In a statement issued on Tuesday, the government said the programme, called Schoolnet, had the support of the World Bank and USAID. It is being implemented by World Links, an international NGO specialising in providing computers and training in secondary schools in developing countries.
President Paul Kagame launched the initial phase of Schoolnet on Tuesday at the Groupe Scolaire de Notre Dame du Bon Conseil in Byumba Province.
During the launch, Kagame urged all Rwandans to take time to learn how to use computers and the Internet. He said there was a vast wealth of information available to the business community, farmers and other professions on the Internet which could enable them increase productivity.
Kagame said his government would do its part by providing the infrastructure needed to enable Rwandans to use computers and the Internet. He said choices needed to be made if development and prosperity were to be realised in Rwanda, adding that Rwandans should make the choice about whether they wanted to develop the country and improve their welfare by, among other things, developing their knowledge base by computer and Internet use.
According to the government statement, "Schoolnet is in line with both the government's ICT [international communications technology] strategy and the Vision 2020, which place emphasis on developing Rwanda into a knowledge-based economy. World Links recognises that technology has the power to radically change lives and develop local and national economies. It aims to improve educational outcomes, economic opportunities and communication among the youth across the globe using the Internet."
Thirteen schools in the country - one in each province and two in Byumba - have benefited from Schoolnet. Each of the 13 schools has a computer laboratory with 16 computers and printers.
The statement quoted Samuel Carlson, the executive director of World Links, as saying Schoolnet would be extended to 11 more secondary schools across the country within the next six months. "World Links will also soon launch a programme to provide one computer in every primary school in Rwanda that has access to electricity," Carlson said.
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