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Rwandan President launches One Laptop per Child

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  • Esther Nasikye
    Kagame launches One Laptop per Child Thursday, 2nd October 2008 NYARUGENGE - President Paul Kagame has said that enabling all primary school children to own
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 2, 2008
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      Kagame launches One Laptop per Child
      Thursday, 2nd October 2008

      NYARUGENGE - 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 at Jali Club yesterday.

      "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, 5000 more
      were distributed in three districts and more are yet to come as
      government gets ready to purchase 50,000 laptops early next year.

      OLPC can significantly improve education, as well as the country's
      economy, among others. The impact of the open source-based laptops
      extends beyond the benefits associated with education and
      connectivity.

      More to that, it is environmentally friendly, consumes significantly
      less power than other commercial laptops and contains no hazardous
      materials. Apart from increased access, the President emphasized that
      the next step will be addressing issues of quality.

      "That is why all sections of our society should participate in this
      effort."

      "We pledge more resources to roll out this programme nation-wide," he
      said, noting that government commitment extended beyond the programme.

      Kagame underscored that the business community can make considerable
      contribution by investing in available opportunities in the area and
      urged parents to provide a more conducive home environment for
      learning.

      "We are all partners in making this programme a success," he said,
      emphasizing his commitment to its accomplishment.

      "We challenge ourselves, the Rwandan stakeholders, to work diligently
      to render this initiative a resounding success."

      Negroponte pointed out that it was a very special day, not just
      because they were launching in Rwanda but because the country had
      been "a real inspiration case – so supportive."

      "Today is the launch of an idea, the launch of a reality," Negroponte
      said, pointing out the five principles under which the initiative
      operates – child ownership, low ages, saturation, connection and free
      and open source. He put emphasis on child ownership as being
      important to the whole family setting.

      "Usually, children are objects of change," he said, and stressed the
      significance of saturation and connectivity, among others.

      "The third thing which we do, and Rwanda is doing perfectly, is
      saturation, because children can be the best teachers," he said.

      "Our commitment in Rwanda is absolutely unmatched, to be honest with
      you, in any country. We will give you other laptops; this is just the
      beginning," he promised.

      http://www.newtimes.co.rw/index.php?issue=13671&article=9940
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