New bid to scale up ICT in education

POSITIVO BGH, a Latin American multinational, which manufactures laptops, computers, tablets, and other electronic gadgets, is in the process of putting up a production plant in Kigali.
L-R: Education ministers Prof. Lwakabamba, Prof. Naana J. Opoku of  Ghana, & Jessica Alupo of Uganda; Minister of Civic Education & Youth of Republic of Congo, Anatole Makosso; & Angolan Secretary of State, Innovation in Higher Education, Maria da Silva Martins at the meeting in Kigali yesterday. The panel was moderated by HP regional VP Marketing, Jean-Pierre Le Calvez (back to camera). (T. Kisambira)
L-R: Education ministers Prof. Lwakabamba, Prof. Naana J. Opoku of Ghana, & Jessica Alupo of Uganda; Minister of Civic Education & Youth of Republic of Congo, Anatole Makosso; & Angolan Secretary of State, Innovation in Higher Education, Maria da Silva Martins at the meeting in Kigali yesterday. The panel was moderated by HP regional VP Marketing, Jean-Pierre Le Calvez (back to camera). (T. Kisambira)

POSITIVO BGH, a Latin American multinational, which manufactures laptops, computers, tablets, and other electronic gadgets, is in the process of putting up a production plant in Kigali.

Production is expected to commence by March next year following a deal between the government and the firm last week.

The deal also provides that the government will purchase about 150,000 units (computers) annually, most of them going toward the education sector.

POSITIVO’s partnership with the government is an example of the private-public partnership the government is trying to build for the education sector to fully utilise benefits presented by ICT.

POSITIVO BGH is one of the ICT firms participating in the ongoing three-day conference on innovation in education and ICT dubbed; “Innovation Africa 2014” that kicked off yesterday.

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Education minister Silas Lwakabamba speaks during the meeting at Serena Hotel.

The conference brings together ministers of ICT and education from 26 countries as well as leading ICT corporations such as Google, HP, IBM, Microsoft, Huawei, Oracle, Pearson and Samsung, among others.

Speaking to The New Times on the sidelines of the conference, Education minister Prof. Silas Lwakabamba, said a partnership between the private sector and the government to modernise education through uptake of the latest technology, would be a win-win situation for both parties.

The minister said the model of partnership between the public and private sector had been tested in some parts of the world and was effective in increasing access and quality of education from primary to university level.

“There are numerous areas where the private sector can come in, from infrastructure development to development of digital content to be used for training of teachers,” the minister said.

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One of the Exhibitor at the Innovation meeting in Serena Hotel.

He said private sector opportunities were not limited to multinationals alone, adding that there are opportunities that can be pursued by local businesses.

Currently, Rwanda is implementing the One-Laptop-Per-Child project with about 204,000 laptops distributed in 410 schools across the country, according to the minister.

However to increase access, the ministry will revise the model and adopt ‘Smart Classrooms’ (equipped with personal computers) which will be used by learners where distribution of laptops is not possible.

Vodacom Business Africa Managing director Douglas Craige said ICT should be viewed as a facilitation mechanism in the education sector, noting that it increases access and quality of education.

Speaking at the conference, the Minister for EAC affairs, Valentine Rubagwiza, said as a region there were efforts to work closely with the telecom operators to lower cost of use of technology.

Prof. Naana Jane Opoku, the Ghanaian Education minister, said technology uptake in the education sector would also help in the proper management of education resources.

She, however, noted that as countries embrace technology, it should be done through approaches which make room for training not only for students but teachers too.

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Participants attending the Innovation meeting. ( Photos by Timothy Kisambira)

Maria da Silva Martins, the secretary of state for innovation in higher education in Angola, said as the world was currently facing a decline in opportunities in the job market, technology in education would create an avenue through which students could learn skills that could be used in self employment.

“It is with technology that young people can learn skills that are probably not formally and create employment for themselves and others,” Martins said.

This is the fifth edition of Innovation Africa Summit. Previous summits were held in Morocco, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Botswana. The summit was conceived by AfricanBrains, a division of the international Brains Network Group dedicated to investing in education and technology through building public-private partnerships.

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