East African freelancer Nick Wadhams and Czech journalist Tomas Lindner (from Respekt) both visited Kagugu Primary School in Kigali this month, while in the country covering the recent presidential elections.
Wadhams reported briefly on his visit to Kagugu for a short radio segment for NPR’s All Things Considered. He gets soundbites from a student and the project coordinator, and notes some of the worries teachers and parents have. He finds a classroom dark and dirty, and asks somewhat glibly “do poor kids really need laptops?”
Meanwhile Lindner wrote a subtle review of Rwanda’s development as a technological nation, for the German magazine Tagesspiegel. He visits Kagugu with this in mind, considering the place of technology in schools as part of Kagame’s national Vision 2020 plan. He interviews school director Edward Nizeymana, and visits a biology class to see how they learn together with XOs. They discuss the rapid growth of school attendance, changing motivations and long-term goals of the students, and the challenges teachers face adjusting to new technology and to English as a new language of instruction. Nizeymana says, responding to questions about whether Rwanda should invest in this way in primary education:
“The critics say that the government should first invest in drinking water or electricity. But that will not do. The world is not waiting… we have to run, do many things simultaneously. We can not let modern technologies wait until everyone has clean water at home. “
Lindner closes with a note about Internet access in Rwanda: connection to the rest of the world is slow, despite great optical connections within the country. He sees incentives and structures in place for excellent growth, as with the economy, still waiting on the final loops to be closed.
As with all short news pieces, I hope these journalists will find ways to follow up in the coming years.