Rwanda Education Board (REB) has said that it is working with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and other partners to deliver lessons, through radio and television, for students who don't have access to e-learning platforms amid the COVID-19 crisis.
The response follows calls by activists calling on the Ministry of Education to put in place easy-to-use distance learning tools for vulnerable students with no access to the internet and smart devices such as smartphones and computers during lockdown.
Maggie Korde, Country Director of Save the Children Rwanda, said there is a need for inclusive remote learning since the closure of schools will hit the most marginalised children hardest.
"We request the Ministry of Education to ensure the technologies used aren't excluding the poor, disabled or marginalised children," she said.
We need to get creative, she added.
"In communities with little or no access to the internet, for example, radio programmes can enable children to continue their learning, or mitigate the consequences of not being in school."
Speaking to The New Times on Thursday, Rwanda Education Board Director General Irené Ndayambaje said that they are working with UNICEF and other partners to develop Radio and TV programmes for vulnerable students who do not have access to the internet, smartphones, and computers to access e-learning platforms.
"We are working with different partners in the project aimed to develop lessons to be aired on Radio and TV which will start a few days ahead. The children who are not able to access other e-learning platforms such as YouTube and website will now be accessing the lessons on Radio and TV during the lockdown," he said.
The lessons are accessed by nursery, primary and secondary schools, he said.
How it will work
Ndayambaje explained that the delivery of lessons on Radio and TV is different from other e-learning platforms.
"The lessons will be prepared in a way that makes it easy for students, parents, and teachers to master. But they can also send feedback so that questions get answered in the next aired programs," he said.
The official said preparations for the lessons are ongoing.
"We record teachers delivering a lesson and then the records will be aired on Radio and TV," he said.
"In order to support kindergarten children, teachers, parents, and caregivers for nursery schools are the ones to use the e-learning platforms and help those children. Lower primary school students will also be supported in the same way by caregivers. But upper primary students and secondary school students are able to navigate and use all e-learning platforms," he said.
For those who have access to the internet and smart devices, students' and teachers' books, audios, videos and photos are accessible in e-learning tools for free.
"The systems are interactive since there are tutors to help students and other users. The lessons on YouTube will not require internet charges after partnering with Telecom companies to finance the project," Ndayambaje said.
University students and Rwanda Polytechnic colleges have their e-learning platforms, he noted.
Asked if the persistence of the COVID-19 crisis could trigger a repeat of the academic year, Ndayambaje said the Ministry will take decisions in due time.
More than 120 countries have already introduced nationwide school and university closures affecting nearly three-quarters of the world's student population - an estimated 1.2 billion learners - according to UNESCO and that number is expected to rise as the coronavirus looks set to spread further.