Education sector: Events that shaped the year 2018

The State Minister for Primary and Secondary Education, Isaac Munyakazi distributes the exam questionnaires to students during a national exam. Sam Ngendahimana.

As one of the government’s core sectors, education continues to come at the forefront of what the government views as one of the critical areas that will shape the country’s future and help in achieving the 2050 goals.

Below, we bring you some of the highlights in the education sector in the year 2018 that is now drawing towards the end.

Quality awareness campaign

In early February, the Ministry of Education launched the first and the biggest ever quality awareness and enhancement campaign across the country; cutting across all its stakeholders such as local leaders and police.

Over 600 schools were inspected with focus on issues including school drop-out rate, repetition of classes, school management and leadership and efficiency in teaching and learning.

It also focused on school hygiene and sanitation, unplanned pregnancies, drug abuse, practical training to enhance student skills set mainly in vocational schools and higher institutions of learning.

The campaign was run on a quarterly basis and run under the theme “Proper Instructions and Values, a Key to Quality Education.”

As a result, 57 schools were suspended and later reopened after fulfilling the requirements.

Those schools lacked basics such as proper hygiene, misused their capitation grants, failed to feed students and misused ICT materials, among others.

Also, a total of 108 schools including technical and vocational schools and secondary schools were given a chance to fix these issues of face suspension.

The decision will be revisited in January just before the reopening of the schools for a new term.

Students examined based on new curriculum

Three years since its launch, candidates in primary, lower and upper secondary categories were assessed based on the new Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) during national exams.

The curriculum replaced the old curriculum which was knowledge-based and was not matching the needs to cope with the fast developing world economies.

The current curriculum is learner-centered and more interactive, giving the student more time to explore and do their own research thus improving their competence.

Cell phones banned in schools

The Ministry of Education this year outlawed the use of mobile telephones for primary and secondary schools students at school, citing distraction.

The measure was announced in a post-cabinet press conference held at the Prime Minister’s office in Kimihurura that discussed the need for improvement in the use of ICT devices in primary and secondary schools putting emphasis on banning cell phones and developing mechanisms to ensure compliance.

“Mobile telephones distract students and can tempt them into behavior that will affect their future,” said Eugene Mutimura, the minister for education told the press recently.

Mutimura said that the decision was a result of a study conducted by the ministry that revealed that the use of phones at school affects studies as students spend most of their time on them and forget about their core duty of studying.

Major changes at REB

Government early in April dismissed five top managers of Rwanda Education Board (REB) with officials citing failure to implement government policies.

They included Joyce Musabe, who headed the Curriculum, Teaching and Learning Department, Dr Michael Tusiime Rwibasira who was the head of Examinations, Selection and Assessment Department and Peter Mujiji who was the head of Corporate Division.

Others are Francis Karegesa, the Director of Finance and Rutaha Bavaga who was the head of procurement.

The suspects were linked to anomalies in printing of senior six certificates that could unnecessarily take long and wasteful spending through printing those certificates abroad.

REB starts in-house publishing of books, certificates

Following years of having teaching materials written and published from abroad, the government decided to start in-house publishing and Rwanda Education Board (REB) took over the responsibility.

According to officials, in-house publishing has reduced the cost of publication and has made it easier to correct some mistakes that can occur unlike previously when copyrights limited them and required that books are taken back abroad for mistakes to be rectified.

The Director General of REB, Irénée Ndayambaje, told The New Times that 20 subjects had been completed, volumes printed and are already available for use.

The content is written in the Rwandan context whereby tasks and activities of learners are based on the learner’s socio-cultural environment to match the content with real experience.

This year, REB released its first batch of locally printed secondary school certificates including 44,037 certificates for 2017 Senior Six graduates and over a thousand certificates that were supposed to have been awarded between 2010 and 2016 that foreign contractors had failed to deliver.

Ndayambaje said that after many years of relying on foreign printing houses in the United Kingdom, this was a major achievement for REB.

“At one time we had a crisis that lasted eight years where certificates arrived with lots of mistakes and were sent back for correction. It caused a lot of disruptions for students who needed them and we decided to find a long-term solution by introducing in-house production that guarantees ownership, safety, low cost and timely delivery,” he explained.

University of Rwanda relocates campus again

Following the previous restructuring that saw some of campuses’ moved and students transferred, this year also saw another relocation of students leaving over 3,500 students transferred to Huye campus only.

The UR Deputy Vice-Chancellor (UR) in charge of institutional advancement; Dr Charles Muligande, the campus relocations have an objective to balance the distribution of students in the various campuses, especially in Nyagatare and Huye because the two campuses suffered more during programme allocations.

“Even though the University of Rwanda has gone through a bit of turbulence that is expected of any new institution, it is nevertheless delivering on its mission,” said Muligande in an interview early this year.

New TVET trainers’ institute opened

The country’s education system was a beneficiary when the Rwanda Technical and Vocational Education and Training Institute (RTTI) worth Rwf5bn in Kicukiro, Kigali was launched earlier this year.

The institute was constructed in partnership with Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and is expected to equip TVET trainers with academic and class management skills and match them with the labour market, among others.

“The inauguration of TVET Trainer Institute is a boost to the efforts of the government to strengthen technical and vocational education and trainings,” Edouard Ngirente the prime Minister said during the launch.

Expert weighs in

Esperance Uwamaliya is an education expert and Programs Manager at British Council. She says that while the government has done a lot to promote quality education, there is need for all stakeholders to work together to ensure smooth implementation of CBC, a key to quality education.

“Different people have different understanding of what CBC is and how it should be implemented at the classroom level and outside the classroom. All education practitioners needs to have same understanding of the CBC and then they are clear of their role to play at what level. For example teachers need to understand what CBC is and how they translate it to the classroom,” she said

She pointed out that policy makers needs to help teachers by providing and explaining to them a framework of key competences to be developed by students at different levels, to enable teachers to know which activities need to be given to students to develop required skills.

She pointed out that there were still gaps in lack of understanding of the CBC itself calling for a clear and common definition of CBC based on the country context rather than letting it open and be given a meaning which makes it loose the meaning at the end.