40% expected to attend pre-primary school by 2024

State Minister for Primary and Secondary Education, Isaac Munyakazi, addresses the parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, ICT, Culture and Youth last week. / Sam Ngendahimana

40 per cent of children in Rwanda will be attending pre-primary school by 2024, officials from the Education Ministry have said.

State Minister for Primary and Secondary Education, Isaac Munyakazi, explained that the move aims at improving quality education considering that children who study pre-primary school perform well in the following levels.

“We have realised that the repetition rate in primary school is high among children who never attended pre-primary school. Due to such high repetition and school drop-out rates, the enrollment rate in secondary schools is low at 34 per cent,” he said.

He noted that investment in early childhood education will improve children’s performance in other levels and thus boost human capital development.

“In Teacher Training Colleges, there are combination subjects to release specialized teachers for early childhood education up to primary three. We are going to build 40 demonstration primary schools where graduates from Teacher Training Colleges can go for practice,” he said

From pre-primary school P1, P2, P3 must use Kinyarwanda as a language of instruction. However, he noted that some private schools were reluctant to implement the policy.

“Private schools should abide by the policy to use Kinyarwanda as a language of instruction in lower primary school and use other languages later. We are going to invite school owners and parents and enforce a medium language of instruction. We are going to increase efforts in enforcement and impose punishment if necessary,” he said.

Increasing classrooms

The state minister added that government is gradually increasing classrooms for pre-primary schools in partnership with other stakeholders.

“We are partnering with stakeholders to increase number of such classrooms. For instance faith-based organisations have pledged to construct 1,100 pre-primary classrooms and they have so far completed 443 of them. We are supporting them in terms of teacher training and equipment. That will increase the number of children going to pre-primary education,” he said.

The official said that every fiscal year, the ministry has to set aside a budget to construct at least one classroom for pre-primary education at every school.

As pre-primary, primary and secondary schools get more students, plans are underway to increase classrooms.

Currently there is an average of between 75 and 100 children in a classroom in primary schools while they should be between 46 and 50 children as recommended by international education standards.

The government recently got $200 million support from World Bank to construct 11,000 classrooms and 11,600 toilets in three phases.

“Under the first phase, we will construct 2,706 classrooms with 62,238 school desks,1,084 toilets all which will eliminate double shifts from P4 to P5 and thus reduce student congestion in classrooms,” he said.

He added that they had also reserved a budget to build 1,150 classrooms and about 1,100 toilets this fiscal year.

“Over 122,680 metallic desks will be supplied to reduce congestion.

The efforts, according to the state minister will reduce students’ congestion in class by 60 per cent and phase out the issue in the next three or four years.

Supplying enough books

Local production of textbooks will ensure that each child gets a book in class

“The cost that could produce one book outside can now produce three books locally. This will ensure that every child uses their own book inclass.

Former publishers also gave us copyright to photocopy about 120 book titles and 46 books titles are being duplicated for Teacher Training Colleges students,” he said.

Munyakazi said that in order to build basic level from P1 to P3 School, all Kinyarwanda language books are available.

“We have produced over 1.3 million books and now every child has their own book. It started with Kinyarwanda language. But for English language in P2 and P3, each of 229, 560 children has their own book and next year all those in P1 will also be catered for,” he said.

He noted that the quality of teachers with pedagogical skills in primary school is at 98.6 per cent while in secondary schools it is at 76 per cent. He said by 2020 all unqualified teachers in secondary schools will be no more.