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[May 22, 2014]
ICT in Rwanda Schools
(AllAfrica Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) The 21st century is the ultimate age of globalization. Technology is playing an immense role in shaping and transforming the society and influencing the way that life is being lived today.
With a vast number of new inventions taking place worldwide on a regular basis, economic competition between countries is on the rise and the success of each country highly depends on the quality of its workforce. It is, therefore, pertinent that governments equip their citizens with the training that is needed to thrive in the highly modernized and extremely competitive corporate environment that has been created by technology.
However, most developing countries are still falling behind in regards to investment in technology. Thus, the level of computer literacy is still very low. This is mainly caused by constraints brought about by affordability and the fact that most policy makers lack the capacity to formulate strategies that incorporate Information and Communication Technology (ICT) education in school curricula.
ICT education in Rwanda: Unlike most developing countries, Rwanda has made significant investments in ICT education in schools.
In July, 2000, the government of Rwanda launched vision 2020, whose aim was to move the country from the humanitarian assistance phase to one of sustainable development. One of the pillars of vision 2020 was to transform Rwanda into a knowledge-based economy.
To this end, various projects like One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project were launched. The project that was officially started in 2008 aims at providing upper primary school pupils with early access to computer skills while expanding their knowledge on specific subjects like science, mathematics, languages and social sciences.
Through this project, approximately 250,000 laptops have been distributed to various primary school students in the country, earning Rwanda third place in laptop deployment worldwide.
OLPC Rwanda in partnership with Rwanda Education Board also organises for Rwandan students to participate in international scratch day. This is a competition that takes place on an annual basis and offers upper primary pupils between the ages of ten and twelve an opportunity to create programmes and share them with the world through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
This year's event was held on 17th May at the Kigali Public Library and seventeen students who had designed programmes about various topics like environmental protection, health, transportation actively participated. Kezia Betty, a twelve year-old primary six pupil at Gisozi I emerged the winner, having displayed an impressive programme that elaborated the importance of gender equality.
Another project that was undertaken was the Solar Powered Internet School (SPIS) that was built at GS Kamabare School in Bugesera district by Samsung Electronics East African Company this month. The SPIS is a 40-foot shipping container that is equipped with 25 galaxy tablets, a printer, and solar panels among other things. Just like OLPC, SPIC's aim is geared towards providing school-going children with easy access to modern technology.
Why should technology be used in schools? In a typical classroom environment, students acquire an inadequate amount of information as it is provided by one source. Therefore, their knowledge on a particular subject matter is always limited in quantity and on top of that, they are obligated to accept the opinion of that one source. However, with the presence of the Internet, the knowledge that students can obtain on any topic of interest is unquestionably limitless.
It is also important to mention the fact that students have different paces at which they grasp the knowledge that is being imparted in the classrooms. Internet services create an opportunity for students to explore difficult lessons to gain a wide depth of understanding beyond the four walls of the classroom.
As earlier mentioned, the 21st century is the age of globalization and thus, it is important for students to expand their worldview. With the availability of various social media platforms, interaction, dialogue and collaboration with other people from around the globe can be done at low costs.
Celestine Ngarambe, a facilitator at OLPC Rwanda, says: "Increase in computer literacy facilitates interactive learning among students and their teachers. This encourages creativity, innovation and participation." Of course, the introduction of technology in Rwandan schools is not without shortcomings. As there is no specific provision in the curriculum on when and how laptops should be used in the classroom environment, the choice is left in the hands of teachers. Some of these teachers still lack the adequate technical skills to operate the laptops and might find it inconveniencing to use them.
Ngarambe also says thatstudents have a tendency to express more interest in non-academic ventures like computer games.
That said, for Rwanda to achieve a desirable workforce, it is essential to make reforms in the education system, incorporating the use of technology in the school curriculum so that students are equipped with competences and skills that can, sooner or later be applied to create up-to-date, unique and long-lasting solutions for the present generation.
Copyright The New Times. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).
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