In an effort to improve access to education and information, Rwanda is working to connect 3,000 schools to the internet by 2024. The project is being financed by the China Exim Bank and the World Bank. Paula Ingabire, Minister of ICT and Innovation, said that the project will help to improve the quality of education in Rwanda by giving students and teachers access to a wealth of resources that were previously unavailable. Additionally, he said that the project will help to create jobs and spur economic growth.
During a plenary session of the Chamber of Deputies last week, Ingabire made a disclosure regarding the ICT sector. In his disclosure, he addressed various issues affecting the ICT sector, including its potential for growth and development. He also spoke about the need for increased investment in the sector in order to ensure its continued success.
Jean-Bosco Munyembabazi, a Head Teacher of Nemba primary school in Gakenke district, told The New Times that it is one of the schools that do not have access to the internet. He said the internet is needed, expressing that “living without it is a sort of isolation, like living in an area where one has no access to a road.”
Munyembabazi said that the internet can be used to help with the school’s administration, and also to help with the students’ studies. He said that the students need to be able to use the internet to do research, and to access online resources.
There are multiple systems that schools use which require internet access, such as the School Data Management System (SDMS) and the Teacher Management Information System (TMIS). According to one school administrator, these systems are essential for managing school data and teacher information, respectively. Without internet access, schools would struggle to keep track of important information and effectively manage their operations.
“Also, the Rwanda Education Board (REB) puts textbooks online, and it requires that we get them, but we do not have the internet to do that. So, you understand that accessing such teaching aids is another challenge and we are still waiting for it to be addressed,” he pointed out.
Still, he said that the internet can also help pupils to do basic research online, which can help improve their learning.
Going forward, Ingabire said that the Government has a plan to connect all the remaining schools to the internet under the Smart Education Project.
“We have Smart Education Project, through the $30 million financing we got from China Exim Bank, under which we will connect at least 1,500 schools,” she said, indicating that the project has started, such that the 1,500 schools will be connected to the internet from this year (2023) to the next year (2024).
Also, she said that there is a $200 million project– the Rwanda Digital Acceleration Project – funded by the World Bank, which will be implemented within five years, indicating that the large part of that funding was allocated to infrastructure “for the last mile connectivity, including internet access for schools”.
Overall, the objectives of the World Bank financed project are to increase access to broadband, digital public services, and strengthen the digital innovation ecosystem.
Speaking at an event, the Minister said that the government was working on expanding internet access to schools in the country. She said that the funds from the China Exim Bank and the World Bank would be used to provide internet access to 3000 schools by 2024. She also said that the government was working on providing electricity to schools that did not have it, and that solar energy would be used where possible.