The Catholic Church has alleged that studying during the dry season slows down children’s learning and suggested a need to revisit the school calendar.
Bishop Philip Rukamba, the Bishop of Butare Diocese and the President of the Catholic Episcopal Conference, made the call last week while closing the Catholic Education Week in Kigali.
Currently schools start in January and end in November and students have long holidays until January.
The system started in 2005 when the government wanted to align its calendar with other East African Community countries. Previously, the school year began in September and ended in July.
“We want to request again that the school calendar can be revisited as it affects students and parents. Learning in the dry season is particularly associated with various serious problems,” he claimed.
This is not the first time church leaders request the government to review the school calendar. Early last year, during the National dialogue in Kigali, the Bishop of Byumba Diocese, Silverien Nzakamwita, had also old told top government officials that the fact that primary and secondary students study in dry season was a serious issue.
Clerics urge that July and August and September are months where it is too hot for students to concentrate on studies while the long holidays start end in October and almost stretches to beginning of January.
Besides studies, he added that there is water shortage in some areas and students are required to first fetch water hence delaying to attend classes. The bishop’s suggestion was considered and featured in dialogues ’recommendations.
According to Eugène Mutimura, the Minister of Education, the issue is known and the government has started looking into it and would soon engage stakeholders to discuss the way forward.
“It was one of the main topics we discussed in the retreat with top officials (this month), we will soon invite stakeholders to discuss the way forward,” he said without giving details on how it will be done.
Teachers and heads of schools have backed the Catholic Church’s request saying that revising the school calendar would favour not only students but also teachers while it will also improve the quality of education.
Emmanuel Karekezi, the headteacher at GS Muhura in Gatsibo District, said it would bring about positive impact on studies while it can make it easier for teachers to dispense lessons well.
“ The academic year should end in June and we resume in September other than ending in November to resume in January, this would have no negative impact on studies but students would have holidays in long dry spells unlike currently when they study,” Karekezi said
The Church runs over 1,360 primary and secondary schools accounting for 30percent of all the students countrywide.