Head teachers, education leaders and local government officials have declared that no matter the age of the student, there should never be sexual relationship between the teacher and students.
As Rwanda’s fight against underage girls’ pregnancies continues, it was identified that teacher-student sexual relationship is a matter that needs urgent attention to.
There are some cases where teachers had sexual relationship with their female students in primary or secondary schools, which led to pregnancies, however, sometimes these culprits are let off due to legal loopholes.
At Akayange Primary School in Nyagatare District, an English teacher was recently arrested after spending two days with his student who had just completed her national primary leaving examinations.
Emmanuel Kanyarutoki, the headteacher at the school, who said that he had done everything possible to prevent sexual abuse in his school, said the errant teacher had been put in custody.
He however said he was afraid the suspect would be let off because the student in question has attained the majority age of 18.
Speaking at provincial education meeting held in Kayonza, Eastern Province Governor Fred Mufulukye warned that there have been many similar cases cross the province, and urged concerted efforts to fight it.
Mufulukye recalled a case where a teacher defiled and impregnated a teenage girl, who a few days later turned 18, he then “tricked” the girl to come and say that the act happened with her consent and they are husband and wife today.
In Kayonza District, there was the similar case Governor Mufulukye said he followed up himself; the teacher who did it was arrested, but released early because the teen girl had just turned 18.
Mufulukye argued that teachers should conduct themselves like teachers.
“Even though the girl is 18 or 20, she is a student you have to look after, the girl needs to continue her studies to achieve something in her life,” he said.
Abuse of power
Hubert Rutaro, Rwanda Investigation Bureau commander in Eastern Province, said that much as there have been such cases of teachers being releasing after it is established that the affected student is of majority age, there is criminal liability on the part of that teacher.
He said it is a special case with teachers and school leaders because students are their charges so there is an element of abuse of that position of authority.
Rutaro said they are going to engage prosecution, and school leaders, such that this problem will be addressed accordingly.
Benjamin M. Kageruka, Head of Education Quality Assurance Department at Ministry of Education, said that a big problem lies with school administrators.
“All the cases we have identified, none of them was reported by a head of school, it is only known when RIB gets involved, or from our inspections; this means that if the schools took ownership, reported on time, reprimanded the teachers, the issue would be alleviated,” he said.
Brother Camille Rudasingwa, the headteacher of Groupe Scolaire Saint Aloys in Rwamagana District, said no “genuine” teacher should have such relationship with student, whether she is under 18 or beyond.
“It is extremely disgraceful to be an educator, and then sexually abuse your student, it means that you are not a parent, we are actually called parents, if you are a parent, educating for the country and for God, and then you go ahead and abuse the child, that is just disgraceful.
“At my school, I have told my teachers and made it clear to students that the moment a teacher makes any sort of questionable advances towards them, they should immediately report and action will be taken.”
New teachers’ statute
According to Irenee Ndayambaje, the Director-General of REB, they are working on a teachers’ statute will prescribe special sanctions for teachers who get involved in sexual relationships with their students.
“The statute was submitted to the cabinet in November last year, it will soon be passed and published in the Official Gazette,” he said.
According to Ministry of Health's figures, more than 7,000 teen girls in Eastern Province were impregnated in 2018, with Nyagatare alone counting 1,465 cases, the highest of the country.
Four of the top five districts in teen pregnancies in the country were from the province.Follow DeDiosNsabimana