Gov't launches laptop purchase programme for varsity students

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BK' s Diane Karusisi (L), Minister Nsengimana (R) hand over a laptop to one of the students. (Steven Muvunyi)

The government, in partnership with different companies, has launched laptop purchase programme for students in university.

The initiative was launched at the University of Rwanda’s College of Business and Economics where students and lecturers acquired Made in Rwanda laptops manufactured by Positivo BGH.

The programme is part of “Viziyo” initiative that aims to accelerate penetration of smart devices in Rwanda and increase countrywide broadband penetration.

The initiative will be jointly implemented by the government and telecommunication companies that are Intel, Africa Smart Investments distribution (ASI-D), Positivo BGH, MTN and Microsoft as well as Bank of Kigali.

The Minister for Education Dr Papias Musafiri said the initiative is a good beginning for the digitization of Rwanda’s education.

“A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single pace; the initiative marks an important milestone in the education sector. This is fundamental to ensure graduates are equipped with relevant skills for employment and entrepreneurship”, he said.

He also called upon lecturers to embrace the use of ICT to set an example for students by giving up traditional teaching methods.

“If lecturers continue to give and receive assignments in old format, they will not be providing enough incentive for the students to embrace ICTs,” he noted.

He encouraged students to take advantage of this opportunity and apply for these laptops that will help in learning, teaching and proper management of academic records.

“The world has become a global village so, we are preparing you to become global citizens,” he said.

According to Musafiri, it is projected that the initiative will see all university students own laptops within three years.

Students who are mostly first years’ welcomed the initiative.

“It was not easy to find the money to buy a computer at a go. The laptop will help me reduce costs and will facilitate me to get different opportunities that are found online. I will also improve my ICT skills and contribute to the development of the country,” said Frank Kamunini a student who got the laptop.

Speaking at the function, Jean Philbert Nsengimana, the Minister for Youth and ICT thanked the partners and urged students to use the laptops properly.

“With every opportunity comes responsibility. It’s not about playing with paper notes; they are about education, entertainment and creation. So Learn and create.”

He also called upon people to adapt to technology since the government is willing to provide facilities.

“The government has heavily invested in ICT infrastructure. 4G LTE internet covers 14 districts with the aim of covering 95% by 2017. We don’t want to leave anyone behind, broadband is not for the city dwellers, the well-off or the educated only. It is for everyone, hence the name “viziyo” or vision,” he said.

“Analog education is more expensive than digital education. Digital or smart education is not only of high quality but also much more cost-effective”, he ended.

To get the laptops, students fill loan forms from Bank of Kigali and get the computers at MTN Service Centres.

The laptops are offered on loan and will be paid in installments, paying Rwf17,288 per month for a period of three to eighteen months.

The laptops are equipped with free Microsoft windows 8.1 upgradeable to windows 10, free Microsoft office license for 3 years and 3GB modem and MTN 1GB monthly data bundle for a whole year.

During the event, the government signed a memorandum of understanding with MTN Rwanda and Bank of Kigali for partnership in this initiative.

Viziyo initiative has started from higher learning institutions to facilitate students and teachers have with laptops as a learning tool but will also reach out to public and private sector institutions, youth and women cooperatives among others.

Through this initiative, beneficiaries will buy devices like computers, smart TVs, tablets and smart phones.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw