In an effort to produce global citizens, Rwanda’s partnership with Microsoft will see a digital transformation in the education system starting in June.
Rwanda is making strides to bring the African nation’s education system into the 21st century by going digital with the aim of churning out global citizens.
Microsoft’s partnership with the government of Rwanda takes a four-pronged approach to the digital transformation with emphasis on empowering students, empowering teachers, improving institutions, and a focus on skills, according to Warren La Fleur, Microsoft’s regional education industry manager for West, East, Central Africa, and Indian Ocean Islands.
1) Empowering students means providing access and training with digital tools, practices, and technologies so students can actively participate in their own learning.
2) Empowering teachers means participation in “new innovative and immersive learning experiences for students that grab your attention and make students want to learn rather than reluctantly going into learning and acquiring knowledge.”
3) Institutions in Rwanda will also see an overhaul as part of the digital transformation that will make them “more productive and efficient using digital technologies.”
4) Focusing on skills will help stimulate relevant 21st century training that can support the economic emergency of a country like Rwanda.
One of the major challenges of Rwanda going digital; however, is connectivity.
As of December 31, 2014 only 25% of the population had access to Internet, and only 9% of schools in the country currently have access.
In the latest report on Internet connectivity and affordability in developing nations by the Affordability Drivers Index (ADI), Rwanda ranked 21st between Honduras (20th) and South Africa (22nd).
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The ADI report praised the government’s SMART RWANDA MASTER PLAN as a means of subsidizing bandwidth acquisition to rural communities that do not have access, in order to ensure affordable access to Internet services and wider penetration of ICT services for private and public institutions.
With the Microsoft partnership, connectivity is “expected to reach more than three million students and 61,000 teachers across the country’s 3,500 schools by 2020,” according to Rwanda’s education minister, Dr. Musafiri Papias Malimba.
The Rwanda Education Board (REB) is currently establishing 500 smart classrooms across the country and they could be fully connected by August 2017, according to Nkubito Bakuramutsa, Strategic Advisor on ICT in Education at the Ministry of Education.
“The idea is to ensure that Rwandan students become global citizens capable of working locally, on the continent, but also anywhere in the world,” said Bakuramutsa.