Measuring Rwanda's progress on education technology integration

Jens Ischebeck

Rwanda is a small country in Eastern Africa, near but not a part of the Horn of Africa. In the 1990s it suffered from the effects of a civil war involving genocide, but like many countries following a war, it has holistically made attempts to recover.

One form Rwanda’s recovery manifests in is improving education for its people: President Paul Kagame has allocated about 20% of the national budget to education.

This, combined with Rwanda’s desire to modernize and improve in other areas, has resulted in its synergistic adoption of edtech such as online courses, even MOOC (massive open online courses).

Improvement of education system

The goal of the President’s plan is primarily to improve the education level of most citizens so they can get high-income jobs. If national outcomes are any indication this plan is working well, with Rwanda steadily on course to become a middle income country by 2020.

Part of the reason the government’s education efforts have been so effective is because of ICT, its plan for information and communications technology. This plan, together with the desire to increase accessibility of education, has resulted in a surge in the use of e-learning in Rwanda.

E-learning and online education

international development education technology growing in Rwanda online learningThe key benefit is that physical inaccessibility is not a large obstacle when communications technology is used to bridge the gap between prospective students and teachers.

This means many different areas of Rwanda can access e-learning, particularly m-learning, which makes use of ultra-portable devices such as tablets to deliver access to education to all areas of Rwanda.

Rwanda also benefits from East Africa as a whole becoming more tech-savvy. The M-Pesa service, which provides access to digital financial transactions in its origin country of Kenya and many others, is one example of Africa’s tech growth.

Thus, with its neighbors also enjoying technological growth, Rwanda is uniquely poised to take advantage of edtech, and is definitely doing so: online courses are available for a wide variety of purposes, with the variety of courses expanding alongside technology in Rwanda and Africa as a whole.

The University of Rwanda has in fact integrated an e-learning module into its supply, signalling that as time goes on, e-learning and m-learning will become a significant part of university education in Rwanda as well.

Currently, the largest roadblock to education in Rwanda is a lack of teacher training. Teachers are not exceptionally common in Rwanda, and teachers qualified to provide m-learning are not common even in certain high-income countries.

Benefits of e-learning market in Rwanda

This makes Rwanda an excellent choice for private education businesses, or individual teachers willing to learn the necessary skills. Educators who come to Rwanda are well-supported by the government, and those from first-world countries in particular bring skillsets that Rwanda needs in its time of educational growth.

international development education technology growing in Rwanda online learningDue to the online nature of edtech, some companies can even provide education services to Rwanda without much or any physical relocation. For example, a company that provides MOOCs in the US can take steps to do the same in Rwanda, which will ultimately benefit both company and country.

Even when not directly providing their own services to Rwanda and its citizens, educators can profit from providing necessary knowledge to educators in Rwanda. For example, a small business that helps manage exam results in the United Kingdom could potentially aid a Rwandan online school in learning to perform exam preparations.

And once again, it’s important to keep in mind that there is a huge student base in Rwanda. Online courses are increasingly able to reach citizens in the Rwandan frontier who previously had absolute no Internet access. This has naturally resulted in increasing demand for all manner of education-related services.

Future prospects of edtech in Rwanda

In other words, with Rwanda, we are looking at a country where m-learning is bridging the gap between citizens and paying jobs, and where edtech allows knowledge to cross continents and empower a growing country. And due to the government’s excellent support for online learning, educators interested in Rwanda are generally looking at a very, very good ROI.

Overall, Rwanda is doing very well for itself, particularly in education but also in areas such as health care, and edtech is a major stepping stone to improving life for many of Rwanda’s citizens, from the bottom up. Both for profit and for humanitarian reasons, online course providers and other education businesses would do well to look at their options in Rwanda.

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This post was originally published on Medium

For more information about this important and exciting educational market, visit Jens Ischebeck's apps-for-learning.com site. You can also contact him on Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter or Google+. Whether you are a student or teaching professional, we specialize in mobile education within Africa and will be pleased to help you with your enquiry.

Photo Credits: Graham Holliday ; Sarah Farhat / World Bank ; Rwanda Government.

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