From 2017 to January 2024, Rwanda’s education sector has transformed, as a result of the National Strategy for Transformation (NST1). The initiative has produced achievements, ranging from the reduction of overcrowding in schools to improvements in teachers’ well-being and the enhancement of technical schools. Speaking at the 19th National Dialogue Council - Umushyikirano, which commenced on January 23 and will conclude on January 24, Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente highlighted the developments made in education to ensure the delivery of quality education aligned with the NST1 objectives. ALSO READ: Umushyikirano: Kagame challenges youth to take charge of development agenda “In one of NST1’s pillars focusing on the well-being of citizens, we invested in delivering quality education to enable graduates to serve effectively in the marketplace. Among the accomplishments were the mitigation of overcrowding, the reduction of long distances, and the introduction of school feeding programmes,” Ngirente said. He said more than 27,000 new classrooms in six and a half years were constructed, which contributed to the reduction of overcrowded classrooms and the long distances some students had to travel—up to 19 km—to reach school. ALSO READ: Education ministry sheds light on teachers’ pay rise Ngirente highlighted that the number of students in a classroom decreased from 80 in 2017 to 55 in 2023. Technical schools also received a boost, with 563 Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) schools now present nationwide. Out of 416 sectors, 392 have TVET schools. The introduction of B-tech and the upcoming M-tech programmes further set the commitment to promoting technical education. “The expansion of technical schools will enable us to increase the number of general education graduates opting for vocational and technical education,” Ngirente added. The NST1 also focused on enhancing the teaching workforce. The student-teacher ratio in primary schools decreased from 62 students per teacher in 2017 to 57 students per teacher in 2023, a testament to the increased number of qualified teachers. Ngirente also pointed out that there were salary increases in 2022, with primary and secondary school teachers receiving an 88 per cent and 40 per cent salary boost, respectively, based on their qualifications. In line with the pursuit of quality education, a school feeding programme was introduced in primary and secondary schools. Ngirente emphasised that the implementation of school feeding contributed to reducing school dropouts and improving student performance nationwide. “To further support teachers, the government has actively increased the Teacher Cooperative Savings and Credit Cooperative (SACCO) capacity. This initiative aims to provide teachers with loans, empowering them to invest in their development,” he said.