KICUKIRO - To succeed as tutors of the nation’s future leaders, teachers should begin by exhibiting high levels of discipline and be good examples to their students, President Paul Kagame told educationists yesterday.
Kagame, who was addressing more than one thousand national examiners of both primary and secondary school examinations at Kagarama Secondary School in Kicukiro district, said that the road to raising responsible students begins with the teachers themselves.
“You should be exemplary because it is impossible to administer discipline when you are not disciplined yourself. You cannot for example turn up in class in the morning drunk and manage to convince your students that drinking is not good,” he said.
Kagame reminded the teachers that good work talks for itself.
“The trophies we have been receiving, and particularly the international trophy received by the Rwanda National Examination Council (RNEC) are testimony that good work is doing the talking. The trophies should be our path towards working harder and being consistent,” he said.
Kagame told the teachers that teaching was not their only task but also parenting because they raise children to culturally be responsible individually, to their family and the nation.
He acknowledged the progress made by the teachers since the last time he met them and promised to do everything possible to rectify the problems they face.
“Though the solutions may not readily be available, we are not ignoring your issues, I would like to let you know that we are aware of them and we are looking for solutions.”
Questions and answers:
The teachers were given an opportunity to ask questions and Venant Ntaganda took the opportunity to ask the President about an issue of teachers who were working in the other East African countries but could not access their pension benefits upon returning to Rwanda.
“Mr. President, teachers who were working in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Burundi were compensated by their respective Social Security Funds. However, those from Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda are still struggling to get what rightfully belongs to them. How can government help to solve that matter?” he asked.
The Minister for Local government, James Musoni, who was present volunteered to answer and reassured the teachers that they would receive their money soon.
“That issue was indeed solved on the side of DRC and Burundi but teachers who came from East African countries will get their money very soon, probably before the end of the year. The process is in its final stages,” he said.
The Minister for Education, Charles Murigande, who was also present at the event added that the Rwanda Social Security Fund (CSR) has been undergoing restructuring to pave way for new reforms.
“There are going to be changes that will for example see people who save with RSSF, borrow money from the fund and using their savings as collateral,” he said.
On the issue of arrears owed to the teachers over the years, John Rwangombwa, the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning pointed out that the government was in the process to disburse Rfw 3.5bn worth of arrears and the payment process began yesterday with 13 districts benefitting in the first phase since all their documents were in order.
“There is Rwf 500 million that is meant to go to five districts and Rfw 1.7 billion awaits a number of teachers whose documents are not yet in order,” he said.
Marie Chantal Imanimwe expressed her disappointment over the National University of Rwanda which confiscated several teachers’ degrees over arrears owed to the university by the Ministry of Labour and Public service (MIFOTRA).
“MIFOTRA paid for us (teachers) to advance our education but upon completion, the university refused to award us our degrees because the Ministry owed the university some money. We are being paid the same amount of money that we used to earn before going for further studies because we have no proof that we indeed attended university,” she said
Murigande, who was shocked to hear of the teachers’ ordeal promised to solve the issue immediately.
“I am surprised to hear of that case. I was not aware of that issue at all but we are going to write to the university to award the teachers their papers and we will solve this issue institution to institution,” he said.
The Executive Secretary of the Rwanda National Examination Council said that in the past few years, they have achived a lot mainly the conveyor-belt marking system where each student’s paper is marked by several teachers depending on what they know best.
He also said that the education system in Rwanda was currently harmonising the grading system with the rest of the East African Examination Boards system. Exam results can now be checked via SMS internet and are accessible to every student or parent anywhere at anytime.
According to RNEC, prior to the 1994, certification and selection to high levels of learning were based mainly on schools internal assessment which was characterized by favours based on ethnicity, nepotism, favouritism and total corruption.