The government has made two major decisions in the public education sector in six weeks. First, early last month, it announced significant pay raises for teachers (88 per cent for primary teachers and 40 per cent for teachers with higher qualifications), and then earlier this week it released harmonised fees structures for public and government-aided pre-primary, primary, secondary and TVET schools. Learners in pre-primary and primary schools will pay Rwf975 effective next academic year – which begins later this month – while day-scholars in secondary and TVET schools will pay Rwf19, 500 each, with those in boarding required to pay a maximum of Rwf85, 000. For many schools, the newly harmonised fees represent a substantial reduction in what parents used to cough up. For instance, at Lycée de Kigali, a day-scholar used to pay Rwf86, 000 a term, with those in boarding parting with Rwf128, 000. In this case, parents will pay 77.4 per cent and 33.6 per cent less, respectively. In the same vein, public and government-aided schools have been barred from introducing prohibitive extra costs, capping any such possibility to a maximum of Rwf7, 000 a term per learner, while schools that charge for dormitory mattresses shall not receive more than Rwf9000 over a period of three years. Notably, fees have been harmonised across both the classic education system and the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) wing, which is generally more expensive due to the cost of training equipment and consumables. This should hopefully encourage greater uptake of TVET courses. Now, basic education in Rwanda is essentially free and the small contribution required of parents with children in pre-primary and primary education is meant for the school-based feeding scheme. The feeding programme is a vital component of education because it allows for learners to concentrate in class, while it helps fight malnutrition and stunting – a pressing challenge facing many children from poor backgrounds. That should eventually result in major wins that could mean a lot in terms of multiplier effect for generations to come. In all this, parents, just like learners themselves, are winners. The pro-poor decision, informed by a survey, comes at a time many households are struggling to meet the rising cost of living and it’ll offer them a form of respite with schools due to re-open in about 10 days. Add happier faces of teaching and learning support staff and next academic year will almost certainly be ushered in with broad smiles all round. And, in the grand scheme of things, such pro-poor policies are an enabler of the government’s ‘leave no one behind’ agenda.