Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday launched the 1.9 billion shillings (about 17.6 million U.S. dollars) school furniture project that will see local artisans supply some 650,000 locally assembled desks.

Kenyatta said the project is modeled on the ongoing youth community work (dubbed Kazi Mtaani) employment initiative as part of the post-COVID-19 economic recovery plan.

“We believe in individuals earning from their sweat and hence we decided to give our skilled youth the opportunity to earn decent livelihoods,” Kenyatta said during the launch of the project in Nairobi.

He said besides equipping secondary and primary schools, the project which is part of the government’s post-COVID-19 economic stimulus program, is aimed at boosting the informal sector commonly referred to as jua kali (hot sun) sector.

“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,” said Kenyatta.

He reiterated his commitment to continue improving the lives of all Kenyans by creating an enabling environment for hard-working citizens to thrive.

Kenyatta directed the ministries of education and interior to ensure that the project benefits artisans across the country.

“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.

The president challenged local artisans to ensure they assemble and supply desks that meet the highest quality standards and advised project beneficiaries to form saving societies to grow their earnings from the project.

The launch of the project came after the government released guidelines for reopening of the schools where learners, teachers and school workers will be required to wear face masks at all times, maintain physical distance and check for COVID-19 symptoms daily once learning resumes.

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