14 May 2012

Rwanda: 100,000 More Laptops for Schools

Photo: New Times
Primary school children using laptops. Over 200,000 units will have been distributed by the end of the year.

The Ministry of Education aims to have distributed 200,000 computers to primary school children across the country by the end of the year. The exercise is under the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) Project.

According to Nkubito Bakuramutsa, the project's coordinator, as many as 105,000 XO laptops have already been distributed to various primary schools already.

"A consignment of 100,000 laptops, worth US$20 million, will be arriving this month and our target is to distribute 200,000 laptops by the end of December," Bakuramutsa said.

Over 145 schools have so far benefited from the project, he said.

"One Laptop per Child Programme is a major driver towards a knowledge-based economy," Bakuramutsa observed.

He noted that the project's initial plan was to distribute the computers to at least five schools in each district.

This was, however, revised to at least one school in each sector as more parents now acknowledge the importance of their children using laptops. There are 416 sectors in the country.

The official explained that each beneficiary school would have a server installed with mathematics, science and English software to enable teachers to teach using laptops.

He said over 20,000 pupils in Primary Six across the country are capable of using various computer programmes, adding that schools with no access to electricity will be connected to solar energy.

"I call upon parents and teachers to support the OLPC project. I am optimistic that the beneficiaries will compete favourably on the labour market after completing their studies," Bakuramutsa noted.

Schools closer to the national grid are working with their respective districts and the Energy, Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA) to have them connected to electricity, he added.

Bakuramutsa added that the project trains two teachers to support schools on troubleshooting hardware, software and XO applications.

OLPC Project has so far trained more than 1,500 teachers and heads of school, and the target is to train at least 1,200 more teachers.

Government-supported schools are provided the custom-made computers free of charge saying that there was another arrangement for private schools to buy them at a subsidised price of $200 (approx. Rwf120, 000).

The OLPC scheme was launched in Rwanda by President Paul Kagame in September 2008, with a target to have all pupils between P4 to P6 owning and using the green-and-white laptops.

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