President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday launched Sh1.9 billion school furniture project as part of the bid to step up the preparations for reopening of schools after months of closure due to Covid-19.
Around 650,000 artisans are expected to supply locally assembled furniture in the project.
The project is aimed at equipping the primary and secondary schools and is part of the post-Covid-19 stimulus plan to help the jua kali sector stand on its feet.
Operating under the Economic Stimulus Programme, the project runs on Sh1.9 billion budget and is expected to boost the economy by creating employment for the informal sectors.
While launching the project in Umoja, Nairobi, President Uhuru Kenyatta said the government has resorted to contracting the jua kali artisans instead of larger companies to empower the youth. A desk will be bought by the government at Sh3,800.
“After Kazi Mtaani program, we have said instead of school desks being made by big companies, we give our youth the opportunity to exercise their skills.”
“We believe in individuals earning from their sweat and hence we decided to give our skilled youth the opportunity to earn decent livelihoods,” he told the media.
President Uhuru said that the government was committed to ensuring that the economy recovers. He said this is being done by creating enabling environment for workers across various sectors.
“I don’t want to engage in empty politics of name calling. Rather, I am working hard to ensure all Kenyans work and enjoy the fruits of their labour,” he said.
He urged the concerned ministries to ensure all the artisans benefit from the project as envisaged by the State.
“We want to ensure all our youth with skills are engaged so as to benefit from their sweat. This program is not for Nairobi alone but for all Kenyans who are skilled and are working in the jua kali sector,” he said.
He also had a word for artisans. He called on them to make high quality furniture and consider forming social groups that would help them make wise financial decisions.
“Once you start this work encourage all young people to form SACCO’s where they can be putting their savings. You should not utilise every coin, it is wise for you to save for the future,” Uhuru said.
Secondary school heads association boss Kahi Indimuli lauded the step by the government but called for the building of even more classrooms.
“Most of the schools have desks. The few that don’t have can be mapped out and allocated. However, what we really need is adequate classes to space the desks,” said Indimuli
During the event, the President appealed to the MPs to use their Constituency Development Fund (CDF) to support the infrastructural development in schools ahead of reopening.
“I invite stakeholders, MPs through CDF allocations on education, county governments in their education programmes, the private sector and other well-wishers across the country and beyond to work with us in supporting and augmenting the expansion of school infrastructure,” Uhuru said.
The government has been presented with another challenge of creating more space to ensure there is social distance in classrooms during learning.