The 2015 ICT in Education Master Plan defines information communication technology (ICT) as the “actual technology foundation upon which education transformation is built. It includes software, peripheral and support devices, Internet and networking infrastructure, school servers, and the right devices for teachers and students factoring in considerations for age and usage models. ICT infrastructure also takes into consideration security, privacy and management of devices such that education value and outcomes can be maximized while mitigating risks and lowering costs and time to implementation”.
Accessible technology is defined as “computer technology that enables individuals to adjust a computer to meet their vision, hearing, dexterity and mobility, learning, and language needs”, while assistive technologies are defined as “specialty hardware and software products that promote tactile stimulation, easy manipulation, integrates the visual, auditory and tactile elements to accommodate individual’s impairment, disability or multiple disabilities”. Definitions for assistive devices that include technology are also included in the Ministry of Education’s 2018 Revised Special Needs and Inclusive Education Policy, 2018/19 – 2023/24 Special Needs and Inclusive Education Strategic Plan, and the 2021-24 National Policy of Persons with Disabilities and Four Years Strategic Plan.
The Law n.10/2021 determining the organization of education defines distance learning as a method of delivering courses to learners away from a teacher, through technology”. Distance education is also defined in the Standards and Guidelines for Open and Distance Learning as the “means delivery of learning or training to those who are separated mostly by time and space from those who are teaching or training. The teaching is done with a variety of mediating processes used to transmit content, to provide tuition and to conduct assessment or measure outcomes. The delivery modes may include traditional distance education by correspondence courses, on-line provision and interactive CD ROMs, e-learning and blended learning to open learning centers and face-to-face provision where a significant element of flexibility, self-study, and learning support, in an integral part”. Online learning and e-learning means “the application of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to enhance distance education, implement open learning policies, make learning activities more flexible and enable those learning activities more flexible and enable those learning activities to be distributed among many learning venues”.
The term educational technology (EdTech) is used in some government documents, such as the 2016 ICT in Education Policy, but no definition of the term is provided.
Constitution and laws: One of the specific objectives of education defined in the Law n.10/2021 determining the organization of education is “to promote science, technology, research, technical and vocational skills in order to speed up national development” (Article 4). The law additionally stipulates that the Teacher’s Council is responsible to “promote the use of technology, languages taught in education institutions and especially of the medium of instruction” (Article 46), while an institution of higher learning is responsible to to “impart knowledge and skills through face-to-face learning, distance learning or both and promote technology for job creation purposes” and “carry out and promote research in all scientific and technological disciplines and on different issues at the national, regional and global level” (Article 74).
The 2021 Ministerial Order Determining Standards in Education similarly includes several provisions related to technology. According to the Order, ICT is part of the compulsory subjects for all learners (Article 3), and teaching and learning practices must help learners acquire and develop communication and ICT skills (Article 11). The Order additionally includes provisions for the installation of technology infrastructure in schools (Article 8).
The Law no.24/2016 Governing Information and Communications Technologies, which aims to establish a framework for ICT policy and regulation, provides for the universal access fund to “support universal access to communication services throughout the country” (Article 18), with the communications network defined as including the internet and electricity cable systems. This universal access support is also extended to schools in rural areas.
The 2003 Constitution of Rwanda (amended in 2015) does not include any reference to the use of technology in education.
Policies, plans and strategies: Rwanda has a very strong policy and strategy framework for the integration of ICT in education.
The 2016 ICT in Education Policy aims to “achieve successful education transformation” through ICT and supports that technology can be used to achieve key education goals set in the 2018/19 - 2023/24 Education Sector Strategic Plan. The integration of ICT in education is viewed as a way to promote “access to education for all and quality education that is relevant with regard to the labour market”. The Vision for ICT in education is to “harness the innovative and cost-effective potential of world-class educational technology tools and resources, for knowledge creation and deepening, to push out the boundaries of education: improve quality, increase access, enhance diversity of learning methods and materials, include new categories of learners, foster both communication and collaboration skills, and build capacity of all those involved in providing education.” Thus, ICT in education is viewed as a key contributor to achieving the Ministry of Education mission “to transform the Rwandan citizen into skilled human capital for the socio-economic development of the country by ensuring equitable access to quality education focusing on combating illiteracy, promotion of science and technology, critical thinking, and positive values” (ESSP, 2013).
The 2015 ICT in Education Master Plan is a blueprint or roadmap for using ICT to “transform education in Rwanda”. ICT has been selected as one of the key enablers “help achieve Rwanda’s vision of economic growth and social development”, with education being one of the key pillars to be transformed. It describes the overall plan for how technology will be integrated and used by schools, teachers, students, administrators and parents to “increase access, improve the quality and prepare students for the 21st century”. The key pillars of the plan include (1) ICT Infrastructure, (2) Curriculum, Content and Assessments, (3) Teacher Professional Development, and (4) Resourcing and Implementation. The 2016 Implementation Framework for ICT in Education includes specific targets towards the implementation of the ICT policy and master plan.
Since 2000, the government of Rwanda has prioritized the advancement of digital transformation in Rwanda’s economy and society (ICT for Governance Cluster Strategy 2020-24). The Rwanda Vision 2020 and 2050 places ICTs at the heart of the transformation across all sectors (including education). According to the 2006 Republic of Rwanda’s Policy on Science, Technology and Innovation, “efforts shall be made to ensure that Science and Technology is fully integrated into national and sectoral policies and across the education system”, including primary, secondary and tertiary education levels.
Technology in education is also viewed as important in achieving the 2018/19 to 2023/24 Education Sector Strategic Plan and addressing the key challenges of access, quality, equity, relevance and management efficiency. The Ministry of Education has an Internal ICT Management Policy (applying to all ICT equipment installed within the Ministry), while the use of technology in education is also included in the 2020 National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy, 2018-24 ICT Sector Strategic Plan, 2020-24 ICT for Governance Cluster Strategy, The 2015-20 SMART Rwanda Master Plan, and ICT Hub Strategy 2024. The 2011-15 National ICT Strategy and Plan includes education strategies such as developing digital skills, teacher training, school connectivity, and improving overall access to education through ICT. The 2018-24 ICT Sector Strategic Plan envisions Rwanda as being the “Leading ICT Hub in Africa.”
The 2022 National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Policy aims to leverage AI to power economic growth, improve quality of life and position Rwanda as a global innovator for responsible and inclusive AI, with specific education objectives.
The 2017 National Digital Talent Policy supports the development of digital literacy in schools.
Digital competency frameworks: The 2017 Rwanda ICT Essentials for Teachers is based on the UNESCO ICT Competency Framework for Teachers and outlines the competencies that teachers need to integrate ICT into their professional practice. For students, the 2015 ICT Competence-Based Syllabus for Lower Secondary is designed to designed to develop learners' competences rather than just their knowledge.
Changes occurred as a result of COVID-19: According to the Response Plan of the Ministry of Education to the COVID-19 Outbreak, which included long-term responses, beyond school closures, the remote learning opportunities build by the Ministry of Education, its Agencies, and its partners, will be sustained through various systems E-learning platforms will be continued to be enhanced and strengthened, featuring alternative methods for learning. This will include but not be limited to demonstration of science experiments, understanding that some schools are not equipped with science laboratories. And, in the enhancement of e-learning platforms, adult digital literacy will be a focus, ensuring all levels of the population have the ability to access and promote self- and life-long learning, especially in the aim to meet the goals of Rwanda as a knowledge-based and digital society.
2.2.1. Technology infrastructure and digital capacity of schools
The 2016 ICT in Education Policy and 2016 ICT in Education Master Plan both recognize the importance of ensuring the availability of infrastructure to “successfully integrate ICTs at all levels of education”, with short-term and long-term objectives. Major challenges identified are inadequate infrastructure, poor connectivity, and high costs.
Electricity: According to the 2021 Ministerial Order Determining Standards in Education, the infrastructure in pre-primary and primary schools must include electricity (Article 4). Ehe 2015 ICT in Education Master Plan states that one of the key elements of the Smart Education program is continuous and reliable electrical power in schools. The Ministry of Information Communication Technology and Innovation (MINICT) provides a model for schools with grid electricity (including teacher and student laptops, school LAN and servers), a model for schools with low capacity alternative power sources (such as a batter-packed school server and teacher and student laptops), and a model for schools with limited access to power (such as a teacher laptop, battery operated projector, battery operated wireless point, and painted wall). Through a collaboration with the Ministry of Infrastructure (MINAFRA), the MINICT aims for each school to have access to electricity either through the National Grid or by other forms of electricity such as solar, generators or wind power. The 2016 Implementation Framework for ICT in Education similarly has an objective to increase the power connection to schools, which includes electrical wiring of classrooms.
The Law no.24/2016 Governing Information and Communications Technologies includes electricity as part of the communication services in the universal access fund.
Computers and devices: Since 2008, the Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) has implemented the “One Laptop per Child” (OLPC) program, which was revised to the “One Digital Identity per Child” and “Smart Classrooms” in all primary and secondary schools that enable 1:1 learning environments. The main objectives of the ongoing OLPC program are the enhancement of education by enabling students to learn by doing through graphically rich, animated, interactive digital courses and gaming, transforming the role of the teacher from the knowledge holder to a facilitator who guides pupils to access the vast knowledge on the laptops, servers and on the internet, enabling primary school students an early access to computers where they can develop computer skills through computer science courses which include programming skills, and expanding their knowledge on specific subjects like Science, Mathematics, Languages and Social Sciences through online research and digital content hosted on school servers. While one device per child remains the Ministry’s end goal, the government switched to reduce costs and increase access and equity. More importantly, this policy aims to ensure that technology is integrated in all education processes (i.e. preparation, delivery of lessons, assessments and research). Smart Classrooms are defined as technology enhanced classrooms that integrate learning technology (such as computers, digital content, and assistive technologies) into the everyday classroom, with teachers utilizing technology to teach every subject rather than technology being used on an “ad-hoc” basis and students going to a dedicated lab. The Smart Classroom program digitizes the education-learning process and provides students and teachers access to computers and basic education software platforms. The objective set for 2015 was classroom laptops for teachers (with connectivity), a minimum of 1 computer per 5 students, and 100 laptops per school. All teacher and student laptops must meet certain requirements, including security, battery life, performance, usage, and storage. The establishment of smart classrooms is further supported in the 2016 Implementation Framework for ICT in Education and 2018 Smart Classroom Design Concept Note.
The MINEDUC also promotes the “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) program for teachers and students in order to increase ICT penetration at all levels (ICT in Education Master Plan 2015; ICT in Education Policy 2016; ICT Sector Strategic Plan 2018-24). In 2019, Rwanda aimed to distribute at least 1,528 new model laptops to “bring the Rwandan children up to speed with the latest technology in ICT equipment”. The 2022 Concept Note for One Laptop per Teacher additionally encourages teachers to own computers through a three years’ loan scheme.
Internet connectivity: Rwanda’s universal access fund, which is aimed at accelerating the use of ICTs (including internet services) in remote and under-served parts of the country is extended to schools in remote and rural areas. One of the objectives of the 2015-20 SMART Rwanda Master Plan is for all learning institutions to be connected to the national education network with full access to digital contents (Objective #2: Utilize ICT for Education as a tool to enhance teaching and learning). In the 2015 ICT in Education Master Plan, the Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) plans to collaborate with the Ministry of Information Communication Technology and Innovation (MINICT) to connect all education institutions to the National Education and Research Network, with connectivity being viewed as a key element of the Smart Education and “One Digital Identity per Child” programs. The 2015 National ICT Strategy and Plan aims to increase ICT usage through the EDUNet and SchoolNet programs which aim to provide ICT infrastructure and connectivity for all education levels.
The 2015 ICT in Education Master Plan 2015 includes different capacity requirements identified for different education institutions, with minimum bandwidth requirements ranging from 10 – 100 Kbps per student/staff. Increasing internet connectivity in schools is also included as part of the 2016 Implementation Framework for ICT in Education. One of the goals of the 2018-24 ICT Sector Strategic Plan is to provide “affordable and accessible broadband connectivity and infrastructure” for all by 2024 (98% mobile penetration and 80% internet penetration by 2024). Schools are also included in the 2022 National Broadband Policy and Strategy which supports the expansion of broadband connectivity in schools.
In March 2023, the government of Rwanda additionally launched the “School Connectivity Program”, which aims to connect all primary and secondary schools in the country to high-speed internet by the end of 2024.
2.2.2. Technology and learning environments
The government has various policies and guidelines for the provision of open and distance learning in Rwanda, including the Standards and Guidelines for Open and Distance Learning and the 2016 National Open, Distance and eLearning Policy. There is also a dedicated section on Open, Distance, and e-Learning in the 2021 Ministerial Order Determining Standards in Education. The 2016 ICT in Education Policy aims to promote the use of open distance and e-Learning in order to increase the provision of educational opportunities at all education levels. The focus of the policy is on setting up an effective ICT support for open distance and e-Learning, building capacity and competence on the delivery of open distance and e-Learning (including the development of content and training of instructors), and enabling blended face-to-face and e-learning approaches. Teachers will also be enabled to use open educational resources and Massive Open Online Courses. Open and distance learning is also highlighted in the 2015 ICT in Education Master Plan, which aims to implement a cloud-based content distribution system with the online learning management system for all education levels, as a response to the 2015-20 SMART Rwanda Master Plan objective to make national education materials and contents available online. The 2011-15 National ICT Strategy and Plan also aims to “increase access to education through Open, Distance and e-Learning (ODEL) programs”, through the development of an open, distance and e-Learning framework, teacher training, infrastructure development, and awareness raising. The 2018-24 ICT Sector Strategic Plan aims to “improve accessibility to digital education information and content”.
The Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) plans to fully integrate the use of ICT within the national education system through the “Smart Classroom” program. One of the goals of the 2015 ICT in Education Master Plan is to rethink the approach to teaching and learning and switch from print to digital materials as ICT infrastructure is deployed in schools. This includes the development and acquisition of digital content aligned with the revised curriculum, acquisition of a content distribution platform, definition of a book acquisition policy for the development of e-textbooks, and the development of the Rwanda digital library. Digital content is also referenced in the 2019 Rwanda Child Online Protection Policy, which supports the development of “edutainment” digital content that is designed to help children develop digital skills through entertainment like games and puzzles.
During the COVID-19 school closures in 2020, the Response Plan of the Ministry of Education to the COVID-19 Outbreak worked to elaborate upon the Government of Rwanda’s National Preparedness and Response COVID-19 Plan, with specifics for the Education Sector (medium and long-term responses). Three main initiatives were undertaken for remote learning during the school closures (ranging from low tech to high tech approaches), including radio lessons, audio-visual lessons (primarily through television broadcasting), and e-learning. The Ministry of Education analyzed household access to basic technology and devices in Rwanda to decide on which remote learning platforms to adopt.
The government also aimed to protect and provide for vulnerable populations, including children with disabilities, girls, and children from lower wealth-quintiles. Once lockdown measures were lifted, a gender sensitization campaign was undertaken to mobilize community support for protection of vulnerable girls and boys from various forms of violence. Children from lower wealth quintiles were supported through targeted support for nutrition and provision of scholastic materials and uniforms, complementing the Ubudehe system. Finally, the government planned on continuing existing support for children with disabilities, aligned with the MINEDUC’s 2018 Revised Special Needs and Inclusive Education Policy.
The vision of the 2016 ICT in Education Policy is to encourage students and teachers to use ICT as an “integral part of the education process” in curriculum and content. This includes the integration of ICT in core and elective subject learning, the promotion of ICT as a subject matter, and the enabling of 21st century skills through technology. By 2018, the policy aims for Smart Classrooms and the revised curriculum to be integrated for all grades. In 2016-18, a revised competency-based curriculum was introduced from pre-school to secondary education level which emphasizes the importance of mastering concrete skills that are designed to be relevant to the Rwanda labor market needs and deeply integrate technology (as part of both ICT skills development and the learning process) (ICT in Education Master Plan 2015). This includes the 2015 ICT Competence-Based Syllabus for Lower Secondary which aims to empower Rwandans with relevant and modern ICT competences through up-to-date technologies. Similar goals are stated in the 2020 National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy and 2018-24 ICT Sector Strategic Plan, which highlight “digital literacy for all” and the development of advanced technology skills for students and teachers. The 2017 National Digital Talent Policy similarly promotes digital literacy for primary and secondary school students.
The 2018/19 - 2023/24 Education Sector Strategic Plan aims to further strengthen Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) across all levels of education, with a special attention to the development of ICT and digital competencies. STEM is also promoted in the 2022 National Artificial Intelligence Policy, which aims to align the national curriculum at primary school and secondary school levels with the '21st century curriculum’ and further develop STEM skills.
According to the 2008 Girls Education Policy, special measures will be introduced to improve girls’ enrolment in the non-traditional fields of study, particularly in Science and Technology. Policy strategies include the provision of fee-free tuition for 20 girls a year who qualify for science and/or technology training and education and increasing the share of women and girls in science and technology courses. One of the strategic priorities of the 2018/19 - 2023/24 Education Sector Strategic Plan is to “strengthen STEM across all levels of education in Rwanda to increase the relevance of education for urban and rural markets”, with a priority to attract more women and girls into these fields of learning. The 2003 Education Sector Policy and 2020 National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy also put focus on “promoting girls’ education especially in science and technology fields in Secondary and Higher Education”. The 2020 National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy aims to put strategies in place to integrate women in science, technology and innovation disciplines, including through the establishment of quotas and funding schemes. The 2015-20 SMART Rwanda Master Plan highlights the empowerment of Women and Youth in ICT as one of its pillars, while the 2024 ICT Hub Strategy 2024 includes a “gender and ICT” section which highlights the need for gender to be integrated as a crosscutting issue in all development policies and strategies. Digital and mobile technologies are viewed as empowering for women, by providing them with opportunities to access education services. Through its implementation, the strategy seeks to address the “gender digital divide which limits women’s ability to participate fully towards building an equitable knowledge-based society”.
The 2020 Teacher Professional Standards include several ICT objectives, with expectations for teachers to have good knowledge and understanding of ICT tools and integrate ICT in the teaching and learning process. The 2017 Rwanda ICT Essentials for Teachers is based on the UNESCO ICT Competency Framework for Teachers and outlines the competencies that teachers need to integrate ICT into their professional practice. It draws from a set of competencies clustered around six major education focus areas and focuses on the Technology Literacy growth phase of knowledge acquisition. The 2019 Advanced ICT Essentials For Teachers Course Curriculum Document (version 3) includes units on teachers using interactive whiteboard to support teaching and learning, Assistive Technology for Inclusive and Special Needs Education, Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) Framework, Games into Lessons, Mobile Devices to Support Teaching and Learning, Multimedia Applications and Simulations, Motivation for Learners and Learning Modalities, Learner-centric Lessons, Flipped’ Classroom, Online Learning Environment, and Online Learning.
According to the 2015 ICT in Education Master Plan, “teachers remain key to the successful integration of ICT in education”. Through a targeted policy change, all teachers are required to complete a minimum of 40 hours of training courses per year on ICT integration, with a certificate given to teachers by the Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) to show the completion of the required course. The plan also includes details on curriculum requirements, required courses, suggested courses, and elective courses for teachers. Pre-service training uses the same material as in-service training to ensure that pre-service teachers are already equipped with the skills and knowledge to use ICT in the classroom. To effectively train all teachers across Rwanda, a train-the-trainer strategy was deployed, where Master Trainers train classroom teachers. The 2016 ICT in Education Policy also supports “ICT competencies for teachers” as one of its short-term objectives, which includes pre-service and in-service training for all teachers to “keep up to date with technological and pedagogical developments” and ensure their effective utilization of technology (software and hardware) in teaching and learning. The policy explicitly supports the provision of ICT literacy training programs and the development of general training standards and certification requirements for teachers. Moreover, the aim is for all teachers to be provided a laptop with connectivity through a 2-3 year purchase program. Pre-service and in-service ICT training for teachers is also supported in the 2016 Implementation Framework for ICT in Education. The enhancement of teaching skills in ICT across all education levels is also highlighted in the 2018/19 - 2023/24 Education Sector Strategic Plan, which states that “teachers will be trained not only in computer skills, but also in the ability to use ICT as a tool to improve learning and to encourage a more learner-centred approach”. This includes all primary and secondary school teachers. The 2011-15 National ICT Strategy and Plan also supports “ICT training for teachers” with the aim to “develop teacher capabilities in and through ICT”. According to the 2021-24 National Policy of Persons with Disabilities and Four Years Strategic Plan, there is also a plan for teachers to be trained on the use of adapted technologies for students with disabilities.
The Presidential Order No.64/2020 establishing special statutes governing teachers in nursery, primary, secondary and technical and vocational schools stipulates that “a teacher has the right and the duty to undertake capacity development programs to improve his or her expertise and knowledge, in accordance with relevant laws” (Article 52). The “integration of Information and Communication Technology in teaching and learning” is included as a subject under the Continuing Profession Development (CPD) Courses for teachers (Article 52). According to the 2016 ICT in Education Policy, ICTs can be used to strengthen teacher professional development, with one of the strategic objectives being the development of teachers’ capacity and capability in and through ICT. The policy specifically supports providing in-service professional development development opportunities for teachers to enable the use and creation of digital content and pedagogic integration. A few of the proposed ICT policies in the 2015 ICT in Education Master Plan are for all teachers to complete a minimum of 120 hours of Teacher Professional Development every 3 years and for each teacher to have five-year plan to complete 40 hours of approved professional development each year. The professional development of teachers should be “consistent and ongoing”, with at least 2 full-time technology integration specialists per sector to rotate through the designated number of schools and mentor teachers.
The 2015 National Cybersecurity Policy acknowledges the importance of cybersecurity as Rwanda becomes increasingly dependent on ICT for business, education, health and other sectors. The government has undertaken several cybersecurity capacity building initiatives, including the development and implementation of education and training programs in cyber and information security and collaboration and partnership with international cyber security agencies to ensure knowledge and skills transfer. The 2015 National Cybersecurity Strategic Plan aims to ensure that legal and regulatory frameworks are in compliance with national and international cyber security standards and best practices. The plan supports the promotion of education and professional training to ensure the development of skilled workforce in the area of cyber security and the promotion of cybersecurity awareness in all sectors and levels in order to “build a cyber security culture and cyber aware society”.
According to the 2015 ICT in Education Master Plan, laptops provided to teachers and students should meet certain minimum requirements, which include “built-in, HW-level security and online protection for students and schools”, anti-theft software, and “industry-leading anti-virus software with automatic web-based updates for at least 3 years”. The software must specifically include user privacy protection through smart apps and scanning for risky web content, malware, botnets, and spyware. For students specifically, there must be consideration of the appropriateness of age and internet dependence, with ethnographic research planned to “ensure best fit of the device to the age of the student”. The plan also mentions that ICT infrastructure should take into consideration the security of devices and include theft deterrence and virus protection.
The 2011-15 National ICT Strategy and Plan supports “cyber security capacity building” with the aim to “improve and increase Rwandan cyber security capabilities”, as it states there is an “inadequate supply of cyber security experts”. As part of its activities, the plan aims to “develop and implement education and training curricula programs in cyber and information security”, foster collaboration between international cyber security agencies, and increase training. One of its outcome indicators is “at least 100 students from Rwandan universities trained in cyber security per year”. The government additionally plans on establishing a National Cyber Security Research Centre (NSRC) to “increase and improve cyber security preparedness”. Capacity building in the area of cybersecurity is also supported in the 2018-24 ICT Sector Strategic Plan, which aims to “promote education and professional training to ensure the development of skilled workforce in the area of cyber security”.
2.4.1. Data privacy
The 2019 Rwanda Child Online Protection Policy supports the strengthening of data protection regulations, “ensuring that children’s data is protected appropriately, collected only where necessary with the high levels of security and care”. The policy aims to “introduce data protection regulation that caters for children data privacy along the principles of Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations to ensure confidentiality, application of emerging technologies among others”. Regulations should include children’s data given special category status, requiring higher levels of protection and other safeguards, and the introduction of parental consent for the online collection and processing of younger children’s data.
The 2016 ICT in Education Policy supports “ensuring that learners and educators are empowered to encounter internet related risks to privacy and content quality”. According to the 2015 ICT in Education Master Plan, ICT infrastructure should take into consideration the “security, privacy and management of devices such that education value and outcomes can be maximized while mitigating risks, and lowering costs and time to implementation”. Data privacy is also referenced in the 2020-24 ICT for Governance Cluster Strategy, which states that “Rwanda’s modern digital government must ensure that adequate data protection measures are in place to enable its citizens, public authorities but also private sector actors to conduct their online transactions securely with the maximum protection of their privacy”.
The 2018 Revised Policy on Intellectual Property in Rwanda aims to “introduce intellectual property in the educational curricula to domesticate intellectual property in schools and universities”. The protection of copyright is subject to certain fair-use exceptions, which include educational purposes.
2.4.2. Online abuse and cyberbullying
The vision of the 2019 Rwanda Child Online Protection Policy is that “all Rwandan children are empowered to access the digital environment creatively, knowledgeably and safely”, with the policy designed to mitigate against online risks and harms and provide a framework that meets children’s needs and rights in a digital environment. The policy specifically supports the (1) establishment of Child Online Protection Leads and Clubs in schools that will be responsible enacting child protection policies (including safeguarding procedures) in schools, (2) mainstream of child online protection within digital literacy across the school curriculum, (3) enabling of child online protection in informal education, and (4) training teachers on matters relating to child online protection to “increase their knowledge and monitor children’s safety”. It additionally promotes safety-by design, the protection of children from commercial pressures, and awareness raising in child online protection issues. The policy also calls on Rwanda to ratify and domesticate international treaties relating to child online protection.
According to this policy, the government should “strengthen criminal investigation, prosecution and sentencing for online child sexual abuse” and “establish a coordinated multi–stakeholder framework to tackle online child abuse”. The capabilities of the Rwanda Computer Emergency and Security Incident Response Team (Rw-CSIRT) and the Police Cybercrime and Investigation Centre aim to be reviewed and strengthened to detect, prevent and respond to cyber security threats, specifically those related to child online protection. Cyberbullying is included as one of the conduct risks in the Rwanda Child Online Protection Policy 2019.
The 2019 Rwanda Child Online Protection Policy also supports the mainstreaming of child online protection within digital literacy, which “will emphasise and encourage the positive, autonomous and creative use of digital technologies by children; clearly define the risks, benefits, and social outcomes of using technology; and will aim to ensure that protective and preventative measures are broadly disseminated, understood and applied”.
Finally, the policy includes mandatory teacher training in child online safety. According to the policy, “training for teachers and professional development shall be encouraged to increase their knowledge to teach and monitor children’s safety”. The policy states that child online protection training must form a mandatory part of teaching degrees at primary and secondary level. All teachers must specifically complete mandatory training in child online protection, delivery child online protection lessons to students, and be aware of school policy in relation to child online protection.
The Law no.60/2018 on Prevention and Punishment of Cyber Crimes makes no reference to educational institutions.
The Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) is responsible for policy implementation of the 2016 ICT in Education Policy and overall management of ICT in education in Rwanda for all education levels, namely pre-primary, primary, secondary, technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and higher education. One of the core functions of the Ministry is the promotion of ICT as a tool for learning and teaching. The Directorate of General of Digitalization is responsible for the digital transformation of the Ministry of Education and its affiliated institutions, to ensure that they support the entire Education Sector’s vision and goals. According to the 2016 ICT in Education Policy, ICT in Education shall be overseen by the ICT in Education Steering Committee, which consists of members from the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Youth and ICT, Rwanda Education Board, Workforce Development Agency and the University of Rwanda. The ICT in Education Coordination and Implementation Units are responsible for the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the policy.
The Rwanda Basic Education Board (REB) operates under the Ministry of Education for the development of curricula and learning materials, the coordination of teacher development and capacity building, and the promotion of ICT in basic education. The REB has a specific department responsible for ICT, namely the ICT in Education Department. The ICT in Education Department is responsible for school connectivity, the provision of learning devices and cloud solutions to schools, and the development of digital content.
The Ministry of Information Communication Technology (ICT) and Innovation has overall responsibility for ICT policy and coordination in Rwanda, including in educational institutions of all levels.
The Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) is mandated to license, monitor and enforce license obligations in the ICT sector, manage scarce resources, advise policy makers on ICT, postal and media related issues and represent Rwanda in international organizations on issues pertaining to ICT.
The National Council for Science and Technology is an independent advisory board to the government that is based in the Office of the Prime Minister and is responsible for the development, promotion and coordination of Rwanda’s science, technology, and innovation.
Rwanda also works with the East African Commission for Science and Technology (EASTECO) to organize periodic high-level policy fora for deeper integration and exchange of innovations and good practice in various sub-sectors of education.
According to the 2016 ICT in Education Policy, the government of Rwanda also aims on engaging with various local, regional, and global partners in efforts to integrate ICTs in education through multi-stakeholder partnerships.
In 2018, the government of Rwanda banned the use of mobile phones among students in primary and secondary school to fight distraction and protect them from the risks of human trafficking. According to this decision, students are advised to use mobile phones only when they are with their parents and should leave them at home when they go to school.