Primary school computer labs lie mostly unused

Primary Schools are yet to fully exploit ICT facilities at their disposal to help enhance digital literacy among pupils, officials have said.

They also faulted schools for failing to promote learning that’s in line with the new competency-based curriculum since they do not leverage ICT tools.

This was observed during the ongoing Quality Education Enhancement Awareness Campaign, in Gakenke District, on Thursday.

The officials used the opportunity to interact with primary school learners.

At GS Nganzo I school in Gakenke Sector, officials established that the school’s ICT lab had only been used once since the school term began, with pupils unable to demonstrate even basic understanding of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) units in the lab. 

Eric Kimenyi, the national coordinator of OLPC programme, told The New Times that it was unacceptable that ICT labs lay idle yet they are a key component in the implementation of the competency-based curriculum.

“OLPC is incorporated in the new curriculum as a unit under Science and Elementary Technology (SET) subject,” he said, adding that the newly rolled out curriculum allocates more time to computer lessons.

It was telling that the pupils we spoke to were not even able to name the basic parts of a computer let alone exploring it at a basic level, he said.

Thomas Kuradusenge, the head teacher of GS Nganzo I school, admitted that the school continues to use the old curriculum.

The old curriculum does not allocate as much time to computer lessons, he said. “For instance, in P5 the timetable is crowded with other subjects and its difficult to squeeze in a computer lesson.”

His school and many others are still using the old curriculum, which dedicates only one hour a week for ICT courses. 

On the contrary, the new curriculum provides for five hours in a week for computer lessons, according to Kimenyi. 

“Schools have a duty to implement the new curriculum,” he said. “It is unacceptable that guidelines provided for under the new curriculum are not being followed.”

Students are also not allowed to carry the OLPC gadgets home as was the case when the project was being piloted about 10 years ago.

Robert Twongyeirwe, the inspector of education at the Ministry of Education, said the ministry is doing all it can to ensure all teachers are trained on how to use computers distributed under the OLPC framework.

He said it was important for both teachers and students to learn how to operate the computers for optimal output.

The OLPC programme was launched by President Paul Kagame back in 2008 in a bid to afford Rwandan pupils access to technology.

More than 1,523 schools countrywide have since received the OLPC computers, with some 275,000 units having been distributed.


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