By Elias Hakizimana.
At least twenty children from Kigali city have gained skills in Computer and robots programmable tool kits last Friday October 18th, 2019 through a Japan-Rwanda initiative.
The tool kits that were handed over to Rwanda Education Future Laboratory located in Nyarugenge District, City of Kigali will help the young children to develop their critical thinking by using programming skills.
They include 10 sets of IchigoJam Programming Education Tool Kits given Mr. Hidekazu HARA, CEO of ict4e, and a set of 10 robots which can be used in the programming given by Mr Yuichi Matta, CEO of Natural Style Co. Ltd. In additional to that they are other 10 robot called Ozobot from Mr. Satoru Yamawaki, CEO of Castalia Co. Ltd. which can also be used by young children.
Rwanda Education Future Laboratory initiative is totally driven by the private education industry. The education industry develops a lot of creative ideas and thus it is the foundation of Knowledge-based society.
Mr. Ryuichi Sugiyama from PADECO Co., Ltd. who has been supporting Rwanda education board (REB) since 2013 for enhancing quality of competent based education.
“My challenges in Rwanda education boars is that I have noticed that we have shortage of materials and lack of programming skills among teachers, in the meantime we had a lot of ideas and skilled people in Japan who have already practiced programming education in schools. I was wondering how to bridge this gap, then, myself and Mr Antoine Mutsinzi, my old friend who have been working for our project in REB decided to set up the place to demonstrate the future education image for Rwandan people then, we brought a lot of materials that are already being practiced in Japan’s schools,” he said.
Mr. Sugiyama said that they want to equip children with these skills during week end times so that they learn how to do computer programming.
“We have discussed this issue with the ministry of education, we have been working with private schools that are much more flexible to understand our ideas, however we are also wondering how our ideas can be applied by public schools, reason why we have invited students from public schools to identify the potential of our education programme, and we will examine how it works in Rwanda, of course I do not force them to use them, it is already an experience in Japan,” he explained.
The mission of the Rwanda Education Future Laboratory is to be a Centre of learning and innovations, preparing children for academic pursuits with human values, professional skills, and responsible global citizenship, extending the frontiers of knowledge through research, creative works and use of information and communication technology.
It will help Children to become competent in the creation of Arts, Sciences and Mathematics works through the manipulations of Technological science, Mathematics and Arts gadgets/tools.
It will offer four main activities, Robotics, Programming, Gaming and Design thinking.
Mr. Sugiyama said that the laboratory can accommodate at least twenty students all the time, and in the mean time they have robots that are also programmable. He added that the gaming software will help children to learn by doing.
“Our concept is learning by doing or learning by making. So, programming and such a kind of practical skills cannot be developed by just sitting and writing something by memorizing, we need a skillful person, we can provide something which is programmable,” he said.
They have programming for ordinal level up to the advanced level. He pledges to maintain comprehensive programming education package that will help Rwandan children to develop Computer and ICT skills.
Marie Claire Benihirwe from Nyarugenge District is one of parents who participated at the handover ceremony of these tool kits. She said that it is an opportunity to demonstrate computer programming to Rwandan children.
“It made me to think how industries programme their activities and when these children use these robots properly, they can be future experts in making impactful programming in our local industries,” Benihirwe observed.
Beatha Kabatesi, another parent and official from Nyarugenge district said that the computer and robot programming demonstration to children means a lot as it opens their mind and think wisely. She promised to encourage more children to come and learn this programming.
The well-equipped laboratory will be officially open by middle of November 2019. children will be invited to join the lab and learn new skills through gaming, programming and robots.
About the Lab
Rwanda Education Future Laboratory (REFL) is a learning hub for supplementing the implementation of competence-based curriculum through technology-based learning. In the laboratory the learners will be equipped with adequate competencies (Knowledge, Skills, Values and Attitudes) that enabling them to easily and successfully access altered of higher education institutions and to get prepared to modern employment requirements.
Rwanda Education Future Laboratory (REFL) project will be implemented by a consortium between SAKURA Group Ltd, a company incorporated with Rwanda Development Board in January 2019 with aim to promote education along with philosophical, measurable societal impact, and PADECO Co. Ltd, a Japanese company established in 1983 as a group of multi-national professionals with extensive experience in international consulting. It is located in MIC Building, Muhima Sector and Nyarugenge District.