31 August 2011

Rwanda: OLC Boss Calls On Kagame

Village Urugwiro — The visiting chairman and CEO of One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), Rodrigo Arboleda, yesterday paid a courtesy call on President Paul Kagame at Village Urugwiro.

Arboleda, who concluded his four-day visit yesterday, told reporters after the meeting that his visit was partly to pay tribute to the Head of State and thank him for transforming the country and overseeing reforms.

"I came here to pay tribute and homage to President Kagame and the people of Rwanda for the miracle they have performed, having been able to overcome the tragedy they went through," Arboleda said.

"Education in Rwanda is becoming the cementing element of this consolidation of peace and prosperity. The main purpose of my visit was to recognise and honour what the Rwandan people, through the leadership, have been able to achieve".

Arboleda added that the implementation of the OLPC program has been successful. He observed that Rwanda is now looking at the next stage of improving the use and distribution of computers among school children.

He compared the introduction of the OLPC in Rwanda to the conceiving and eventual birth of child who is now healthy and maturing well.

"I have visited various ministries, several parts of the country and schools and talked to many people, and what I found is that Rwandans are a group of determined people, very hospitable despite the tragedy they went through," he added.

"Rwandans have shown that they are more interested in the future than in the past and that is the capacity they should not lose".

Arboleda, who arrived on Saturday, visited Gahini Primary school in the Eastern Province as well as schools in Nyarugenge District implementing the OLPC program.

According to the Minister of State for Primary and Secondary Education, Dr. Mathias Harebamungu, the OLPC Chairman also delivered a message from the founder of OLPC Association Nicholas Negroponte, commending Rwanda for prioritising ICT in education.

Harebamungu said that the OLPC Association recognises the progress Rwanda has made and the vision it has, which sets a precedent for other African countries to follow.

He noted that Rwanda has reached impressing levels in the implementation of the OLPC program, noting that it had now gone beyond distributing computers to connecting them to servers. He said the government has distributed computers in over 128 schools.

The Minister of State said that once the education sector is connected to a single server, teachers and students would be able to access and exchange knowledge using the technology in a bid to make Rwanda one of the few countries to integrate ICT in education.

65,000 computers have been distributed while an additional 35,000 would be deployed soon. Over 60,000 more laptops will be imported this year.

The government targets to have 160,000 laptops deployed by June 2012 as part of the government's program to promote computer-knowledge based education.

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