Providing quality education that is accessible for all has been the sole responsibility of teachers. Previously, providing education for the few elites was what mattered while the masses were left to languish in poverty, with little or no opportunity to access basic education.
Today, the contrast is huge. Everyone is not only striving to catch up with the lost years but have also started dealing with the challenge of ensuring quality education.
One of the incentives is the nine-year-basic education-- a system that gives children three additional years of secondary education for free.
With the increased number of children going to primary school, there is pressure to build more schools and classrooms.
This called for more construction material, grants, as well as school feeding programs in order to achieve this goal by 2010.
That is why the government has chosen to mobilize the community to chip in and contribute toward this noble cause.
It’s from this background that government officials kick started the campaign to build new classrooms across the nation. This experience reminded me of my primary school days in a dust-filled, overcrowded room without windows and doors.
We sat five on a rough wooden bench with nothing more than a blackboard on the wall for teaching purposes; this made teaching extremely difficult for teachers while the students had a hard time learning in those conditions.
The school also had a huge termite problem, rendering one of the rooms almost unusable, while a lot of the students had jiggers because of the dusty floor.
One day, a village recognized that cementing the classrooms had to be a priority and they mobilised local people to undertake the task.
The classrooms were cemented and ready for use by the start of the school term.
During the year the parents committee would continue to work with local labourers to assemble shutters and doors, furnish all rooms with desks and chairs; and paint blackboards and walls, the government would chip in later by providing more teachers, and finally class enrolments increased and sizes was reduced.
In countries like Rwanda where portable classrooms seem quit unfeasible there is a need for community contribution in new classroom construction.
According to estimates of the Ministry of Education, some 4,000 new classrooms and 13,000 latrines are needed to accommodate lower secondary students next year.
This would require Rwf47 billion, yet MINEDUC’s budget can only provide one fifth of that amount.
The question now is who should fill this gap; well, like the President often reiterates Rwandans should be at forefront of finding the solutions for our problems.
Given the limited resources at our disposal, we need to work hand in hand with the Ministry of Education to chip in and get the work done .
Taking an example of Kigabiro Sector, Rwamagana District; out of the 127 classrooms needed in the entire district, the RDF soldiers have managed to construct six classrooms.
Now, imagine that one classroom can accommodate 60 students- that means that 360 students will have obtained classes to study in.
This simple illustration has shown us that each of us can ease the burden that the education ministry is shouldering.
The more players, the easier it will be for the government to successfully implement the Nine-Year-Basic Education programme.