Competency-based O-Level exams delayed

Students sit national examinations in Rwamagana last year. File.

The Ministry of Education has postponed to next academic year the rollout of new O-Level examinations that are based on competency-based curriculum, a move officials attribute to lack of preparedness.

The changes were set to see the number of examinable subjects increase.

Some of the textbooks that were delayed to be availed include those for French, Swahili and ICT subjects.

According to Eugene Mutimura, the Minister for Education, it is not practical to roll out the new exams this academic year, especially because schools were unable to receive competency-based curriculum textbooks on time.

In 2016, the Ministry of Education launched the competency-based curriculum to help improve quality of education and subsequently result in graduates with skills that respond to the needs of the global labour market.

The recently rolled out curriculum include new subjects like Swahili, while it also introduces changes in a number of other subjects. 

It had initially been planned that some of the new subjects would be introduced in O-Level national exams in the 2018 academic year. 

“We are going to do everything possible to ensure that additional subjects under the competency-based curriculum are done in examinations next year,” he said.

Mutimura said the subjects are currently being taught in schools but not adequately, since many textbooks were not available on time.

“There are many textbooks designed under the new curriculum which ought to be in schools already but they are not there yet. These books have not been written by Rwandans, which is too costly,” he said, blaming recently dismissed officials at Rwanda Education Board for the anomalies.

Five senior REB officials were relieved of their duties and Mutimura says they were sacked for, among others, failure to implement the competency-based curriculum as required.

“People should be held accountable when they fail to do what they are supposed to do,” he said.

Theogene Manirakiza, a languages teacher at Groupe Scolaire Rwamiko/Mata in Nyaruguru District, said the main challenge they face in the implementation of the new curriculum is lack of the materials like textbooks and computers.

“They launched new curriculum but didn’t give us the requisite materials to implement it.  It is only recently that we received textbooks and then these were for Senior One only,” Manirakiza said.

Manirakiza said the ministry should focus on distributing enough training equipment to all schools before launching new curricula or subjects.

Ariane Benituze, 15, a Senior Three candidate at Groupe Scolaire Cyahafi in Nyarugenge District, told The New Times that she and her classmates were not ready for the new exams, especially in French and Kiswahili, due to shortage of textbooks.

“We study French and Kiswahili using primary school textbooks. There is a shortage of secondary school textbooks for these languages. We are not ready to be examined in these subjects.”


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