It was all stories, games and animations as the Rwanda Education Board (REB) hosted its third International Scratch Day at the Kigali Library Services yesterday.
Pupils from primary four to six and various educators in the country joined an international network of other learners, teachers and enthusiasts who use the Scratch programming platform.
Scratch Day is a global network of events that celebrates Scratch, and the young people who code and create with it. During Scratch Day, kids and adults gather to share projects and learn from one another.
Supported by their school heads, the students and teachers had the opportunity to share their Scratch creations and to collaborate with other Scratch users around the world, using the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) laptops.
Six primary school pupils, three girls and three boys proudly showcased their scratch programming projects using their laptops in the OLPC Corner located at the library.
Twelve-year-old Fiston Karekezi from Ecole Primaire Gitega in Nyarugenge presented a project called The Beauty of Rwanda, tourism hotspots and places to visit, while Christian Benijuru, a primary six pupil at EPAK presented an animation depicting two people holding a discussion about education in Rwanda.
On her part, 12-year-old Vanessa Giramata, a primary six pupil at Ecole Primaire Remera Catholique presented an animation depicting a student giving dance instructions to classmates.
Meanwhile, Esther Giramata from EP Kagina, and Lambert Semikeke from EP Intwali both presented projects about Rwanda’s Vision 2020.
Aldo Hirwa, a ten-year-old Primary 4 pupil from GS Kicukiro showcased an interactive Question and Answer Quiz on Science, Maths and English.
The day was an opportunity for learners to join the larger community of Scratch users and to exhibit the skills they have acquired through the use of the computers that were acquired through the OLPC programme in their respective schools.
“In providing such cutting edge learning opportunities to our students, we are confident that they will create the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators to launch the future of Rwanda as a technology hub for Eastern Africa,” said Eric Kimenyi, National Coordinator of the One Laptop Per Child Program, Rwanda Education Board.
Kimenyi explained that learning to code is essential to the development of critical thinking, logic, and problem solving skills among learners.
“Through partnerships with international organisations and events such as Scratch Day, Rwandan students are truly becoming global citizens at an early age. REB, in its continued relationship with OLPC, is creating the “XO Generation” of learners by encouraging student collaboration and the sharing of information,” Kimenyi further said.
Mariana Ludmila Cortes, the Vice President of the OLPC global association expressed optimism at the level of achievement of the young students, and commended efforts by government and REB in providing an innovative, quality education system that is inclusive for all students across the country.
“Through use of the OLPC laptops, these students will be prepared to fulfill the national vision to unfold a knowledge-based economy,” she said.
The Government of Rwanda, through the Ministry of Education, has been distributing OLPC laptops to primary school students in Rwanda since 2009.
The current laptop deployment currently stands at over 209,000 laptops in 448 schools across the country, according to Kimenyi.
He added that the figure is set to increase soon, with the ICT in education master plan being designed to include more schools.