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26 February, at 14 : 09 PM Print
In his first appearance at Mobile World Congress, telecom industry’s biggest global trade show, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg announced one of the most exciting and fascinating projects ‘SocialEDU’ which will provide students in Rwanda with access to a collaborative online education experience via mobile.
The congress, which runs from 24th to 27th February, will as well outline other pressing issues but it’s Rwanda that has caught the centre of attention.
Both Facebook and Nokia in collaboration with the Rwandan government and two domestic carriers have teamed up to make the project a success and have drawn a road map that will see among others: the creation of an educational app that is integrated with Facebook, the provision of free education data for students in Rwanda who participate in the program for a year, the provision of affordable smart phones as well as financial support and extension of WiFi program to cover the country’s university campuses courtesy of the government.
The news has been received with an enthusiastic upbeat. Though not fully disseminated among the beneficiaries themselves, students have jumped to welcome the project. Anthony Kamanzi is a student at the College of Business and Economics (CBE).
Although previously not aware of the developments, Kamanzi said it was a timely move by Facebook and other stakeholders.
“I didn’t know about it but it sounds exciting. Obviously this will lessen the burden associated with online researches that can take days even weeks. For me I think it’s a timely move,” he said.
And “Marvelous” is the description 22-year old Cynthia Umunyana could give regarding the initiative. In a telephone interview, the third year student at Kigali Institute of Science and Technology said that for the first time she was going to use Facebook as an academic tool.
She said, “What an opportunity. We have previously used Facebook for social networking only, sometimes wasting so many hours chatting and sharing photos and now for the first time we have an opportunity to use it in our academic lives. It’s Marvelous”
The Mobile World Congress takes place every February in Barcelona, Spain with an attendance that falls between 60,000 to 70,000 people, while attendees represent more than 200 countries from across the globe.
It’s the first time that Rwanda has been highlighted for such a grand project, especially coming from the world’s most frequented social networking site.