Covid-19: Private schools urged to leverage recovery fund

A teacher helps students during an exercise in 20 February 2020 .Teachers in private schools are complaining of having been laid off by their employers after government closed schools until September. Sam Ngendahimana

The Minister of education, Valentine Uwamariya has urged private schools including Higher Learning Institutions to leverage the national recovery fund so as to keep teachers on the payroll amid Covid-19 crisis.

She was speaking to The New Times while commenting on the situation where teachers mainly in private schools are complaining of having been laid off by their employers after government closed schools until September.

 

The government is to roll out a special economic recovery fund estimated at over $200 million (approximately Rwf186bn) aimed at supporting local businesses that are hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Among the hardest hit businesses include private schools.

 

Minister Uwamariya said that there are challenges faced by Higher Learning Institutions during lockdown but they can seek ways to cope.

“Many schools started firing their staff due to financial constraints because they would not be able to pay staff salaries up to September 2020. However, this is not the right approach; they should instead apply for the appropriate relief package as businesses from the government’s economic recovery plan to cater for the welfare of their staff,” she said.

She urged higher learning institutions to diversify source of funds to support operations once schools re-open in September, 2020.

However, she noted there are criteria to resume operations in September, saying institutions will be vetted on financial sustainability before they can be allowed to reopen.

“Any Higher Learning Institution without clear financial sustainability will not be allowed to resume operations until it proves to be financially sustainable to offer quality education,” she said.

Strict rules on online-distance-learning

Meanwhile, the Minister told The New Times that universities that had taken online learning support as an alternative to ordinary teaching and learning model have been warned.

“Online support is not alternative to normal teaching. Some institutions wanted to take as normal mode of teaching and charge tuition. They will continue to provide online support to students up to September without charging any fees waiting for normal teaching and learning mode to resume,” she explained.

She explained that students do not have equal access to online system and therefore online support can’t replace normal teaching.

This, she said, is because most of institutions lack ICT tools and adequate internet connectivity while others are not conversant with the use of e-learning platforms due to lack of training.

She said that for any institution to operate a fully-fledged online distance-learning model as an alternative to normal teaching and learning should apply for accreditation.

She noted that only few universities that were already running online models like Oklahoma Christian University in Rwanda, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and Kepler have such accreditation.

“Even University of Rwanda has not yet got such accreditation and therefore it is not allowed to take online support as an alternative to normal teaching. Such accreditation means that a university teaches, examines and provide degrees without using the physical model of teaching,” she said.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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