Covid-19 Increases Appetite for eLearning in Rwanda

The children can continue with their courses at home now, provided internet. Photo Unicef

Rwanda Education Board (REB) has doubled its capacity in using e-learning systems, as a way of working around the coronavirus epidemic which has affected the school calendar this semester.

At the outbreak of the first coronavirus case March 14, the education ministry directed all schools and public institutions to close their operations and send home all students to prevent further spread of the virus.

Like many other institutions, one of the measures REB took, to stay relevant was to totally cancel all their daily activities of issuing examination equivalence papers, collection and document certification for the next two weeks starting March 16.

In the meantime, as students continued traveling back home this week, REB says that it has for the last three days been updating the e-learnings databases found on http://elearning.reb.rw to have them stay in touch with their studies.

The eLearning platform serves as an area for e-assessment, for online digital
Content access, continuous professional development for teachers and school leaders, for school management, and for parents’ communications, and for career guidance.

The platform contains all subjects for primary and secondary, TTC, assessments, teacher training materials on United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) ICT competences and school leadership.

During this coronavirus period, REB said this Friday that it is encouraging students (primary, secondary and Technical) to use eLearning aide and stay updated with their studies.

For one to use this platform, they have to have access to internet and an internet enabled gadget like a computer, laptop, smartphone or tablet.

Once a student logs into the platform, they can browse in, then get to digital content, courses are arranged per grade per subject starting from primary one till senior six, for all combinations.

“We have 7 tracks of forums led by teachers whereby students can pose questions. Math, physics, biology, chemistry, computer science, English, humanities,” said Dr. Christine Niyizamwiyitira, the Head of Department ICT in education at REB.

Shockingly, REB acknowledges the coming of coronavirus has so far increased the number of students accessing the eLearning material.

For example, before coronavirus, the platform would register about 5,000 student’s entries but now the traffic has goes up to 15,000.

“We only had one server, but now we are migrating to even a bigger one that can receive one million users simultaneously,” Niyizamwiyitira said.

To keep this platform relevant, REB said that they are looking for teachers who can be available and interact with students whose numbers are expected to increase in the next days.

So far129 Master trainers are on standby to help other 1,500 teachers already enrolled into the system, but Niyizamwiyitira says that this is also an opportunity to encourage other teachers to chip in and participate.

Antonine Kabanda, a parent said that the system should be improved so that children can be quizzed on the lessons they have gone through online.

The children say this can help them to access themselves to know if they understood the lessons or not, otherwise they lose interest very fast,” Kabanda said.

There are about 2.5million pupils in primary and about 600.000 in secondary and the enrolment on the eLearning platform shows that more students are still left out.

A look at the neighborhoods, during this covid-19 unprecedented school break, one can see some pupils either playing or using their revision books to remain on track.

For those who are not using the eLearning platform, is either because many are not aware or interested in learning during the break, while others have other options.

Sylidio Sebuharara, a parent in Rubavu district said that many parents in the area have shifted to using the WhatApp groups (which bring parents and teachers together) to communicate school matters including continued lessons for their children.

“We have been receiving children’s homework everyday on the groups, and what we do is to print out, work on the excercises with the children to prepate them for exams when they return to school,” Sebuharara said.




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