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Kigali partners with Microsoft to digitise education

ICT Students in a lab in Kigali, Rwanda. FILE PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA | NMG
ICT Students in a lab in Kigali, Rwanda. FILE PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA | NMG 

Rwanda has announced plans to digitise its education system to further innovation, job creation and education quality, the country's education minister said Wednesday.

Musafiri Papias Malimba the government entered into an agreement with US tech giant Microsoft to digitise Rwanda education through a "smart-classroom" project.

"We are looking at adopting digitised based education system which will lower the cost of delivering the curriculum and learning materials to schools and improve learning," noting Rwandan students will be exposed to a system that emphasises computers and internet use in the classroom.

Mr Malimba says the project is expected to provide more alternatives to address the socio-economic challenges that face many emerging economies, particularly in terms of improving access to education.

In 2014, Rwanda's ministry of education entered a partnership with Microsoft to incorporate ICT into various aspects of the education sector, ranging from helping students access computers and learning to use basic programmes such as Word and Excel in schools.

It is planned under the partnership that by the year 2020, all schools in the country will have two smart classrooms and all subjects will have been digitized, according to the ministry.

The ministry further said the first batch of schools will be having smart classrooms by the end of 2017.

Low internet penetration

Available statistics from the Rwanda Education Board indicate that only 9 per cent or 531 schools in Rwanda currently have access to the internet.

In 2010, the State rolled out more than 3,000 kilometres of fibre optic cable across the country to enable better access to internet services.

The infrastructure was expected to boost access to various broadband services, including applications such as e-governance, e-banking, e-learning and e-health as Rwanda looks to achieve middle-income status by 2020.

The 2015 global ICT report released by the World Economic Forum ranked Rwanda among top ten countries in Africa that are most dynamic performers when it comes to ICT development.

The government plans to establish an ICT park that will be a base of technological investments, including training, industries, research and development.