[ACCI-CAVIE] The Minister of ICT and Innovation, Paula Ingabire says about 3,000 schools that are not connected to the internet will have access to it by 2024 through financing from China Exim Bank and the World Bank.
Ingabire made the disclosure during a plenary session of the Chamber of Deputies in which she was providing answers to issues affecting the ICT sector.
Currently, she said, there are 6,756 schools, consisting of primary, secondary and TVET schools in the country. Of these schools, about 3,000 schools – equivalent to 44.4 per cent of the total – are not connected to the internet, she indicated.
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.”
“There are systems that schools use which require internet, such as SDMS [School Data Management System], and Teacher Management Information System (TMIS),” he said,
“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.
“By using the funds from the China Exim Bank, and those from the World Bank, she said, it was observed that about 3,000 schools that are not connected to the internet will have access to it by 2024,” she observed.
Another factor being considered, she said, is to provide electricity to schools that do not have it, including the use of solar energy where possible.
By Emmanuel Ntirenganya and LB