Education and ICT specialists have said that in the near future Rwandan schools will be able to have affordable internet considering progress made in the ICT in education policy in Rwanda.
Angelo Munezero, the Public Digitization Analyst at Rwanda’s Ministry of ICT and Innovation, said that innovation in the pandemic times has come up strongly to support the education system especially during the lockdown periods thus improving use of ICT in Education policy.
Munezero revealed that in collaboration with the education ministry, they are implementing a GIGA pilot initiative In Bugesera district to have full access to the internet and equipment to school but also make internet affordable in schools.
Rwanda was selected in 2020 to implement the Giga initiative launched in 2019 by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), with the aim to provide connectivity to every school in the world by 2030.
Current statistics show that nearly all Rwandan schools are within 30km of the fiber network and covered by mobile broadband and 2,401 schools have been connected but 1,796 schools (43%) remain without internet.
Munezero said that the plan here is to have teachers trained, reduce the burden of cost of internet and also the ICT in schools used to have a productive community.
“The goal is to have the internet become a primary need. Just as water and electricity because it is one of the things that can be a source of information and doing business using available gadgets,” Munezero said during an EduTechMonday talk show on KTRadio under the theme “Promoting ICT in Education; The Sustainable Way”.
Munezero said that there are other initiatives such as established coding academy (in Nyabihu) which will improve education system and create more space for innovation in other sectors besides education.
Rwanda Coding Academy opened its doors for the first time on 4th February 2019 starting with 60 students in total – 30 girls and 30 boys, who were among the top achievers in STEM subjects in 2018 O’ Level National Exams.
Some parents who called in said that internet in schools is very expensive in cost and slow yet the government has invested heavily in fibre optic cable ( 2,300 kilometres) worth $95 million in 2011 and a 96% 4G internet coverage.
Munezero said that the cost of internet is catered for by the government but with the presence of fibre optic there is a call for schools to also find ways of contributing and if the Bugesera pilot project succeeds, more schools will afford internet.
Dr. Christine NIYIZAMWIYITIRA, the Head of ICT in Education said that since the establishment of government policy on ICT in education, the implementation which was supposed to be in all primary, secondary schools has reached 55% under the 2017-2024 timeline of the 84% who were targeted
She said the challenges remain in the number of computers for students and teachers and also access to electricity but the education ministry is working with the ministry of infrastructure to have primary infrastructure of electricity in schools.
On the issue of affordable internet in schools, NIYIZAMWIYITIRA said that the Cabinet discussed a project to improve local access of internet in schools to make internet affordable in the near future.
Oliver Umukura, founder and CEO Kurious Ltd- which has a platform that enables integrating use of ICT in lesson planning and execution in a classroom setting, says that learning online will be possible because of a local platform that enables Rwandans to learn using a locally developed ICT platform.
Umukura said that there is a need to develop more platforms where teachers can teach without physically being present in a classroom.