Local Content and Political Will in Rwanda

Rwanda is trying to become the third country to roll out XOs to all of its primary-school children, after Peru and Uruguay. The eventual aim is to make Rwanda the high-tech hub of Africa, beating out even South Africa. Here is an excerpt from an update on the situation.

Rwanda: With Locally-Made Content, Laptops Become Real Education Tools

It’s been over two years that the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project, under the Ministry of Education, started the distribution of XO laptops, as they are officially called, to children of P4 to P6 across the country. As many as 105,000 XO laptops have already been deployed so far.

However, only 185 out of 2,388 public primary schools have so far been served mainly due to the fact that the majority still has no electricity (only 473 do, although a program of setting up solar power in the remaining ones is being rolled out)…

Until now, students were being introduced to the pre-loaded general content, most of the time unrelated to the curriculum. Yet this is changing, and the integration of the curriculum is already being carried out.

“The integration of curriculum is a fundamental step in our strategy,” says Nkubito Bakuramutsa, the OLPC Coordinator. “The idea of integrating technology in schools goes beyond just the deployment of laptops. It is a full transformation of the role of the teacher who becomes a facilitator, a moderator between the digital knowledge in laptops and the students.”

We used to get a lot of complaints that Nicholas Negroponte claimed that the XO was a silver bullet for education and ending poverty, that he claimed that nothing else was needed, such as electricity, Internet access, curriculum development, support, maintenance and repair, or teacher training. It is true that the OLPC and its Sugar software were designed to work in schools that did not have adequately-trained teachers, even in the absence of Internet connections, and that they are having successes in such situations. But Rwanda is demonstrating precisely what Nicholas intended: We provide what nobody else can provide, and governments do what they already know how to do in order to provide the rest.

Peru and Uruguay are considered middle-income countries, with Gross National Income (GNI) per capita of $4,710 and $10,590 respectively. Rwanda is far less developed, with GNI of $540. It just shows you what political will is worth in a country that truly understands that it cannot afford continued poverty.

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About mokurai

Generalist; End poverty at a profit for all
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One Response to Local Content and Political Will in Rwanda

  1. mlhayes1 says:

    There may be a way to support the Rwanda education initiative. I do not know of it, but if you like the idea, like this communication. If enough people lke the article, I will see if the author will be interested in passing the appropriate contact information for individual support through your church or non-profit organization.

    Why is this important or relevant to a developed nation? It is my opinion that the truest form of innovation occurs at the point of the greatest need where the will to succeed overcomes the ignorance of apathy. We0have some hugh issues w/ref to education in our nation. Apathy is more closely related to education industry lethergy, perhaps that is too kind of a descrption. It seems that parents are on their own because the schools are political mine fields where conformity to standardized testing is the holy grail

    If smaller less developed nations can transform their futuresan why can’t we. All people are born equally infantile nd we eduucate them or we don’t. What you my intuitively learn from this report is as important as what you already know about the school your child is attending.
    Take a moment to decide what you like and let us know your prefernces.

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