program.
Kaimenyi emphasised that no company had been awarded the tender, adding that the visit would enable the team research on the shortlisted bidders.
“We have identified due diligence teams and sent them to China because apparently most of these big companies manufacture from there.”
“As per the law, we were required to award the tender to the lowest bidder but we did not because we wanted to ensure that we award it to a company that will deliver efficiently,” he explained.
The Education Secretary however raised concerns over logistics of delivering the laptops to remote areas saying that this needs to be considered prior to the issuance.
“Though we want to have rolled out the whole project by the end of this first quarter we are faced with multiple challenges. Getting the laptop to a pupil that is in Lodwar is not the same as trying to get it to one in Nairobi.”
“I urge Kenyans to exercise some patience so that we can roll out a sustainable and effective project with the best laptops possible being given to all the students,” he urged.
Speaking during a National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation conference, the Education Secretary added that plans are underway to create a new system of university education.
“Students that are not privileged will now have a reason to smile because we are looking at establishing open universities by the end of this year.”
“These open universities will offer the same level of education as the mainstream ones only difference will be that the fees will be greatly subsidised,” he explained.
The government last year said it would spend Sh24 billion to buy 1.2 million laptops to be delivered in primary schools in the first quarter of this year.
Speaking when he released the 2013 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examination results at the end of last year, Kaimenyi said the government was undertaking a procurement process in which it hoped to save Sh8 billion, after rejecting the Sh32 billion price quoted by suppliers in the initial tender.
“I want to assure my brothers and sisters that the government is fully committed to the provision of 1.2 million laptops. They will be delivered to schools in the first quarter of 2014,” he pledged.
Kaimenyi explained that a lot of ground work had been done to ensure the full implementation of the ICT pledge made by the Jubilee government. He said an ICT training curriculum for teachers was launched in August to pave way for training teachers before the programme is rolled out.
He also announced of site visits to companies that have been shortlisted to supply the laptops to determine their capability.
Among firms shortlisted for the tender are Haier of China, Olive Technologies of India and HP.