Gov’t orders more 100.000 laptops worth US$18.1m
Rwanda is set to become home to the pilot learning centre for the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project in Africa due to its outstanding progress in promoting the child user friendly computer on the continent.
The centre to be located at the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) to be known as the OLPC Learning Centre will be launched on June 9 and it is aimed at supporting Rwanda achieve its objectives of promoting ICT in Education but also act as a reach out centre for the whole of Africa.
“Most countries in Africa and Latin America have started this programme of OLPC and the OLPC Group has agreed to start a learning centre to support the use of these computers in every continent,” explained Richard Niyonkuru, the OLPC Coordinator at the Ministry of Education.
“Rwanda was chosen on the African continent for its outstanding progress in the OLPC programmes and government’s commitment to integrate the use of ICT in the 9 year basic education,” said Niyonkuru in an interview with The New Times.
Rwanda, ahead of the launch of the learning centre is also set to receive the 60 pioneer OLPC Corps, a group of students from different US Universities who have volunteered to teach children how the laptops are used.
“The 60 Corps will be inducted in Rwanda to support the OLPC Project as their first stop but at a later stage a team of two volunteers will be dispatched to different African countries with 100 pieces to support OLPC activities,” noted Niyonkuru.
According to the State Minister of Education Theoneste Mutsindashyaka, Government has already ordered 100,000 units to be delivered in phases, worth about US $18.1m and the first shipment of 5,000 computers is expected in the country at the end of June while more 15,000 pieces will be shipped in by August.
“We really want to encourage parents to buy these low cost laptops for their children because they are vital implements in their children’s education, if they need to equip their children with the digital skills necessary in this era,” said Mutsindashyaka.
The laptops are acquired at a subsidised cost of $ 100 a piece and the aim is to have all primary-going pupils acquire one. According to Niyonkuru, the OLPC Association has also donated 10,000 more laptops to add to the already 10.000 laptops that have been distributed across the country.
“Our target is to have 70.000 laptops in circulation by 2012. Government has already paid 20 percent on the 100.000 units and a cabinet meeting has signed a letter of credit to secure the rest of the laptops,” said the Minister.
A group of Engineers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology who engineered the one laptop led by Nicholas Negroponte is also set to arrive in the country for the OLPC activities beginning on June 8 to 17.