Education minister to be summoned by parliament

A teacher helps students during a team work at Collège St André in Nyarugenge District. / Photo: Dan Nsengiyumva.

The Parliament has resolved to summon the Minister of Education to give explanations for pressing problems that have persistently been hampering the quality of education in the country.

The legislators adopted the resolution during a plenary sitting on Friday, June 12, 2020 while approving the report by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, ICT, Culture and Youth.

 

The report was based on the assessment tours that the Committee made from February 03 to 14, 2020 in provinces and the City of Kigali to evaluate and monitor issues in education.

 

The issues include delays in recruitment and placement of teachers in public and government-aided primary and secondary schools.

 

The Committee said that this problem is most prevalent at the beginning of every academic year which renders some schools unable to cover all the courses in academic programmes.

“In the districts we visited, we found that 1,414 [needed] teachers had not yet been taken on by the time of our inspection,” said MP Damien Nyabyenda, the Committee Chairperson.

There is also overcrowding in classrooms in districts across the country where some schools have 120 students per a teacher, though the Government has moved to construct more classrooms expected to lessen the problem.  

This high students-teacher ratio makes a teacher unable to effectively assist every student, with some reaching primary six with inadequate knowledge about writing words in their mother tongue.

Also, under twelve year basic education programme, some students make long distances to attend classes which parliamentarians said was affecting their schooling and needs to be addressed.

Other identified problems include automatic promotion in schools in which students are promoted to upper classes without merit or good performance, and insufficient books whereby in some cases one book is shared by eight students.

The assessment by parliamentarians also pointed to school dropout, which is threatening universal basic education.

The report showed that some schools which offer science programmes have no laboratories, while others have them but they lack the required equipment.

MP Emmanuel Ndoriyobijya said that lack of enough books, and laboratory experiments is a serious concern for students and hinders the implementation of the competence-based curriculum.

“A student can spend three years studying chemistry, but, they do not have exposure to laboratory equipment. That might even affect the performance of that student in the national examinations,” he said.

Also, the legislators observed, the smart classroom plan is not being implemented in all schools, and lack of internet connection in some schools. The lawmakers contended that such a state is impeding ICT in education programme.

Medium of instruction changes

The Minister has also to give explanations about the ministerial statement of December 2019 which is in contraction with the ministerial order of 2016 determining courses, timetable and medium of instruction in primary and secondary schools.

Parliamentarians said it was observed that private schools defy the policy which ordered schools to use Kinyarwanda as a medium of instruction up to primary three, as some adopted English or French instead.

Differences in school fees

The lawmakers’ assessment also exposed a high disparity between school fees in public and government-aided establishments, which they said can be a burden to some parents, yet, in some cases, the difference in fees is not commensurate with the outcome.

MP Nyabyenda said that the fees range from Rwf65,000 and Rwf180,000 per term.

“The difference is big. That is why we want responsible institutions to carefully address the issue as it makes some parents unable to afford the cost of education offered by some schools, yet their children fulfill academic requirements,” he said.

Concerns in school feeding

The report revealed that school feeding programme is underfunded, especially in the nine and 12 year basic education, hence affecting provision of nutritious meals to students.

Therefore, the parliament decided that the Minister of Education should establish instructions which clearly explain the contribution of parents to school feeding programme in nine and 12 years basic education, and what has to be done in case a parent has not played their part.

MP Nyabyenda said that, it was found out that only about 49 percent of parents contribute to school feeding for their children, leaving over 50 percent gap.

Faced with very limited funding to school feeding, schools sometimes resort to sharing the available resources to all the students, which adversely affects the provision of enough and nutritious meals to students.

But, parliamentarians expressed worries that some students go without food because they did not make contributions; a situation they said can have a negative impact on their performance in class, psychological behaviour, and relationship between students.

MP Jeanne d’Arc Uwimanimpaye said that issues facing the education sector have taken too long to solve.

“As parliament, we should focus on accountability so that these problems in education get tackled,” she said.

entirenganya@newtimesrwanda.com

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