Rwanda Launches One Laptop Per Child Programme


President Paul Kagame has said that enabling all primary school children to own computers was the government's ultimate goal. This was during the official launch of the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) initiative.

"Our goal is to continue finding means and ways to provide all primary school children in Rwanda with this important learning tool," Kagame said, adding that various schemes, including encouraging parents to participate in buying computers for their children, would be used.

"We are going to turn the dream of all our children owning computers into reality - it is possible to achieve this," he said, amidst applause, calling on the vast gathering to reflect on the meaning of the exercise and the other numerous achievements in the education sector.

Kagame reminded the assembly of the increased primary school enrolment from 900,000 to well over 2,000,000 in the past 14 years, in addition to the implementation of Universal Primary Education (UPE) since 2003. "We have also recently extended tuition-free status to the first three years of secondary school, making education a nine-year tuition-free arrangement," he added.

Earlier, the President expressed gratitude to Professor Nicholas Negroponte, the OLPC Founder and Chairman, and his team. "Bringing durable, affordable and innovative computers to children worldwide is not only admirable but highly relevant and we congratulate you and your colleagues," he said.

"It is embedded in our development strategy of using ICT as an enabler of other sectors, including learning, as well as building a dynamic information technology industry," the President said.

The programme has been going on for sometime since government formed [a year and half ago] a partnership with OLPC to supply laptops to primary school children over a five-year period.

Some 100 laptops were provided last year, and last month, 5, 000 more were distributed in three districts and more are yet to come as government gets ready to purchase 50,000 laptops early next year. "We pledge more resources to roll out this programme nation-wide," he said, noting that government commitment extended beyond the programme.

The New Times