EDITORIAL: The dream of digital education continues to garner strength

An artistic impression of a smart classroom with laptops. Courtesy.

When the One-Laptop-per-Child was introduced 10 years ago, one could forgive themselves for thinking that the Government was over-reaching itself.

The mere thought that every child in the country could one day own a laptop at the Governments’ expense was more of a utopic dream than a reality. But a decade down the road and over 275,000 laptops have been distributed in more than 1,500 schools, a mighty feat, one should say.

The programme did not come without major challenges the most glaring one being that many schools in rural areas were not connected on the national grid. Those that did had problems of having enough charging ports and the power bill kept skyrocketing

Another one was that many teachers were not computer literate and needed prior training. But many of those challenges have been addressed gradually; many schools now are connected to the national grid or on solar power and some enterprising brain has come up with a charging cabinet that can charge up to 60 laptops at once.

So, this week, during the International Teachers’ Day, it was revealed that 400 teachers would be receiving free laptops every year, but the numbers could increase once financial capabilities increase. That does not mean that all the 60,000-plus teachers will receive the laptops as some already own theirs or can be facilitated in acquiring them; the logic here is for every teacher to be ICT ready.

 All this is in line with the Smart Classroom concept where traditional blackboards will be replaced by digital boards that will be able to communicate with the teachers’ and students’ laptops.

It is another home-grown solution that definitely Rwanda Cooperation Initiative (RCI) will add to its portfolio, together with Umuganda, One-Cow-Per-Poor-Family, Ubudehe, Mutuelle de Sante, National Dialogue and many other programmes that have played a key role in the country’s development.

(RCI is a new government body that is charged with marketing and commercialising the many homegrown solutions that have earned the admiration of many countries who flock here to garner some lessons).

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