By Daniel Sabiiti
The ministry of education has embarked on plans to conduct paperless, digital exam by 2018. Secondary school students will answer their final exams on computers instead of the traditional paper-based model.
The first category was in 2015 when the City of Kigali launched free and paperless an online platform for real estate developers and the general public seeking construction permits with a digitally signature without queuing at city authorities.
This paperless agenda in schools is part of the new plan designed by Africa Smart Investment/Distribution (ASI-D) Rwanda and the ministry of education to have ‘Made in Rwanda’ Positivo BGH laptops distributed in schools to enhance the paperless economy agenda.
François Karenzi, the executive chairman of ASID Rwanda says that the move is intended towards providing solutions of having an ICT based economy.
“The government targets to go paperless by 2018 and our aim is to distribute a solution towards that. We plan to distribute 60,000 laptops through the whole Secondary school programme, and so far we have already distributed 6000 in less than a month.
The first rollout out phase is 256 schools but we will start with 198 schools by the end January 2017. Karenzi says that by 2018 they will have reached at least 800 schools considering the rate at which the laptops are being purchased and mobilization done at school levels to acquire the machines.
So far Africa Smart Investments Distribution (ASI-D), has launched various ICT projects meant to increase the distribution of ‘Made in Rwanda’ Positivo laptops, which include the Smart Teacher Initiative- in which 400 teachers have received laptops out of the targeted 20.000 teachers eligible for loans under the Sacco programme.
“We are very hopeful that the target of having a paperless economy will be met especially that we shall have covered more than half of the schools across the country” Karenzi said.
Rwanda is ranked as the country with the most affordable Internet in least developed countries for the second successive year according to the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4I) report this year.
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.
The 2015 education statistical yearbook shows that the number of computer per users Secondary school shows that a total of 24,184 exist in schools and are used by 571,580 which makes a ratio of 24 per computer nationally.
The national level the ratio is 28 students per computer, while the ratio stands at 11 for teaching staff and at 2 for administrative staff. The analysis shows that the Eastern Province has the highest number of students per computer (33:1) while Kigali City has the lowest (19:1)
While internet access remains a problem, some teachers who have enrolled in this program, there is hope of being able to catch up with the program to improve the education system.
Positivo laptops are however different from those distributed in primary schools under the one laptop per child programme for the last seven years.
They are loaded with W10 Pro&Office365, engraved with school syllabus and applications to enable students do their homework and teachers will be able to monitor the progress of the student’s homework, according to ASI-D Rwanda.
The payments have also been made easy and parents will be able to deposit Rwf15.000 as initial payment for the purchase which will have three different types of installment payments terms ranging from three to twenty five months.
The laptops cost about Rwf219, 000 for those who wish to pay a full amount upfront, however with the installment payments will cost Rwf257, 000 in total, which is relatively lower compared to the open market prices which go to over Rwf250, 000 for imported HP or Lenovo brands.
The student’s computer loaning programme is one of the solutions to lack of access to ICT facilities among some schools and institutions and this is expected to drive Rwanda towards its goal of becoming a regional ICT hub.
”The laptops loan has enabled me to do school work with ease while at my part time jobs. The only challenge is access to wireless internet which is not everywhere” one varsity student Emmanuel Maniragaba told Rwanda Eye.
This programme comes at an appropriate time to boost the One Laptop per Child Programmme -a project initiated in in 2008 with an aim to enhance education in primary schools and managed to distribute a total of 269,116 laptops in 933 schools.