The quality of graduates from Rwanda’s institutions of higher learning has been attracting debate. This debate was triggered by recent remarks made by the President while at the National University of Rwanda that, apart from the numbers which have noticeably risen, there remains a big concern- that the graduates are half baked.
One commentator Fredrick Goloba suggested in his piece in this paper that the problem should be traced from the lower levels of the education system, which is true. I don’t want to appear defensive.
However, I’m against the idea of solely blaming the teachers for this education mess.
All the stakeholders including teachers, parents, students and the Ministry of Education should share the blame. I will cite one example to illustrate my point: A student assaults a teacher, a parent imprisons a teacher, other students protest the arrest and the Education Ministry intervenes by ordering the dismissal of the teacher.
I mean students are given a lot of freedom which ruins their academic performance.
They are not supposed to be beaten, their misconduct not withstanding. The stake holders seem to be seeing things from different angles and yet we expect teachers to produce quality products.
If you happen to be partly involved with the school situations, it will not take you time to realise that some students and parents are terrible.
Some students when asked, they are rude to teachers and you realise that their level of concern about their education is almost non-existent. Some students are drug abusers, chain smokers and drunkards. But somehow they find their way to the university.
Make schools like football matches or night clubs where you are thrown out in case you misbehave.
Dismiss unruly students from schools and ban their admission to any other school for some years and if they rejoin school and misbehave again, get them banned for good.
Students even have the liberty to refuse to sit exams as long as they feel they are not ready.
I know there are disciplined and brilliant students out there some of whom have been rewarded by the Imbuto Foundation for their commitment and excellent performance, but surely there many whose conduct need serious rehabilitation before taking them to class.
Parents should especially be blamed for failing to do their work of properly bringing up their children. Many successful people attribute their success to their disciplinarian parents.
I cannot commend too much the level of professionalism. But I have seen many fantastic teachers who are fully devoted to their students. You see, you can drive cows down the stream but you cannot force them to drink the water.
Also due to poor conditions of the teaching profession, unfortunately, the best teachers have joined other professions.
If the best teachers are changing roles, students’ standards will inevitably be compromised.
Presently what is the Ministry of Education doing to retain the present good teachers in the profession? Given the expected rise in student enrolment due to the nine year education programme, is the ministry ready to handle it?
We can accept to say the past generation contained mediocre, but this should not be the case in 15 year’s time.
Recruit the right teachers, who know what they are doing and reduce the labour turn over.