The Ministry of Education says internet prices are still a challenge for students who wish to learn using a blended model of learning, but the biggest ssue remains unaffordable laptops that are required at a time technology is highly needed in teaching due to the pandemic.
With a global health crisis going on (Covid-19 pandemic), ‘blended learning is one of many proposed models for the future of technology-assisted classrooms where students are expected to reduce the physical classrooms and use online learning either at school premises or in distance learning to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“Internet prices are still a challenge, but not the biggest. All students don’t have computers. They are costly. The biggest challenge is that e-learning gadgets are not affordable for all households,” Bella Rwigamba, Chief Digital Officer at the Ministry of Education said.
“Unaffordable e-learning gadgets are still an obstacle. Though, some parents and students have not yet also perceived the efficiency of technology in teaching and learning. The awareness is also much needed. This resistance of adjusting to technology has been indicated by parents who hire teachers to coach children in homes,” Rwigamba said.
She added that lessons taught during coaching can be taught online, but some parents have resisted and continue paying money to hire coachers.
Rwigamba made the observation during EdTech Monday Rwanda program at KT Radio on 28 June 2021.
EdTech Monday Rwanda is a Mastercard Foundation and ICT Chamber initiative that aims to spark the EdTech Ecosystem in Rwanda.
The initiative brings together EdTech stakeholders, including the EdTech entrepreneurs, Education, and technology policymakers, and EdTech consumers to discuss how to tap into the power of technology to increase learning outcomes.
When Covid-19 hit the country in March 2020, the Ministry of education encouraged schools and students to adjust to online learning after physical attendance was halted to stop the further spread of the New Coronavirus.
In the process, the Ministry of Education launched radio, television, and online learning platforms for students to continue with studies, after schools were suspended on March 16, 2020.
According to the Ministry of Education, the technology methods aimed at helping students to remain updated so that when they return to school, they can proceed without any problem.
The education ministry partnered with KT radio, Radio Rwanda, Radio Maria Rwanda, Radio 10, and Radio Inkoramutima.
Two television stations also embraced this partnership to offer courses during this COVID-19 lockdown. They were Rwanda TV and TV10.
A lot has been done to use technology in teaching, but Rwigamba says more is needed like lowering internet costs and prices for e-learning gadgets.
“Apart from challenges related to prices, people should understand that they can teach themselves using technology without necessarily hiring teachers,” Rwigamba said.
She noted that the rate of using technology in learning is still wanting.
The efforts of promoting technology in schools in Rwanda intensified in June 2008 with the government introducing the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project to help children in primary schools across the country develop creative technology skills and competencies.
Twelve years down the road, the OLPC program has promoted pupils’ learning and truly revolutionized education. However, technology in schools still faces challenges including inadequate internet connectivity.
According to the Ministry of Education, internet connectivity has reached 54% in schools.
During the EdTech program, Shadrach Munyeshyaka, Chief Executive Officer of Nyereka Tech limited said that his company works with schools but some students and teachers have resisted welcoming new technologies.
Nyereka Tech Limited is a local company that produces education technologies that help students carry out lessons online.
“We work with students and schools, but the most complaints we receive is about insufficient money to buy e-learning gadgets,” Munyeshyaka said.
He added that Nyereka Tech limited is working with other tech companies to make prices affordable for clients, depending on the agreement with them.
#EdTechMonday is underway on @ktradiorw. Tune in now & weigh in on the issue of licenses in EdTech development. The guests @BellaRwigamba, the Chief Digital Officer at @Rwanda_Edu & Shadrach Munyeshyaka, the Founder & CEO of @nyerekatech Ltd are talking about the ICT ecosystem. pic.twitter.com/K6rhhXf8ka
— KT Press Rwanda (@ktpressrwanda) June 28, 2021