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Planning and implementing distance learning in Rwanda.

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Distance Learning (DL) is recognized to be a contemporary mode of education delivery. It is used to respond to the need of human resource development in developing countries. The evolution of Information Communication Technology (ICT) is seen as an opportunity for the development of DL. DL through ICT is perceived as an opportunity for meeting most of the challenges of higher education systems in Sub-Sahara Africa in general, and in Rwanda in particular. Planning and implementing DL as an innovation in the education system of Rwanda are processes which need to be understood if DL is to expand and contribute to human resource development in different sectors. The aim of this study was to analyze the process of planning and implementing DL in tertiary health professional education in the Kigali Health Institute and in tertiary teacher education in the Kigali Institute of Education, in order to understand the dynamics of planning and implementing DL, and to suggest the way forward for the success of those two programs. Concepts taken from innovation Havelock's problem solving strategy (1982) and social system theories in particular Owens's open sociotechnical systems for schools (1998) were combined to form the framework which guided this study. A qualitative case study, using a comparative descriptive approach, was the research design. The participants were drawn from (a) policy makers in the ministry of education, ministry of health, ministry of public services and the Rwanda Information Technology Authority (RITA); (b) management in the participating institutions; (c) the teaching staff, especially those who were involved and/or are still involved in the process; (d) students; (e) and members of professional regulatory bodies. Purposive and theoretical sampling was used to select the participants. Twenty one informants were interviewed. Three focus group discussions of six, four and eight participants respectively were conducted. In addition document review and analysis, and physical artefacts served also as means of data collection. The results showed that systematic planning with a comprehensive document and strategic plan as outcome of the planning process are essential for the successful implementation of distance learning in Rwanda. Supportive and responsive institutions and suprasystems are indispensable to a conducive environment for planning and implementing DL in Rwanda. From the results, recommendations for the progress of the two programs that were part of this study were put forward. A framework of planning and implementing DL in Rwanda was developed based on these results. This framework may be used by policy makers, educators and other parties interested in the development of DL in Rwanda.


Thesis (Ph.D.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, 2005.


Health education--Rwanda., Distance education--Rwanda., Theses--Nursing.