The role of One Laptop Per Child program in enhancing education

On 27 January 2020 at 03:43

In June 2008, the government of Rwanda initiated the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project to help children in primary schools across Rwanda develop creative technology skills and competencies. It has been 11 years now since the launch of the program which has remarkably contributed to enhance pupils learning and truly revolutionized education.

Rwanda Education Board (REB) reported that so far 274,073 XO laptops have been distributed. There are also 1578 laptops in stock waiting to be distributed.

REB did not publish specific numbers for the number of laptops which were damaged since the start of the program but in the past, schools reported that some laptops had technical issues and were returned to be repaired while others were stolen.

In 2019, Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) reported that 939 laptops which were distributed in schools across the country were stolen in 2018 including 774 Positivo, 107 XO which were given as part of the OLPC program as well as 58 other laptops of different brands.

In March 2018, 2667 laptops were reported stolen but 973 were recovered.
Dr. Ndayambaje Irénée, the Director General of REB told IGIHE that the laptops increased the engagement and productivity of young pupils in lessons in their classrooms.

“Through the use of technology, teachers have access to more innovative and improved teaching methods that allow them to promote learning and create an active learning environment for children. In the future, we are planning competitions where pupils will demonstrate the skills they have acquired through various projects.”

Dr. Ndayambaje said that the OLPC program came in handy for instruction, documentation, assessment and communication support enabling a more effective teaching environment.

To assess the effectiveness of the OLPC program, IGIHE visited APPEK Kamuhoza Primary School in Nyarugenge district where 120 laptops were distributed. In the school’s computer lab, the pupils were learning to use Microsoft Excel for creating spreadsheets, calculations, graphing tools and pivot tables.

Hitimana Moise, a form five pupil said that he started learning using a computer a year ago and that he has acquired many skills including using Microsoft Word and all its features.

His classmate, Utamuriza Kenia also said that since she started using a computer in class, she has acquired technical skills that will be useful in her studies.

Kantetere Perusie, a teacher at APPEK Kamuhoza Primary school said that the OLPC program changed education from the traditional chalk and black board method to a more interactive and responsive way.

“The OLPC program encourages children to be creative and develop important abilities such as critical thinking, problem-solving and logic.”

Kantetere said that despite the benefits of the program, there still are issues of poor internet connectivity which impede learning.

Rusanganwa Fidele, APPEK Kamuhoza Director said that apart from acquiring computer skills, the OLPC program allows pupils to cultivate their own interests and gives them ownership in their learning. The pupils are also capable of conducting research and gain knowledge beyond what the teacher gives out.

To allow teachers to keep up with technology trends, REB plans on introducing a monthly training program where teachers will be equipped with skills aligning with current technology advances and be able to apply them in the classroom.