Rwandan students to use phones for learning in schools

Saturday September 10 2016

Rwandan children learning using laptops. Now smartphones will be allowed in class. PHOTO | FILE

Rwandan children learning using laptops. Now smartphones will be allowed in class. PHOTO | FILE 

By LEONCE MUVUNYI

Students in primary and secondary level will access phones at school as tools of research to help them in their academic success.

The new three-year capacity development programme supported by the South Korean government is set to break barriers standing in Rwanda’s steady advancement in technological reforms.

The students will be allowed to carry electronic devices to the classrooms, such as laptops and smartphones, as long as they have installed a new technology – “Open Sources.”

Dr Celestin Ntivuguruzwa, the permanent secretary of ministry of education says that allowing phones, with open sources installed, students will be able to explore and extend their education boundaries in a restrictive way.

“The Korean government initiative fits into our government policy of having ICT literate people, phones will be allowed in class as a tool for education not for entertainment,” said Dr Ntivuguruzwa.

Phones have traditionally been taboo in Rwandan schools as it was in Korea, but for education purposes it was decided they be introduced in a restrictive way.

“We are working on this kind of technology, the restriction was put in place because teachers didn’t know how to use these devices and technology,” said Prof Jong-Dae Park of Pai Chai University of South Korea, the expert from Korea International Co-operative Agency.

Within open sources installed in every electronic device in the classroom, teachers will have the ability to monitor them, Prof Park noted.

Currently, in South Korea, students are allowed to carry their phones, with the applications installed to help teachers to lock them down and allow only specific operations like emergency calls or SMS.

Students benefit a lot with the programme like exploring online free tools; Geography students explore the gravitationally bound system of stars, interstellar gas, stellar remnants and dark matter through those open sources, said Prof Park.

“One of the components we have on our curriculum is how to use applications and smartphones in your class, how you design your courses, your contents, how to make it better” he noted.

Although the government has adopted the policy, it is not bound to offer tools to the students, which is going to be an added burden for the poor families.

Government has put in place cheaper ways for accessing the tools within Positivo BGH and One-laptop per child initiatives, said Dr Ntivuguruzwa.

“This programme backs the education policy that was adopted during the Cabinet meeting of April 27 and we want to have ICT literate people. This is a supportive programme,” Dr Ntivuguruzwa added.

Our education policy urges us to have digital class and teaching by means of digital content and we crave to have no shelves in classrooms by 2020, noted Dr Ntivuguruzwa.

National statistics indicate that 40 students share one computer in public schools, 16 per cent of primary schools are covered by the one-laptop-per-child programme, while only 6 per cent of primary and 18 per cent of secondary schools are connected to Internet.