The parliamentary committee on education, technology, culture and youth has assessed the impact the one-laptop-per-child program has had so far, and found that, although the program has made commendable progress in the use of technology (ICT) in education, the ministry of education has to strengthen its role in making sure that OLPC fully serves its role.
The assessment was made in September last year countrywide. "Mineduc has to make sure that the laptops distributed are being well maintained and fully exploited," said Agnes Mukazibera, the chairperson of the committee while presenting the report.
Mukazibera said that 2,594 schools were reached by the program, 675 of them government-owned, 738 government-sponsored, and 1818 private ones. The laptops were given to children from P4 to P6. 12,102 laptops were distributed of which 8,141 are being used.
"The reason why the rest is not being exploited is because of technical and managerial issues which Mineduc seem to have ignored," said Mukazibera.
Among the issues raised were passwords put in the computers as protection mechanism, and lack of trained personnel to help the children learn to use the laptops.
"All of those issues are for Mineduc to solve. There are the ones who put in the passwords and trained only one person at the district level to know how to deal with the computers. So schools sometimes fail to remove the codes and then have to wait that individual, which is insane. The ministry has to quickly remove the codes in order to help the kids exploit the computers," one lawmaker said.
Concerning the lack of trained teachers, lawmakers recommended that the education ministry should train as many people as possible to benefit the kids in the communities. "Many those children are from illiterate families. Who will train them if not their teachers? Mineduc has to decentralize the maintenance issue," the MP remarked.
Parliamentarians resolved to that Mineduc has to study a way of making OLPC items reach all schools so that all children benefit from the use of ICT tools instead of having a few privileged and others who are ignored.
However, the MPs commended the fact that the children who have so far been reached by the program have learnt a lot. "We have realized that these kids are being increasingly good at using ICT. They can draw, take pictures and most importantly write and save different types of documents," stressed MP Veneranda Nyirahirwa, the vice chair of the committee.