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Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Lagos State Government Recommend Resumption Of Academic Activities At Queens College

Queens College Yaba, Lagos
THE Lagos State Government has recommended that the pupils of the Queen’s College, Yaba, should resume for academic activities.

The Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris, stated this on Monday while giving an update on the outbreak of gastroenteritis in the school, noting that the school authorities in collaboration with the Parent-Teacher Association, Old Girls Association and the Federal Ministry of Education had successfully addressed identified areas of lapses by instituting control measures.

He said, “The control measures include decommissioning of the multiple contaminated water sources, deployment of a single water source with water treatment, renovation of the dining hall, decontamination of the hostels and overhauling of the sewage system and clearance of the septic tanks. Periodic testing and retesting of water sources will still go on in line with international best practices.

 “I am delighted to inform you that based on the results of the analysis of the latest water samples collected on Tuesday, April 11, 2017, all water delivery points have been certified to conform to official specifications and I hereby recommend to the school authorities resumption of students of Queen’s College, Yaba, Lagos.”

PUNCH Metro had reported that many pupils of the school were admitted in the sickbay after eating spaghetti and drinking water said to have been contaminated.

Two pupils – Vivian Osuiniyi and Bithia Itulua –  who were in Junior Secondary School two and three respectively, reportedly died as a result of the epidemic.

Idris, a few weeks later released a statement saying health records from the school’s sickbay indicated that a total of 1,222 pupils presented themselves at the school’s clinic on account of abdominal pain, fever, vomiting and diarrhoea.

The statement noted that 16 pupils were admitted to various hospitals. While two were confirmed died, one was on admission at the Intensive Care Unit of LASUTH.

Praise Sodipo, the pupil, who was admitted to the ICU, later died, bringing the number of deaths to three.

The health commissioner also recommended that the school be shut to allow health workers to trace and tackle the challenge.

Idris on Monday emphasised the need for the school authorities and appropriate federal agencies to supervise continuous screening, follow-up and monitoring of all pupils and staff of the school because of the “polymicrobial” nature of the outbreak.

The commissioner also revealed that four out of the 25 infected kitchen workers that were treated still harboured some bacteria, recommending that the four workers be made to undergo further treatment, be prevented from handling food and redeployed from the kitchen area.

He disclosed that since the outbreak of the disease in the school, 40 cases were admitted to various public and private hospitals in the state.

He added that 37 cases were discharged after full recovery while the remaining three were lost to the disease.

 The commissioner noted that though no new case of the disease had been reported since the last case was discharged on April 18, 2017, he warned that sporadic cases might still occur due to multi-microbial nature of the disease occurrence.

 He said the Queen’s College authorities and other proprietors of schools in the state must ensure strict compliance with personal and environmental hygiene.

Nigerian Student Governing Body NANS Condemn Arrest Of Kogi Students, Demands Their Release

 National Association of Nigerian Students
The National Secretariat  of the  National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has condemned in clear terms, what it described as the unjustifiable attack launched on peaceful protesting students in Lokoja, Kogi State in the early hours of yesterday.

A statement signed by the national president, NANS, Comrade Chinonso Obasi, GCNS,  said Kogi students and Nigerian students at large cannot and should not be made to suffer lingering disagreements between employers and their employees while their schools remained under lock and keys and the future they seek destroyed in their presence.

It would be recalled that the Kogi State Government had been unable to reopen all state owned Tertiary Institutions which were ordered closed six months ago by the governor of the state, Governor Yahaya Bello, due to unpaid salaries and arrears of staff of the affected institutions.

He said that the refusal of the Kogi State Governor to accede to the demands of the Academic Staff Union and all other affiliated unions is one of the strange expression of how deeply the Kogi State government resents education and staff welfare.
 
 He said, “Our parents are unbearably overstretched by this sheer insensitivity of the State government.

“To add salt to injury, the state government instead of pacifying the students chose to unleash on them an attack under the Almighty instruction of Governor Yahaya Bello.

“This amounts to a flagrant attack on our members for lawfully demanding the reopening of their campuses.

“The NANS leadership is very pained that our members were subjected to massive humiliation by combined security forces mobilised and acting under the instruction of the state governor.”

The NANS leadership demandd the unconditional release of those arrested by the police and reminded Governor Yahaya Bello of its unrelenting continuation of mass protests within and outside Kogi State until all tertiary institutions under lock and keys are reopened for academic resumption.

He stated, “We assure our members of our unflinching support and solidarity.

“No amount of intimidation can deter us.”

Academic Activities Resume At FUTO After Two Months Closure, Levies Students N12,500

Federal University Of Technology Owerri
AFTER over two months of closure of academic and non-academic activities at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Imo State, following the crisis which engulfed the institution, the management has announced the resumption of all education programmes.

FUTO students had on February 17, 2017, protested an alleged increments in school fees, course registrations, transport fare, Internet and hostel fees, among other things.

The peaceful protest was later hijacked, leading to the destruction of the Senate building of the university, the Information and Communication Technology Centre and an attack on a branch of Diamond Bank on the campus.

The institution, which was conducting its first semester examinations for the 2016 /2017 academic session, ordered the students to vacate the university and announced its indefinite closure.

However, the Registrar, John Nnabuihe, in a statement, announced the immediate suspension of the closure and the commencement of all academic programmes in the university.

Nnabuihe said that no undergraduate would be allowed access into the campus without proof that he or she has paid the sum of N12,500 as fee for damages incurred during the protest. The students are also required to sign an undertaking to be of good behaviour.

The registrar stated that the continuation of the abandoned examinations would begin three weeks from the date of resumption.

Kogi Students Protest Continued Closure Of The States Tertiary Institutions

Kogi State Students Protest
Students of Kogi state owned tertiary institutions  protested the continued closure of their schools on Monday. But men of the Kogi state command of the Nigeria Police and the Nigerian Army clamped down on them.

Three of the students (a female from Kogi Poly, Lokoja and two males from Kogi University, Anyigba) were arrested during the peaceful protest that took place at the NATACO junction of the Lokoja- Abuja highway.

The students operating under the “Re-open our School Movement” had mobilised themselves to the major roads as early as 7.15 am, expressing their readiness to return to school, chanting; “We want to go back to school”, ” we are not here for violence “.

The students also displayed placards with inscriptions like “We are tired of staying at home, 2015 and 2016 students have missed the first batch of NYSC mobilisation and please Re-open our institution”.

However as the students continued with the protest, blocking the highway, men of the police were drafted to the scene to maintain decorum.

But after sometime, men of the Nigerian Army allegedly molested the students by beating them with horse whip and sticks.

The students however reconvened planning to go on a procession before the police returned and arrested the trio.

The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), William Aya, who confirmed the arrest, said three people were arrested.

He said the students were dislodged because they were blocking a major highway that linked the north and the south; said the arrested people were being screened to ascertain their status whether they are truly students or not.

Aya said the authorities of the schools they claimed to have attended would be invited for proper identification.

Tertiary institutions have been closed since January 31, 2017 when the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the institutions called for strike over the negative effects of the ongoing staff screening exercise embarked upon by the state government.

Youth Web Group, Officially Launched UMB Ghana Tertiary Awards (GTA) 2017

UMB Ghana Tertiary Awards (GTA) 2017 Official Launch
Youth Web Group, organizers of the annual Ghana’s most prestigious tertiary student’s awards have officially launched UMB Ghana Tertiary Awards (GTA) 2017.

The awards scheme, which is in its fourth year was launched on the theme: “Mobilizing for Ghana’s Future the Role of Tertiary Students” at the Airport View Hotel in Accra on Saturday, 22nd April, 2017.

The Chief Executive Officer of Youth Web Group, Mr Richmond Amofa–Sarpong in his address called on the government to consider making tertiary education free as most of the current leaders enjoyed during their time.

“We are calling on the government to make sure that, as it were during their time and i know our government is a listening government so they will make tertiary education free as they had during their period,” he said.

Article 25(c) of the 1992 constitution of Ghana demands that higher education should equally be made accessible to all persons, on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular by progressive introduction of free education.

He hinted that, his outfit will embark on this campaign to ensure that tertiary education is made free.

“Nothing is impossible, I know it’s a long journey but this will be done and it will be a campaign that we will run,” he added.

The awards competition will highlight the best student personalities in the county and give tertiary students the chance to nominate and then vote for their favorites.

Mr. Richmond Amofa – Sarpong also stated that nominees must be students in our Tertiary Institutions, who have made a difference in their community by providing positive examples for their generation.He also added that the UMB Ghana Tertiary Awards 2017 Selection Committee (Academy) is interested in receiving nominations that focus on the Student’s individual achievements in the areas of education, social action, entertainment and positive change. Candidates should be considered for outstanding contributions to their school, community and/or Ghana for a project that the individual initiated, organized or contributed to significantly. Nominees must be students.

The Chief Executive Officer of Youth Web Ghana, Mr. Richmond Amofa – Sarpong concluded by giving the criteria for qualification into the UMB GHANA TERTIARY AWARDS 2017 by emphasizes that the “UMB Ghana Tertiary Awards 2017 entails a Student and African, a significant achievement holder, a change maker and one that demonstrate ethical and socially accepted principles. There is no academic qualification barrier, meaning any student in our Tertiary Institutions is eligible to apply for the UMB Ghana Tertiary Awards 2017. The completion of the nomination form will give us the opportunity to understand the student’s accomplishments, positive demeanor, and community involvement. This will be the core information used in the selection process”.

The Sponsors (UNIVERSAL MERCHANT BANK, MALTA GUINNESS, INDOMIE GHANA, MCVITIES GHANA, BLUE CREST COLLEGE, RWANDAIR, GH MEDIA SCHOOL, ACCRA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY, BOOM ENTERTAINMENT, AIRPORT VIEW HOTEL, DDP OUTDOOR LTD.,MARIE NOELLE AMERICAN BEAUTY ACADEMY ) of the Event used the platform to speak to the students gathered from all the 146 Tertiary Institutions across the Country on new packages which have been tailor made to suit the interest of all the 315,000 Ghanaian students.

The Categories are below:

· Top Most Award (2017 UMB GTA STUDENT OF THE YEAR)

· School of the Year

· Most Influential student in Agriculture

· Most Influential student Software Developer

· Most Influential student in Engineering

· Most Influential student Male Radio Presenter

· Most Influential student Female Radio Presenter

· Most Influential student Male Television Presenter

· Most Influential student Female Television Presenter

· Most Influential student Blogger/ Writer/Reporter

· Most Influential student Sports Personality

· Most Influential student Fashion Designer

( MALTA GUINNESS VITALITY AWARD)

· Most Influential student Female Model

· Most Influential student Male Model

· Most Influential student in Health Science

· Most Influential Physically Challenged Student

· Most Influential student in Film/Video Editor/Director

· Most Influential student in Music

( MALTA GUINNESS GOODNESS AWARD)

· Most Influential student Entrepreneur

( MALTA GUINNESS GO GETTER AWARD)

· Most Influential student Hall

(MALTA GUINNESS GALANT AWARD)

· Most Influential student Event of the Year

· Most Influential student Poet/Spoken Word Artiste

· Most Influential student Sound Engineer

· Most Influential student Foundation

· Most Influential student Comedian

· Most Influential student Event House

· Most Influential student DJ

( MALTA GUINNESS NOURISHING AWARD)

· Most Influential student Graphic Designer

· Most Influential SRC President

· Most Influential student Male MC

· Most Influential student Female MC

· Most Influential Tertiary Television Show

· Most Influential Tertiary Radio Show

· Most Influential student Beauty Queen

· Most Influential student Photographer

· Most Influential Foreign Student

· Most Influential Student Modeling Agency

· Most Influential Student Actor/Actress

· Kobi Rana Best Dancer/Dance Crew

President Buhari Approves New Boards Of Federal Polytechnics And Colleges Of Education

Mallam Adamu Adamu. Minister For Education
President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the reconstitution of the governing boards of the 21 federal colleges of education in the country. The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, made this known in a statement on Friday in Abuja.

According to him, the boards are statutorily responsible for the governance and overall policy formulation in the institutions concerned.

He stated that in making the appointments of the chairpersons and members of the respective boards, the president, apart from ensuring geopolitical spread, was also guided by the stipulated requirements for such appointments.

He noted that the requirements were in each of the Acts establishing the institutions, adding that appointees were required to, in addition to other requirements, be people of impeccable integrity, with reasonable commitment to teacher education.

The minister said the affected federal colleges of education and their respective chairmen are as follows: Abubakar Galadima; Federal College of Education, Oyo; F.G. Ibrahim, Federal College of Education, Asaba; and Saidu Isa, Federal College of Education, Osiele-Abeokuta.

Others are S.L. Abubakar, Federal College of Education, Kano; Lawan Bukar, Federal College of Education, Eha-Amufu; Sa’ad Abubakar, Federal College of Education, Okene; Hassan Al-Badawi, Federal College of Education (Technical), Gombe; and Aminu Mikailu, Federal College of Education (Technical), Omoku.

Also in the list are Aminu Gwarzo, Federal College of Education, Kontagora; Bello Lafiagi, Federal College of Education, Zaria; Ibrahim Garba, Federal College of Education, Pankshin; and Alex Hartt, Alvan Ikoku College of Education, Owerri.

Some others are Almona Ise, Federal College of Education, Yola; E.O. Adegbite, Federal College of Education (Technical), Potiskum; Iyabo Anisulowo, Federal College of Education (Technical), Gusau; and Iheneacho Obioma, Federal College of Education (Technical), Akoka.

Others are Danjuma Sulai; Federal College of Education, Katsina; Ibrahim Bello, Federal College of Education (Technical), Bichir; Anthony Obi, Federal College of Education, Obudu; N.C. Ohazurike, Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo; and Hassan Lawan, Federal College of Education, Umunze.

Mr. Adamu said that the new governing boards comprising chairmen and members of the federal colleges would be inaugurated on a date to be announced soon.

Mr. Adamu also disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the reconstitution of the governing boards of all the 25 federal polytechnics in the country.

He said the boards are statutorily responsible for the governance and overall policy formulation for the institutions concerned.

He said in making the appointments of the chairpersons and members of the respective boards, the President, apart from ensuring geopolitical spread, was also guided by the stipulated requirements for such appointments.

He said the appointment was in line with was contained in each of the Acts establishing various institutions.

He added that each of the appointees was required to, among others, possess a minimum of a National Diploma and be a person of impeccable integrity with a strong commitment to technical education.

According to him, the affected Polytechnics and their respective Chairmen are as follows: J.T. Orkar, Akanu Ibiam Federal Polytechnic Unwana, Afikpo; Michael Oloko, Auchi Polytechnic, Auchi; and Austin Adeze, Federal Polytechnic, Ado Ekiti.

Others are Yalwa Tahir, Federal Polytechnic, Bali; Abubakar Dantata, Federal Polytechnic, Bauchi; Muhammad Yakya, Federal Polytechnic, Bida; Mohammed Abubakar, Federal Polytechnic, Damaturu; and Nasir Yauri, Federal Polytechnic, Ede.

Also, Eddy Olanipekun, Federal Polytechnic, Ekowe; Ibrahim Liman Sifawa, Federal Polytechnic, Idah; Abubakar Sadauki, Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro; Odey Ochicha, Federal Polytechnic, Ile-Oluji and Kingsley Alagoa, Federal Polytechnic, Kaura Namoda.

He also appointed Bassey Usang Bassey as head Federal Polytechnic, Mubi; Godwin Sogolo, Federal Polytechnic, Nasarawa; Edwin Ogunbor, Federal Polytechnic, Nekede, Owerri; Osekula Zikora, Federal Polytechnic, Offa and Lasbury Amadi, Federal Polytechnic, Oko.

Others are Ucha Julius, Federal Polytechnic of Oil and Gas, Bonny; Ike Udabah, Federal Polytechnic, Ukana; Abayomi Daramola, Hussaini Adamu Federal Polytechnic, Kazaure; and Yusuf Hassan, Kaduna Polytechnic, Kaduna.

Also in the group are: David Adewunmi, National Institute of Construction Technology, Uromi; Ismail Biodun Layi Oni, Waziri Umaru Federal Polytechnic, Birnin-Kebbi; and Lateef Fagbemi, Yaba College of Technology, Yaba.

Mr. Adamu said that the new governing boards comprising the chairpersons and members of the polytechnics would to be inaugurated on a date to be announced soon. (NAN)

Form Six Student Of A Tanzania High School Invents Solar Powered Multitasking Human Robot

Gracious Ephraim Displays His Solar-Powered Robot
Arusha-based Ilboru High School's Form Six student Gracious Ephraim has created a solar energy powered human Robot that can walk, turn its head, speak and perform a number of tasks.

Gracious who pursues Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics (PCM) combination said he started working on the prototype multitasking human robot about 12 months ago, using locally available materials as well as simple memory chips for the 'brain' The components include an entire Geometrical Set (aluminum box and contents), some wires, tin containers, wire pieces of metal and other materials, all valued at about 200,000/- , which he raised from his own pocket money.

The Robot can bend down to pick two packages and move with the load balanced onto its either arms for a while before laying them down neatly on the ground some distance away through remote programming. Teachers at the school said the student was the only person in the country to build a robot which makes various movements and actually works.

"I am trying to innovate things that can solve problems because for many years, science students in the country did not want to invent, they were all focusing on getting employed but being a scientist is all about devising and making new things.

Tanzania aims at industrialization meaning that factories and other production lines must work 24 hours, but humans cannot work around the clock, so I envisage to have robots working at night and people during the day, this will also reduce the costs of paying workers overtime," he pointed out.

The student added that, using robots is all about ensuring high level of effectiveness, revealing that his own maiden robot does things better than some people because when programmed to deposit an item at a particular place it does so with accuracy.

Gracious loves to watch movies like any boy next door, except that his flicks are those about robots, 'Robocop,' and 'Transformers,' from where he gets additional inspiration.

Regarding his own Robot's capability to speak, Gracious said he had installed a memory card with recorded voice notes that can be remotely triggered to make the home-made machine reply to specific questions or even sing some songs.

The Head of Physics Department at Ilboru, Mr Pendaeli Daniel described Gracious as a standout student in the class.

"Always in time, and comes up with new things and ideas.We have written a special letter of introduction to enable him introduce his innovation to a number of factories and organizations, where he can learn more and find ways to innovate things to complement the robot operations," said the teacher

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Rwanda's Education System to Go Digital in June - Microsoft Official

A smart classroom and laboratory at Rweru model village
The 21st century labour market requires students to graduate from school when they are computer literate enough to find work while providing services demanded by current consumers. Achieving that goal requires digitizing the education system and Rwanda is doing just that, thanks to the country's partnership with the multinational technology company Microsoft. Warren La Fleur, Microsoft's regional education industry manager for West, East, Central Africa and Indian Ocean Islands, explains the concept in an exclusive interview with The New Times' Eugene Kwibuka.

Below are excerpts:

You are working as Microsoft's regional education industry manager for West, East, Central Africa and Indian Ocean Islands. Could you tell us what that entails?

Microsoft actually has a number of industries that we focus on within the public sector and one of those industries is education. Part of the work that we do is to help the education industry digitally transform.

So, our conversations with policy makers, teachers, faculty, and staff members is really about how they can apply digital technologies to empower their teachers and faculty to create new learning experiences for students and to transform education with digital technologies. That's what we do.

That might be helpful or up-to-date these days since we are moving towards a digital world. Isn't it?

Absolutely, I think that the world is really at an inflection point where we are seeing these broad scale uses of digital technologies being applied to significantly change the way industries operate.

For example, if you can think of the way governments engage with their citizens, digital technology is now being applied to significantly transform the way these interactions are conducted.

They are really focused on about two or three areas; how do you make those interactions a lot more personalised and how do you make them more efficient so better government services could be delivered.

In the case of education, better quality of education could be delivered, modernised curriculum could be enabled and of course relevant education could then be imparted to the citizens of the country.

Tell us about Microsoft's partnership with the Government of Rwanda in the area of education. How is it working?

It's very exciting. The journey of digitally transforming education involves four areas. It involves empowering students with digital tools, practices, and technologies so they can actively participate in their own learning.

We advocate the notion of 'anywhere any time learning'. You can imagine a student sitting on a bus or going home to their grandparents, why can't we create an environment where that learning or acquiring new knowledge can happen anywhere they are? Digital technologies, connected devices enable those things to happen.

The second area we focus on is teachers. How do we empower teachers to become even better teachers? Constructing very immersive ways of delivering and communicating new ideas and stimulating students to self-discover rather than the traditional way where teachers stand in front of a class and sort of become the master of the universe.

We are empowering teachers to introduce these new innovative and immersive learning experiences for students that grab your attention and make students want to learn rather than reluctantly going into learning and acquiring knowledge.

Then the other area is about institutions themselves. How can you make institutions more productive and efficient using digital technologies? The last area is about learning itself. What are some of the new pedagogies that you are going to apply to stimulate relevant 21st century skills that can support economic emergency of a country like Rwanda? So, we are working across all those four areas.

So, how do you do that? Do you distribute computers, do you bring people to train people, do you bring software and internet; how do you implement the plans?

It's a little bit of all of that. As Microsoft we work through partners and we create an environment where partners can support in delivering end point devices such as computers to students.

As an example in Rwanda, we have a partner called Positivo. They are manufacturing devices in Rwanda and the delivery of those devices to students to enable anywhere anytime learning that wouldn't be their role.

For teachers we have partnerships with not so local companies that facilitate standardised teaching, training, and capacity development for teachers and then of course we work with the ministry and policymakers on reforming and reversing their policies and procedures such that it's a lot more modern and reflects the reality of living in the 21st century.

Ultimately, what we are trying to do is to build a platform that can help the ministry and teachers, and students in Rwanda really connect and engage in new ways such that both the cost of delivering education and the benefits of education could actually be optimised.

But for the computers, do you invest in buying the computers and then distributing them to students? How does it work?

I think that the government has a programme for rolling out computers to students. Our role as Microsoft as you know we are in the software and services business. Our role is to support the government in making those computers as affordable as possible.

We have different mechanisms that we use to facilitate that. We have a long term partnership with the Ministry of Education to impact the affordability of the devices so that more devices can be made available to the students.

So, you invest strategically working with manufacturers so that the price of devices can go down but you don't give direct funds towards buying the devices?

As you can imagine, Africa has a number of countries and if you are to go and invest into buying computers for every student in Africa then that wouldn't probably be affordable. But here is where the opportunity lies; I think that if we think about all of the components of what the price of a computer entails and we can focus on controlling several of those components, let's say the cost of the operating system as an example or the design of the device and how we can reduce the cost of some of the components of the device, then perhaps that could be an even greater value that Microsoft can provide.

So, how are you doing that in Rwanda?

For the operating system on some of the devices here in Rwanda, we are making investments on reducing the cost of the operating system by about 99 per cent so that it becomes a lot more affordable for students to get a world class, modern device that can drive immersive anywhere anytime learning.

I understand you are working with Positivo but we also here in Rwanda have a larger computer delivery programme called One-Laptop-per-Child, are you also involved with it?

We are involved across a broad range of areas. You can imagine about this platform I was telling you about. Imagine this platform now has digital content that all the students across Rwanda, irrespective of which device they have, can have access to it.

So, the notion of you having digital content residing centrally in a space where students, whether the device they have is a laptop or a phone, can have access to this content that can stimulate new ideas and allow them to explore knowledge in fundamentally different ways.

It's going to be very hard for ordinary people to understand what you are doing because it sounds sophisticated and the person benefiting wouldn't know exactly who is helping. Isn't it?

Yes, they use a computer but they wouldn't know what is happening behind the scenes. But you want to think about three areas. Think about the device. The investments we are making are to support the device affordability for students.

Secondly, you recall that when you were a student you needed to have content whether it's books, videos, Google, Wikipedia, and so on. That content requires a structured approach to making it available and structuring or what we call curating that content and making it available to students a platform is required to facilitate that.

We are working to support the creation of this platform that will make the content easily available to students. The third area is of course working with teachers to help them have new ways of teaching and learning.

So, education is a complex business and the digital transformation of education requires a lot of work in all of these areas.

Now, how much have you invested in this programme? Or is it the government here giving you money? How do we quantify this?

There is always this question of what is the number? How much of this is Microsoft investing? But if you can think about these partnerships that are smart in their design, that are really focused on creating value in a variety of different ways, how much would you say is the cost of delivering content to 3.2 million students in Rwanda?

If we can build a platform that has been able to digitise all the content that is used within the education system that every student can then have access to, how much of a value would that be?

So, those are the kinds of areas that we are thinking about. Making smart investments to provide not only technical know-how but importantly creating the environment through which significant value can then be transferred.

But shouldn't the government here be contributing in terms of giving money towards your services?

Well, governments will actually apply their funds in the best ways that they think are necessary. As an example, we are talking about how can we enable anywhere anytime learning? One of the key pieces is that you can have this platform built and hosted in the cloud.

You have an end-point device like a computer being used by a child where there is Wi-Fi connection that connects the two and other different bits. So, if we can dance it to the government and say hey, how about you now taking your funding and applying it to some of the connectivity that is used that can enable anywhere anytime learning?

Suddenly you can see that this partnership really brings value for everyone. The students can learn from anywhere, they can connect with any device; the government can invest in Wi-Fi networks that can enable entrepreneurship in a variety of not only student related matters but a variety of new ideas.

And of course Microsoft can support and supply this platform and provide capacities to teachers so they can contribute to this content in new different ways.

So, you are not asking money from the government for the services you are providing?

Well, in every relationship there is a commercial transaction. In our relationship with the Government of Rwanda we think of this as being us demonstrating what's possible and the government applying its resources in smart ways to realise that at scale.

Our intention is to make interventions and investments and to support the government and the people of Rwanda in ways that can allow them to maximise the returns from the limited resources they have.

When did your partnership with the Government of Rwanda begin?

It started in 2014. We are sort of in our third year and you will probably soon start hearing about all the students getting access to email and all the students getting access to a digital identity that will allow this anywhere anytime learning.

So, they will get access to their emails without having to connect to the internet?

There you go. So, imagine there is an opportunity where students can now connect to the internet at any time and at any place that is possible just because they have a digital identity. So, because you now have an identity, just like you have an email address, you will not only use your laptop at work to connect to the internet, but might also think about using your phone and you might think about coming to a hotel.

Wherever there is internet students can now go and congregate and access education resources through their digital identity.

Tell us about the smart classrooms project that your organisation is spearheading in Rwanda...

It's very exciting. The notion is about applying new digital technologies in new and different ways to transform the way knowledge is acquired by students. The concept of the smart classroom is to create a space where you have devices, internet, new digital content, a modern curriculum, e-books, and new ways of assessing students.

All of these things combined create new ways of communicating and collaborating between students and all of these things combined create new immersive ways of learning and teaching.

That is what a smart classroom is all about.

How many smart classrooms have you already set up in Rwanda?

Right now the work is focused on building the platform elements such as the digital content, the training of teachers, and the provision of devises into schools through working with different partners.

The next big step will be bringing all the required things together; new trained teachers, new devices in schools, and the internet that is required, etc., etc. So, we are currently at the start of this partnership and we actually have a team in Rwanda right now that's working on the design of some of the emails and digital identities for students.

We have already deployed 29000 digital identities for students at the University of Rwanda and we are currently in discussions with the Rwanda Education Board about deploying 3.2 million identities for the students across the entire primary and secondary education system.

We are also focusing on students in the polytechnics to enable them with this very same identity so that they can enable this new personalised way of learning.

What are your target audience or target classrooms, what levels?

For a start, this is going to roll out in the smart classrooms but our ambition is to reach the entire student population in Rwanda whether it's in primary and secondary schools as well as the tertiary level.

So, when is there going to be some sort of launch for the smart classrooms to start working in Rwanda?

I would say that before the end of the current financial year you will have smart classrooms in Rwanda where this new way of teaching with digital identity will certainly be in place.

What does it take to succeed in doing what you are doing?

It first takes leadership. It takes a willing and receptive ministry and a willing government who is first of all interested in creating the next generation of students equipped with the knowledge and capabilities to support the transmission of Rwanda.

Leadership is super important but I think the second thing is about capacity development. How do you create the right capacity within teachers, within the directors, within the administrators of education such that they can understand what this could mean for them? The third thing that is required is for willing students.

That's probably the simpler part because students will always want to explore new ideas and do things differently. Investments and partnerships are also needed along with working together and collaboration.

Are there any challenges in the process that you are facing right now?

People are always reluctant to explore new things. That's probably the first challenge that we will face and part of what we are trying to do is to help teachers understand the benefits of this new approach so they can support and enable it to happen.

Then there are of course challenges of infrastructure; connectivity may not all be there tomorrow or in two months when we say it will be the first classroom. There are also challenges of capacity such as whether there are enough teachers, engineers, and technicians to drive this.

But I think that working in partnerships these challenges can actually be overcome.

What opportunities are there for local entrepreneurs to contribute in this project?

The opportunities are not only in the area of ensuring that we create a new ecosystem of content creation. You can imagine as a small business owner you now have an opportunity to say, can I contribute in some way towards creating this digital content?

As a former teacher how can I use the knowledge that I have as a former teacher to contribute to this digital content creation ecosystem? It doesn't exist. You have digital content in many languages but I would argue that there is probably need for us to think about how to do the same in Kinyarwanda.

Can you explain the opportunities in simple terms when it comes to creating this digital ecosystem?

This is a brand new ecosystem that needs to be developed and it creates a variety of opportunities for a number of new players. Think about digital animation for example. It can be a fantastic opportunity when you think about using it to teach different topics such as Geography, Mathematics, and a number of other subjects.

Digital animation can be a fantastic learning resource and local entrepreneurs can think about animating some of the things and use them as supplementary material to support the education industry.

Just to have an idea of where Rwanda is going with this, can you tell us where these things have worked somewhere else?

The leading countries of the world in education are Finland, Singapore, and South Korea. If you look at the way education is delivered in Singapore, it's personalised. If you look at the way the curriculum is structured in Finland, it's very different.

And if you look at the way students learn in South Korea, it's very advanced, it's about devices, it's about self-discovery for knowledge and it's about new ways of assessing students, etc. etc.

So, there is an opportunity for Rwanda with these interventions to learn and share practices with these countries. But there are a number of countries in Africa that are also starting to see elements of this taking hold.

An example is Botswana where they are thinking about digital textbooks to support even the distribution of textbooks. If you are to distribute digital textbooks and it's a file you send in an email and everybody gets it at the same time just imagine how radically different that is from packing books in a truck and move them across the country.

There is a time and efficiency benefits that digital provides. Countries like Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire, and of course Kenya next door are seeing a lot of interest in digital transmission and using devices in primary schools to focus on introducing new ways of learning. So, it's happening in Africa as well and I think Rwanda has an opportunity to lead this over the next few years.

Any message to our readers about what all of this means for Rwanda and what Rwandans need to do to make this project a success?

We would like all of the parents, all of the grandparents, the uncles and the aunties, and importantly the students to embrace this new change. We would like the parents to support the efforts of the ministry in this digital transformation of education because at the end of the day what is hoped is that through these interventions the quality of education could be improved and work opportunities for students graduating from universities can be diversified and through their work they can support the government in the transformation of Rwanda.

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