Rwanda Seeks to Expand Internet Broadband for Smart Education - Minister Uwamariya

The Minister of Education Dr. Valentine Uwamariya has said that Rwanda is trying to embark on smart education by setting up a platform with fast internet particularly for the education sector, building from an existing fiber optic network.

She was speaking at the opening of eLearning Conference, Africa's leading conference and exhibition on digital learning, education, training and skills development, which is taking place at Kigali Convention Center from May 11 to 13.

The minister is aware that when Covid-19 pandemic arose, Rwanda wasn't prepared enough to use technology in education since it couldn't be accessed by all people due to insufficient infrastructure and high cost.

She declared that the country seeks to expand internet broadband and connectivity to a big area, reduce the cost of internet and emphasize on training teachers as well as students on how to use technology.

She said they are also looking for partners and sponsors to help the country bring that to life.

Commenting on the eLearning Africa conference, she said that as the world saw that e-learning could be a solution in hard times like Covid-19 pandemic, people in education sector seek to match that solution with the quality of education they want, adding that they also look at what is needed so that technology can help them achieve their goals.

She added: "Rwanda has chosen to make ICT a core of our education delivery chain because we believe in its power to improve teaching, learning and contributing to the quality of education we want."

We need to focus, she continued, on equipping our young people with the digital skills they need to enable them to be prepared for the social-economic development of our country based on technology.

Rebecca Stromeyer, eLearning Africa founder said that the conference is set to discuss how technology can support education and skills development in various ways, adding that there is a need to continue to offer education through online access such as zoom access, mobile learning, among other channels.

She declared that the conference is also about sharing best practices but also failures, adding that participants learn from each other, share experiences and collaborate.

She noted that they also address the need for infrastructure like electricity as well as accessibility and affordability of internet and technological devices.

Dr Njeri Mwagiru, senior futurist at the Institute for Futures Research (IFR) said that people need to look at the future with new lenses by expanding their imagination, as well as deepening and broadening their analysis on the challenges they are facing in e-learning.

He noted that applying domain lenses, learning from each other and building on relationships, empathy and connection are important aspects that can help.

"Let us welcome diverse approaches, alternative approaches and expand our futures because there are multiple possible futures that are available to us and they start today with the actions that we put into place. I want us to walk together to the future that we can create," she said.

eLearning Africa conference also includes an exhibition that hosts leading international and African education, training and technology companies and institutions.

Genevieve Ayinkamiye, Managing Director of Keza Education Future Lab is one of the exhibitors.

Her social enterprise provides a wide range of services in advanced education that include provision of learning devices to both students and teachers, developing learning platforms and helping schools to access them, and provision of extracurricular activities by delivering robotic and programming courses.

She said that exhibiting in eLearning Africa is profitable because she was able to see and learn how other exhibitors are promoting e-learning, helping their communities to learn without physically attending schools.

She added: "We are also interacting with many people who are interested in what we are doing and are offering support. Some want to help us expand our services to other countries."

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