Not too long ago, The New Times ran a piece that read something to the effect that Rwandan teachers were to be computer literate by 2010. The ICT training and research center had drawn up a plan to train teachers in various workshops at KIST. A year has gone by, I patiently await the follow-up piece…
In line with this, World Links programme provided hardware for a number of labs and trained school teachers around the country in the early 2000s…
One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) programme has been a heavily supported scheme by the Ministry of Education and continues to provide avenues for primary school students to gain exposure to computer hardware and software. I am sure the list goes on.
Follow-up, accountability, and assessment: syllable-rich words that call for reinforcement or an evaluation of a previous action, the goal being to increase effectiveness. Hundreds of computers have been installed in schools and training workshops held to support the vision of ICT/computer literacy in the country. Question is, where is the follow-up? I am quick to ask this because we need to be looking at the end of the pipeline in order to effectively evaluate these ‘investments’.Where are the primary school students that were given computer training in 2002? What has become of that training? Are we seeing a breed of tech-savvy students using their computer literacy to explore avenues like programming (app development, for example) with support from their teachers – who received training as well? Or did we only contribute our quota of world users using Facebook?
Computer literacy may have to assume an ‘out-of-the-box’ shape if we are trying to ignite a tech revolution on these soils. Learning to use Microsoft word is one step but is hardly the skill set that will shake our tech world. I am well aware that ‘computer literacy’ is a broad term. I should be more explicit and say that it is imperative that students are empowered to go beyond basic and intermediate skills such as using the keyboard, surfing the web, and navigating a computer’s file system: advanced skills that entail repairing hardware, programming and data security fit the bill better.
Creation of gifted programmes in schools that set aside class time for students who demonstrate interest or advanced skills to explore elementary programming languages and projects is one avenue to explore. A possible obstacle could be the lack of trained staff: however, independent learning could be encouraged and supervised, and volunteers recruited from engineering firms to spend a weekend a month with students in different schools and provide direction. It is enriching for both student and mentor.
This is only one answer, the key question at hand is, what mechanisms do we have (or should we have) to ensure that Rwanda doesn’t cultivate ‘computer literate’ word-processor gurus but becomes the ICT hub of the region?
What do you think?
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