On October 5, Rwanda joined the rest of the world in celebrating the World Teacher’s Day. The main event was held in Rwamagana in Eastern Province.During the celebrations, the Ministry of Education pledged sustained advocacy to ensure teachers get more incentives; inorder to improve their welfare, which according to ministry will result into quality education.
Speaking from Nyanza where the day was marked at the level of Southern Province, Samuel Mulindwa, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, said that in the 2018/19 fiscal year, more incentives would be provided to teachers, and these will be expanded annually if everything goes according to plan.
He said that such incentives and the rewarding of teachers for their commitment is a sign that a teacher is very valued in Rwanda because of the role they play towards the country’s development.
In an interview with New Times, Rose Bagum, the Director General of Education Planning at the Ministry of Education, assured the teachers that the Government will keep doing all it can to ensure their welfare is improved and continue to build their capacity.
She revealed that Government has already approved Rwf6.7 billion meant for horizontal promotion of teachers and Rwf2.2 billion for bonuses, urging schools to apply for both funds.
Mwalimu Sacco, teacher savings and credit cooperative, rewarding best teachers, horizontal and vertical promotions are just some of existing initiatives put in place to support teachers.
What teachers think should be done
Education Timessought views from different teachers on what they think should be done or improved and many share their thoughts and opinions.
Diogene Twagirayezu, a secondary school teacher in Southern Province, says the Government has so far done a lot when it comes to improving the welfare of the teachers; however, there are some areas that need to be looked at.
For instance, he notes that just like in military and police, the ministry should put into consideration teachers’ discount shops, which will see them reduce spending on their already strained salaries.
He says that these are the important things the Government should consider as far as trying to improve teachers’ anality of life is concerned.
“Things are not getting easy and the more years in this profession the more things get tighter. This is because the cost of living keeps on hiking day after day,” he says.
Another important aspect the ministry should consider, Twagirayezu says, is reducing the interest rate of the loans offered by Umwalimu SACCO (a teachers’ savings and credit cooperative).
He says, the current interest rate of 11 per cent is not too high, but because of their income which is low, depending on the category a teacher is in, bringing it down to less than 10 per cent will do them good.
Jean d’Amour Niyigema, a Languages teacher at GS Rwiri,Ngorero District in Western Province, says there is still a problem when it comes to access to ICT, especially for those in the rural areas.
He argues that the ministry should look into this so that all teachers are at the same pace as far as getting knowledge in new technology is concerned.
On the other hand, Niyigena reveals that there is still a big challenge, especially in both written and spoken English.
He says that working on providing more time for teachers to learn the language is important, adding that some teachers still have a problem in this area and yet the language is supposed to be used as a medium of instruction.
He also suggests that the Government should change or provide competent school leaders.
“Because the system has changed from knowledge based curriculum to competency based curriculum, there are some heads of schools who are not competent enough to shift and are still holding on to the old system,” he says.
Claudine Nyirasafiri, a teacher in Eastern Province, says she appreciates incentives the Government has put in place so far.
However, she points out that when it comes to some of them, like bonuses, which results from a teacher’s annual performance evaluation, they are delayed.
“Working on this will be vital because it will ease our work and we don’t have to keep on waiting for long. Giving them out on time will help us concentrate on other things as far as providing knowledge to students is concerned,” she says.
Because increasing teachers’ salary is not something that can happen once or immediately, Enock Mugisha, a teacher at GS Ruramba in Nyaruguru District, Southern Province, says there are some things that could be looked into to improve the quality of education teachers deliver as well as their welfare .
For example, he notes that the ministry, if possible should find a way of catering for the teachers’ children in terms of covering their school fees.
He says it shouldn’t happen to all the children a certain teacher has, but taking care of a few of them can be helpful.
“When we look at the school fees we are paying for the children and the salary we are getting, it doesn’t match at all, and, to some, school fees is far higher than the salary they get, especially if you have more than one child,” she observes.
Laurent Nishyirembere, a parent and high school teacher, says that parents should be willing to work closely with teachers; so that they can as well offer help where needed, especially when it comes to petty issues, that may require a parent to chip in with some little cash.
He believes that there are things that can’t be catered for by the Ministry of Education, and at some point parents will be involved.
“It’s all about students benefiting and a parent being reluctant when it comes to such issues only complicates things, especially on the teacher’s side,” he says.
He, however, adds that confirming and making inquiries on what is needed and for what purpose is important. Parents should take a step in doing so to ensure there is proper understanding between the two parties.
Juliet Mbabazi, a parent from Kigali, on the other hand, believes that for a teacher to deliver effectively, their minds have to be at peace.
She adds that one cannot be in the right state of mind if they haven’t paid their bills.
“I think working on the exisisting and the coming incentives for teachers is important. Because we trust the teachers so much with our children, providing conducive environment for them can help,” she says.
She adds that it’s sad when parents expect teachers to do everything as far as molding their children to grow into responsible adults is concerned, while they (parents) are busy all the time, in search for money.
She wonders how a teacher who is stressed is able to provide not only quality education, but also bring about a positive impact in their students’ lives. To ensure all these are met, she says parents need to work closely with teachers.