Education ministry faulted for low internet penetration in schools

Minister for Education Eugene Mutimura (second left) and other officials appear before the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee yesterday. The officials have been faulted by parliament for failure to promote ICT in schools, especially given the low levels of internet penetration in schools, which, according to lawmakers, makes the learning process hard. Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti.

Officials from the ministry of education have been faulted by parliament for failure to promote ICT in schools, especially given the low levels of internet penetration in schools, which they say makes the learning process hard.

Officials from the ministry and its affiliated institutions were on Saturday appearing before parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on the progress made from recommendations made by the Auditor General’s 2014/2015 and 2015/2016 reports.

PAC members disclosed their analysis of the Auditor General’s report as well as subsequent visits in schools revealed that most of computers lie idle while others are damaged.

The MPs say that the limited access o ICTs in schools was affecting the quality of education.

The MPs also said that the ministry has made little progress in recovering computers that were stolen from schools.

Despite the government’s initiative to promote ICT, MPs said, the education sector has been slow adopting ICT, hence affecting the learning and research process, MPs said.

“We analysed the Auditor General’s reports and did visit tours in schools, some computers lie idle, others were damaged and have not been replaced while others have been stolen,” said MP Jeanne d’Arc Muhawenimana.

She added that such mismanagement of assets that cost the government a fortune of taxpayer money was PAC’s concern, stressing that those responsible should be held accountable.

The government, through the ministry of education invested a lot in promoting ICT through what is known as ‘Smart Class rooms,” where schools have at least two class rooms equipped with computers, internet and a projector.

This, according to the ministry aims at enabling learners acquires ICT skills.

So far, over 78,000 computers have been distributed in some schools, according to the ministry of education.

About 2,800 schools are connected with internet and teachers have been trained, according to the Ministry of Education, Eugene Mutimura.

He said that over 30 per cent of primary schools deploy ICT in teaching while in secondary schools the percentage is 53.

Over 1,000 laptops including the primary schools designed under the One Laptop per Child were stolen, with only 470 having been recovered, according to official statistics.

“However, some teachers told us that they don’t have ability to teach ICT related courses and to browse the internet. At a certain school, there is only one teacher who is trained while others have little ICT training, what is being done to bridge those gaps” Muhawenimana wondered.

The Chairman of PAC, MP Jean-Chrysostome Ngabitsinze, said that the lack of coordination between the ministry, its affiliated institutions and schools was responsible for the low uptake of ICT.

Primary school pupils using computers. File.

“There is lack of effectiveness and efficiency, the issues we are raising have been standing for years and we are lying to people that our schools are teaching ICT, we should resist fear and favour and hold those responsible to account,” he said.

According to Mutimura, despite the challenges progress has been made.

“There is really a gap in teaching ICT if you look at schools we have so far, we are working hard to bridge that gap by training more teachers,” he said.

 On the issuer of internet, Irénée Ndayambaje, the Director General of Rwanda Education REB said that schools are grappling high cost of interment.

The cost of internet per month per school is Rwf120, 000, he said, adding that with public schools required to offer free education, they can’t afford internet cost.

Samuel Mulindwa, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Education, the cost of internet in schools is estimated at Rwf3 billion per annum.

“We want the internet cost be reduced by at least 70 per cent and we hope providers cannot count losses as we are a big client,” he added.

He also said that the recently Icyerekezo satellite that was launched by One Web to connect schools in remote areas to the internet will drive faster and cheaper internet connectivity in schools.