Rwanda Focus (Kigali)

12 February 2013

Rwanda: MTN Rwanda, Ericsson Join Hands to Connect Schools

Fifty-six laptop computers and free internet connectivity have been given to two schools of Mayange sector in Bugesera by MTN Rwanda and Ericsson in an initiative that will offer quality education for underprivileged students who previously did not have access to technology in education.

The donation is a part of the initiative called 'Connect to Learn' that intends to use the latest technology and run in Groupe scolaire Mayange A, and Groupe scholaire Kamabuye in partnership with the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Millennium Promise.

MTN is providing optimized 3G connectivity and free internet connectivity for a period of one year. "MTN is proud to be a partner in this initiative and supports government policies that are aimed at transforming Rwandan citizens into skilled human resource," said Khaled Mikkawi, CEO of MTN Rwanda. "We are already doing this by committing ourselves to initiatives that ensure equitable access to quality education with the use of technology."

He was speaking on Tuesday during the launch of the initiative at Groupe Scolaire Kamabuye.

Ericsson provided not only the computers, but also scholarships for outstanding girls who face financial challenges. 42 girls will this year participate in the program's comprehensive scholarship scheme while it supported 40 last year.

According to the partners, the investment in ICT facilities is meant to enhance the quality and delivery of education in the schools in order to enable students and teachers to benefit from access to global news, information and the latest educational content.

Marie-Christine Gasingirwa, the director general of Science, Technology and Research in the education ministry, called upon the students to take advantage of the ICT tools to develop more home-grown solutions for the benefit of their communities. "What is being done in education is to empower you, and you should use that chance very well because ICT offers enabling tools to improve education quality," she said.

ICT Minister Jean-Philbert Nsengimana for his part remarked that the Connect to Learn initiative is in line with the country's commitment to provide all schools with ICT facilities.

"Rwanda has decided that all of our schools have to become smart schools," Nsengimana pointed out, adding that the first step is to make sure that all students in secondary schools have access to computer and at then provide them with internet.

Since starting its operations in sub-Saharan Africa in 2010, Connect to Learn has established its girls scholarship program in Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda, enabling 663 students to enroll in secondary schools on 3 to 4-year scholarships. In total, the initiative has given some 7,000 African students access to quality teaching and learning resources.

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