Rwanda Education Commons (REC)

www.educationcommons.rw
Funded by
USAID
Undertaken in coordination with
Rwanda Ministry of Education, Mindset Network (South Africa), Rwanda Development Gateway, and numerous private sector partners

Rwanda, like many other countries in Africa, faces a growing youth population and lacks an educational infrastructure to give them the skills needed for the 21st century. Fortunately, Rwanda has been the beneficiary of many international funding efforts focusing on the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) for education. One continuing challenge has been difficulty in coordinating policy, resources, and activities between all the different players in the country.

GLP designed an approach to address this very familiar challenge –creation of a Digital Commons. The Commons vision offers a central virtual location for all stakeholders – government, funders, NGOs, the private sector - to share and coordinate efforts for programmatic activities.

The Rwanda Education Commons (REC) creates a model of the Digital Commons, demonstrating the use of ICT to connect education stakeholders with each other and with resources, for the overall purpose of improving access to quality education.

The REC is guided by an evolving set of principles that emphasize cooperation, transparency, scalability, alignment to national goals, and sensitivity to demand. As ICT in education programs often tend to be fragmented, bilateral, and vendor-driven, REC aims to be nothing less than a new model for the use of ICT in educational development.

Activities undertaken under the REC will help realize the Commons vision, and therefore demonstrate a positive and sustainable impact on teaching and learning.

To design a Rwanda-specific iteration of the Commons model, GLP performed a needs assessment to determine where an investment in ICT would have the maximum impact on education in Rwanda. The assessment found

  • that ICT activities were poorly coordinated, resulting in duplication, overlap, and wastage of resources; and
  • that teacher preparation was identified by multiple education stakeholders to be a critical gap.

Thus, an REC program is designed to

  • improve coordination of ICT in education activities;
  • improve the capacity of education institutions to create ICT-infused resources and of educators to learn from them;
  • identify, adapt, and organize a wide array of educational materials; and
  • establish a multi-channel platform, featuring an online portal but also offline channels such as newspapers, radio, and DVDs, to disseminate materials and connect users.

GLP signed a MOU with the Rwanda Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) on January 12, 2009, and since its inception has been recognized by MINEDUC as a leader in the ICT in education sector in Rwanda. REC has:

  • Supported finalization of the ICT for Education policy initiated by the World Economic Forum
  • Completed an ICT in education activity mapping exercise and created a baseline of ICT in education activities for MINEDUC
  • Organized a major ICT in education workshop June 3 – 4, 2009, bringing together five Ministers, MINEDUC staff, donors, ICT firms, NGOs, , teacher trainers, teachers, and other stakeholders

 

Voices from the field

"Rwanda needs to develop expertise through building ICT infrastructure, capacity, and content," said ICT in Education Coordinator Albert Nsengiyumva. "Partnerships can deliver and leverage that expertise, while at the same time ensuring that there is something that both sides can get," said Nsengiyumva who works with the Rwanda Education Commons, a GLP initiative. View the article here.

Lessons learned
  • Active Commitment to Local Ownership: The progress made to date by the REC has successfully demonstrated to Rwanda education stakeholders, including government and key education and technology institutions, a genuine commitment to ensuring that the ownership of the Rwanda-specific iteration of the Commons is owned by Rwanda.

    REC has demonstrated this by

    • responding quickly and flexibly to urgent requests, as in providing temporary capacity to develop policy;
    • producing a workplan that prioritizes areas, such as teacher preparation, identified by Rwanda education stakeholders as critical gaps;
    • regularly convening and listening to representatives from Rwanda educational institutions, and continuing to expanding that group; and
    • facilitating the development of partnerships between international private sector companies with local education institutions.

     

  • Wide Partnership, including Private Sector: The trust and confidence of Rwanda education stakeholders has also enabled the Commons to bring new players to the table. International private sector companies likely attended the June 3 – 4 workshop primarily because of outreach activities undertaken by GLP in the months preceding, but this outreach would not have been as effective if the REC could not deliver the enthusiasm, expertise, and interest of Rwanda education stakeholders. REC has succeeded at producing a collaborative space where strong partnerships have been and will be forged.

  • Keep Momentum High: However, the Commons must expand its process activities if it is to manage large and complex multi-stakeholder partnerships in Rwanda and elsewhere. The June workshop, successful in illuminating potential synergies, could have more clearly defined a method to achieve those synergies.

    Towards that end, GLP proposes the following new activities, under two new components, Outreach and Infrastructure

Global Learning Portal - View my 'Rwanda ICT in Education Partnership Building Workshop, June 2009 ' set on Flickriver