Head teachers questioned over missing computers

Students during a lesson at Lycée de Kigali last year. File

Head teachers from various schools across the country have been tasked to explain how some computers that were distributed by government went missing.

The Government has spent a staggering Rwf23 billion on the distribution of ICT equipment in schools, including computers, projectors, and installation of internet in recent years.

Government has distributed a combined 69,982 computers to schools under the smart classroom initiative and the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project.

However, in 2018 alone, 100 computers were stolen from schools, according to Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB).

Overall, RIB said, 939 computers were stolen from schools.

The developments emerged yesterday when head teachers from 739 schools were being put to task by officials from Rwanda National Police, Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB), Rwanda Education Board (REB), and the Ministry of ICT to explain the theft.

Of the stolen computers, RIB said, 287 were stolen from Southern Province, 286 Northern Province, 234 Western Province, and 147 from the Eastern Province.

Schools in Kigali recorded the lowest rate of theft with 12 computers having been stolen.

According RIB, only were 83 computers were recovered.

Positivo laptops, which are distributed under the smart classroom initiative, were the main target.

Some 774 Positivo units were stolen, while 107 computers distributed under OLPC.  Upto 58 other types of laptops were also stolen.

“If we continue with this trend, in one year, all the computers given to schools will have been finished,” said Eugene Mutimura, the Minister for Education, while addressing the head teachers.

The Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of Operations, CP Felix Namuhoranyi, said there was negligence among some school administrators, which encourages theft.

Police also suspects that some staff members connive with thieves.

Namuhoranyi cited Groupe Scolaire Inyemezamihigo in Rubavu District where robbers broke into the store and stole 31 computers having been able to unlock the codes that were holding them on the tables.

“Only two people knew the codes, and we arrested them,” he said.

Marie Jean Kaduhoze, the head teacher of Groupe Scolaire Inyemeramihigo, in an interview with media, said that they had tried to devise measures to protect the computers.

Some of the measures, he said, including hiring professional security guards, installing metallic doors, and locking with two padlocks. But still theft occurred when thieves broke a window, he said.

Jean Damascene Nsengimana, the in charge of education in Gicumbi District, put blame on negligence of guards in some cases. He gave an example of Groupe Scolaire Ruhondo, in Gicumbi where 12 computers were stolen when thieves broke into the store at night and only for yhe guards to realise it in the morning.

Jackline Umurerwa, the head teacher of  Camp Kanombe in Kigali, requested the Government to advocate for schools so that security companies can reduce their fees.

“We need security, yet some schools don’t have adequate resources to afford security services,” she said.

Minister Mutimura said that some people had been punished due to negligence while others are being investigated by security agencies. He also noted that the ministry has put in place guidelines on the use of computers in schools, as well as engraved them for safety.