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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Scaling up ICT in schools

The government targets to increase the use of ICT in education sector to 25 per cent within the next two years, according to Dr. Evode Mukama, the Head of ICT in Education Department at Rwanda Education Board (REB).
It currently stands at 20 per cent.
He made the remarks yesterday while speaking to The New Times on the sidelines of the just concluded three-day conference under the theme: "Enhancing Learning Through Technology".
The meeting aimed at engaging experts to discuss and exchange information to enhance education using the power of ICT.
"We are emphasising the use of ICT in schools because it enables students to access the best content that would not be found in school libraries," he said.
"So far there are about 115,000 computers in primary schools all over the country, and in all districts, at least two schools are connected to the internet. In secondary education, we have more than 11,000 computers and our target is to increase the number within in the next two years," he explained.
He noted that, before the increase in ICT penetration, they would first conduct an impact assessment study to find out how the technology enhances the education system in the country.
Education experts view e-Learning in schools as a platform to create new ideas and innovations among the students. In a bid to increase the use of ICT in education, the government launched the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project in 2008. The project, which was launched by President Paul Kagame, has seen about 80,000 laptops distributed in 145 schools countrywide.
It is set to distribute 100,000 more laptops to ensure that all 416 administrative sectors in the country have an OLPC-enabled school. Prof. Manoj Maharaj, a lecturer at the School of Information Systems at South Africa's University of Kwazulu Natal, told The New Times that governments should be careful when empahasing on the penetration of ICT in schools.
"The most efficient use of ICT in education is first of all to make it available and easily accessible to all schools, for instance, the use of One Laptop Per child initiative. However, the use ICT shouldn't be at a level where teachers can feel threatened," he warned.
"If we lose our teachers, ICT will never replace them. We have to understand that the most important people in our schools, apart from our learners are our teachers. Once teachers understand that they are not threatened by ICT, they will instead incorporate it more effectively for the schools."
Rwanda has laid 2,500-kilometres of fibre optic cables to enhance access to various broadband services in the country. The cables will also enhance access to broadband services in schools.

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