The government has plans to import up to 100,000 computers this year to boost the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) programme that was launched by President Paul Kagame last September.
This was revealed yesterday by Richard Niyonkuru, the coordinator of the OLPC programme, during a meeting that brought together different stake-holders in Kigali City to devise ways of extending the project to private schools in the City.
“The ministry had planned to import only 10 000 laptops but the President, through the ministry for ICT, told us to order for 100 000,” said Niyonkuru at the meeting that took place at Nyarugenge District headquarters.
According to Niyonkuru, the first consignment which is expected between April and May will be of 40 000 laptops while others which will come in two consignments of 30 000 will come in the subsequent months.
OLPC was launched to ensure that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is accessed by Rwandan children right from primary school.
The objective of yesterdays meeting was to devise ways through which the private schools could mobilise for funds to finance the programme in their respective institutions.
According the plan that was unveiled at this meeting, Kigali City has set a target of having distributed laptops to private primary schools by May this year.
The city target was revealed by the vice mayor in charge of welfare in Kigali City Jeanne d’ Arc Gakuba, who underscored that the programme was going to be an important asset that will make Rwandan graduates competitive on the international labour market.
“We are in a fast moving world and we should not be left behind, Rwanda has moved a step ahead in security and in sanitation, we now need to go a step ahead in Technology thereby creating a knowledge based economy which is among our Vision 2020 aspirations,” said Gakuba.
Niyonkuru said that the idea of the programme was conceived in 2004 but it took some time to come up with a durable child friendly computer which that would help enhance the quality of teaching and learning in secondary schools.
Gakuba said that one of the ways that private schools will use to acquire the computers will be through negotiating loans with their banks and thereafter, parents will have to pay the money on a long term basis.
“The government cannot sponsor this programme in private schools because it still has the public schools to cater for, but we cannot again leave behind our children in private schools as they have to move on the same level with others,” she said.
By the year 2012, at least 50 percent of primary schools in the country are supposed to have access to these computers.