Local tech partners have called on the development institutions and government to extend digital skills training to the refugee students living in the camps, as they reportedly lag behind, compared to other members of the community.
The call was made during the EdTech Monday, a program held on 30 May 2022 via KT radio.
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 EdTech entrepreneurs, Education, and technology policymakers, and EdTech consumers to discuss how to tap into the power of technology to increase learning outcomes.
EdTech Monday Rwanda discussions take place on KT Radio every last Monday of the month and the participating audience differs depending on the topic of the day.
In the just ended month, the discussions centered on “Digital skills awareness for refugee students in Rwanda.”
The partners said that refugee students in primary and secondary schools hardly access IT training opportunities in camps and at schools, as their schools remain less or not equipped with information technology labs, commonly known as smart classrooms.
Tech experts say the condition will limit job opportunities for the refugees in the future.
“The university certificate isn’t enough to secure a job. Always, the employer looks at the experience including skills in ICT targeting productivity. The competition on labor market is stiff and needs a variety of skills including ICT. For the refugee students, they are lagging behind,” Yussouf Ntwali, CEO of BAG Innovation company said.
“The employer needs a worker who is able to help him/her in daily activities immediately after hiring, not teaching the employee how to do the job he requested.”
BAG Innovation is an online platform that connects graduates to employers online.
Giving example, Janvier Ismael Gasana from Maison Shalom International said that the Mahama refugee camp hosts about 60,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi, among them 50% are children and youth that need digital skills but do not access them.
Maison Shalom International is an organization that aims at taking care of orphans, but also extends digital awareness for students and youth in the Mahama refugee camp.
“There are very many students in the camp. We train them depending on our capacity where we afford 80 students per class whom we teach basic computer skills. However, this is not enough to learn digital skills, students are many compared to our capacity,” said Gasana .
According to Gasana, local and international organizations conduct campaigns for several activities, but nothing is done to promote digital awareness, which is likely to negatively impact refugees in the future.
The Ministry of education says that since the establishment of government policy on ICT in education, the implementation which is supposed to be in all primary, and secondary schools has reached 55% under the 2017-2024 timeline out of the 84% who were targeted.
“We have no smart classrooms in refugee camps’ schools. Basically, the digital skills training is behind,” Cynthia Niyongere, a refugee and student at the University of People said.
The University of the People is a non-profit private, distance education university based in Colorado state, USA.
“Maison Shalom is the only training center in the camp, it is very small compared to the youth available who want to learn computer skills. Other schools, whether primary or secondary, have no computers,” she added.