Rwandans and friends of Rwanda on April 7th commemorated 25 years since the Genocide against the Tutsi that took the lives of over 1 million of our compatriots. The Genocide was the culmination of a policy of discrimination against the Tutsi during the colonial and post-colonial period.
The introduction of identity cards by Belgian authorities in 1933, categorically established each individual’s ‘ethnicity’ and promoted the notion that ethnic difference was an important consideration in Rwandan society. The ID cards were used to identify Tutsi children in classes and discriminate against them when releasing exam results. These cards subsequently facilitated the widespread exclusion of Tutsi from schools and workplaces and were used by genocide perpetrators in 1994 to identify their victims, to the extent that they served as death warrants.
Enrollment in schools
In 1990/91 there were 1,671 primary schools with 1,030, 579 students; 175 secondary schools with 26,521 students; and 7 tertiary institutions with 3,010 students. Until 1994, access to education was limited and orchestrated by racism and regionalism and the transition from primary to secondary education was not driven by actual academic performance. This environment facilitated the dissemination of genocide ideology.
In the aftermath of the Genocide there were 1,283 primary schools with 820,232 students and only 10 secondary schools with 3,077 students. The Government of National Unity and Reconciliation dedicated resources, human and financial, to develop the education sector and ensure that appropriate skills are acquired and responsible and patriotic citizens are nurtured. Access to education was widened and support to needy and vulnerable children was granted.
Center of Excellence in ICT.
By 1998/99 the number of primary schools had increased to 2,021, a 57.5% increase; with 1,288,617 students, a 57.1% increase; there were 322 secondary schools, 32 times more secondary schools; with 105,262 students, 34 times more students; and 8 tertiary institutions with 3,045 students.
Before 1994, Nursery schools were almost inexistent. The continued investment in the education sector led to the existence of 3,210 pre-primary schools with 226,706 students in 2018.
There are now over 2,900 primary schools, a 44% increase from 98/99; with more than 2,500,000 students, a 95% increase; in excess of 1,700 secondary schools, 4-5 times more secondary schools; with more than 655,000 students, 5-6times more students; there 360 Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Centers with more than 102,000 students; 40 tertiary institutions, 4-5 times more tertiary institutions; with over 90,000 students, 29 times more students; and close to 5,000 Adult Literacy Centers with over 132,000 learners.
This impressive progress is the result of a visionary approach to policy formulation and good governance in facilitation and implementation. According to the Minister of Education, Dr Eugene Mutimura, “The education sector commits to ensure access, quality of education and relevance. We will: (a) ensure that children go to school and remain in school by fighting against student drop outs, (b) ensure better learning opportunities by increasing teaching and learning resources and reducing overcrowding in classrooms, (c) improve teacher training, recruitment, and management and (d) harness learning outcomes through the use of ICT, comprehensive assessments and classroom instructional supervision.” The Ministry has adopted innovations in the different sub-sectors to ensure that expected and desired outcomes are achieved.
Innovations in Basic Education:
One Laptop per Child
The One Laptop per Child (OLPC) is one of the innovative projects adopted in basic education to enhance education through the introduction of technology in primary schools. The OLPC project uses the XO laptop which is a potent learning tool designed and built especially for children. It has enabled students to learn by doing through graphically rich, animated, interactive digital courses and gaming.
The Government, through the Ministry of Education, has been distributing OLPC laptops to primary school students since 2009. Over 280,000 laptops have been distributed in schools across the country. The children of Rwanda are the country’s most precious natural resource. By investing in children’s education the government is investing in the future not the present. The XO laptops provide the children a window to the world and access to an education that will enable them develop into citizens capable of transforming their own society and ready to compete in a 21st century economy.
Smart Classrooms are being introduced in schools to bring 21st century education systems to Rwanda, through the inclusion of new, relevant and ICT-based technologies. The Smart Classroom is available in Primary, Secondary, Higher Education and TVET. They facilitate the smooth integration of teaching and learning at all levels. More than 1,400 Smart Classrooms across the country have been set up to improve the quality of teaching and learning.
Rwanda Climate Observatory.
Rwanda’s Vision for ICT in Education is: “To harness the innovative and cost-effective potential of world-class educational technology tools and resources, for knowledge creation and deepening, to push the boundaries of education, improve quality, increase access, enhance diversity of learning methods and materials, include new categories of learners, foster both communication and collaboration skills, and build the capacity of all those involved in providing education”.
Africa Digital Media Academy
Africa Digital Media Academy (ADMA) is a vocational training program in Kigali, Rwanda, that is the first of its kind in Africa. It provides students with the skills necessary to work in all areas of the digital media industry with the same degree of talent and resources as anywhere else in the world. The Government established ADMA through the Workforce Development Authority (WDA) in partnership with Pixel Corporation, a world class multimedia company based in the U.S.A.
Rwanda Coding Academy
Rwanda Coding Academy is a model school that aims to produce, in a more sustainable manner, a pool of top-end experts in the field of software engineering in order to address the current shortage of software developers in the Rwandan market and the region.
Rwanda Coding Academy.
The school is an outcome of the recommendations of the Rwanda Digital Talent Policy approved by the Cabinet in April 2018.
Innovations in Higher Education:
Rwanda Climate Observatory
The Rwanda Climate Observatory is a joint project between Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Ministry of Education. The project seeks to increase the scientific understanding of climate changing emissions in East Africa. Currently, there is a large gap in data and understanding of greenhouse gas and air pollution emissions on the African continent and low scientific capacity to make and analyze these measurements. The Rwanda-MIT Climate Observatory seeks to fill this gap.
Center of Excellence in ICT
In 2007, following the Connect Africa Summit, a tri-partite partnership was established between the Government of Rwanda (GoR), Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), and the African Development Bank (AfDB) to establish a Regional ICT Centre of Excellence (CoE). Funding from the AfDB supported the construction and equipping. In September 2011 an agreement was signed between GoR and CMU to establish and operate a CMU campus in Rwanda. The CoE will have a significant impact on the development of the ICT sector and thus improve delivery of social services such as health, education and public services.
Innovations in TVET:
Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) is seen as the main engine to support skills acquisition and employment generation for youth especially through the development of small and medium enterprises. The Workforce Development Authority was established to oversee the implementation of the TVET Policy and Rwanda’s ambitious target of creating 200,000 off- farm jobs every year.
Smart Energy Saving Hybrid System
In supplementing the priority of the Government of Rwanda of providing 100% electricity access by 2024, Integrated Polytechnic Regional Center- Tumba has designed a hybrid system that combines power from utility grid and off-grid (solar system). The hybrid system has a solar power part with the capacity to generate 800 Watts and it has the capacity to supply electricity to 2 families in rural Rwanda. For families living in urban areas with access to electricity, the system can combine grid power and solar power, always using solar first.
Solar energy will contribute 85% of total consumption and thus drastically reduces the cost of electricity. This system is equipped with two solar panels, one battery bank, solar charger controller and inverter.
There are 31 institutions of higher education in Rwanda, 3 public and 28 private. Public universities include the University of Rwanda with 6 Colleges, Rwanda Polytechnic, and the Institute of Legal Practice and Development (ILPD).
Private universities include African Institute of Mathematical Sciences, the African Leadership University (ALU), University of Kigali, Adventist University of Central and East Africa (AUCA), Akilah Institute for Women, Kigali (AIWK), Carnegie-Mellon University Africa, Christian University of Rwanda, East African University-Rwanda, Premier Early Childhood Teachers Development College and the Univesity of Global Health Equity.
Rwanda Polytechnic has 8 Integrated Polytechnic Regional Centers-Tumba, Kigali, Gishari, Ngoma, Huye, Kitabi, Karongi and Musanze.
The University of Rwanda has a 30,000 strong student and staff community, 10 campuses and 270 programs with over 2,815 modules. The University of Rwanda has 222 PhDs and 1,300 Masters students and has witnessed an increase in professorial staff - 42 in the last 5 years including 8 women. The University of Rwanda includes the College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine (CAVM); College of Business and Economics (CBE); College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS), College of Education (CE); College of Medicine and Health Sciences (CMHS) and the College of Science and Technology (CST).
Contribution of the University of Rwanda:
The University of Rwanda(UR), through the College of Medicine and Health Sciences, has entered into partnerships with foreign universities to enhance the capacity of the Health sector. With the University of Western Ontario, Canada, to establish a long-term collaborative relationship in order to develop a sustainable, cost-effective model of delivering training, support and access (TSAM) for Continuing Professional Development in Maternal, Newborn and Child health in Rwanda. Besides, collaboration exists with Artevelde University College of Ghent, Department of Midwifery /Nursing, to promote and cooperate in the field of research to strengthen the capacity of Hospital /Practicum site in providing Clinical training to UR, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, and Artevelde University College of Ghent Department of Midwifery /Nursing.
UR with Hamamastu University School of Medicine, Japan collaborates to strengthen academic and research exchange between UR, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, and Hamamastu University School of Medicine. The College of Science and Technology is committed to advancing Rwanda’s development by graduating highly skilled people for the country’s economy and by providing scientific and technological assistance and services to all sections of the community. Their vision is to become a Center of Excellence in Science and Technology education, comparable in standard to the very best in the world.
The School of Education is one of the three Schools of the College of Education at UR. The School of Education offers the ultimate opportunity to aspiring teachers and educational professionals in Rwanda, the region and beyond. It distinguishes itself through cutting edge innovative research, teaching and learning, and community service. The primary responsibility of the School of Education is to prepare highly qualified teachers, school administrators and counsellors ranging from undergraduate to graduate levels. UR contributes to Higher Education in terms of quality enhancement by providing Postgraduate training (Masters and PhD) for staff in Higher Learning Institutions through the Centre for Post Graduate Studies. The University of Rwanda is ranked in the top 7% of universities in Africa and in the top 30% of universities in the world (Web of Universities Rankings of 2017). Given the number of Centers of Excellence in teaching and research, the increasing trend of peer reviewed publications; and the continued use of technology in handling both academic and administrative matters, this will increase the university’s global visibility and rise in rankings.
The continued wise investments by the Government, through the Ministry of Education, has ensured that Rwanda is well-poised to reap the tremendous benefits of a non-discriminatory, progressive and innovative approach to education and life-long learning.