Smart Classrooms Across Africa

Kenya leads the continent in the integration of tech in education, while Rwanda sets its sights on smart classrooms for all public schools by 2020.

Rwanda’s Ministry of Education has challenged secondary schools to fast-track a new model of smart classroom in a fresh bid to raise the quality of education, The New Times reports.

The initiative, which seeks to equip schools with computers, Internet access and projectors, is premised on the belief that ICT is a tool which will transform the country’s education system through the digitalisation of academic material which will subsequently increase access.

The Minister for Education, Eugène Mutimura, recently said in a tweet that the government had identified 166 schools to potentially take the lead in the implementation of the smart classroom project.

The government has been encouraging schools to identify secure rooms where they can install computers and other ICT-related infrastructure.

Under the project, the government plans to distribute 100 computers in each of 1,500 schools.

Irénée Ndayambaje, the Director General of Rwanda Education Board (REB), told The New Times on September 14th that so far, 692 schools out of the 1,500 targeted have smart classrooms.

“The remaining schools are yet to get either access to electricity and or do not have free rooms that can serve the purpose,” he said. However, the government is optimistic that by 2020, all public schools will be equipped with smart classrooms.

Interactive and multi-media based courses will enable students to learn independently and help teachers prepare lessons using a wider range of resources.

The government has already distributed POSITIVO Laptops – which have Microsoft Word and Windows installed, and allow teachers and students to surf the Internet and access different content that comes with the laptops – to more than 500 schools across the country, in addition to more than 250,000 XO Laptops to more than 1,500 primary schools.

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“Africa is inherently a problem-solving part of the world.” Image: CC 2009

East Africa is leading Africa in terms of integration of technology in education, Kenya’s Capital FM reported earlier this year.

Kenya is leading the pack, followed by Rwanda, according to Warren Fleur, Microsoft’s Regional Manager, Education Industry sub-Saharan Africa.

“It is a mixed bag where we are seeing substantial innovations in some parts of the continent while other places are seen to be lagging behind,” he said.

“In Kenya with the digital literacy learning programme, we are seeing not just technology being used in the classroom, but also more broadly where there are programmes to support and sustain such innovations to make them more meaningful. These include activities such as modernising the curriculum, teacher training on the application of the programme or introducing digital content.”

There are currently about 40 Microsoft Showcase Schools around the continent, and about seven in Kenya, according to Fleur. These are spaces where technology is used to support innovative approaches towards learning: new teaching practices, new ways of using content and new ways of collaborating with other schools around the world.

“We cannot begin to imagine what the class of 2030 will be doing in terms of technology or the kind of jobs they will have created. This is why we need to encourage them to integrate technology into their education,” said Fleur.

“Africa is inherently a problem-solving part of the world and the modern student is the one looking for a solution using technology.”

In West Africa, the Nigerian government in August began moves to establish a digital education institute and provide smart learning classrooms across the country as a way of boosting investments in ICT, reported Vanguard.

The Smart Classrooms and Digital Education initiative will be implemented in partnership with Chinese tech giant NetDragon Websoft and is in line with the government’s commitment to provide quality education as stipulated in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The pilot phase of the project will see the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs in Abuja collaborate with NetDragon to provide a smart classroom to the Pilot Science Primary School, also in Abuja.

With the initiative, the government aims to provide high-quality digital education resources and a new teaching and collaboration model for basic education in Nigeria.

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Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

Africa – Growing Investment in Tech Startups
Economic, Financial and Technical series
Vol. 55, Issue 7

Kenya: Investment Opportunities
Economic, Financial and Technical series
Vol. 55, Issue 6

Uganda: World Bank Economic Update
Economic, Financial and Technical series
Vol. 55, Issue 5

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