The Ministry of Education (Mineduc) has this week started implementing a plan that will see 22,505 classrooms completed in all 30 districts of the country by September this year.
The schools will help curb overcrowding and long distances travelled by students going to and returning from schools.
According to Mineduc, the construction plan will be covered by both the Government with a contribution worth Rwf86 billion, as well as the World Bank’s credit financing worth US$200 million (around Rwf180 billion) that was signed last year.
However, only US$126 million is reserved for the component of reducing overcrowding, the rest of the funds from the world bank are allocated to other activities like training of teachers and construction of TTC schools.
This construction project, according to Minister of Education, Dr Valentine Uwamariya, will tackle the overcrowding challenge, especially in primary schools.
“So far we have a total of 3,600,000 students, of whom 500,000 belong to primary one. This number is expected to increase by September when we will be receiving both already registered students and newcomers. On this note, this construction project will help us reduce overcrowding in schools especially in primary,” she told The New Times.
The government recently shifted the beginning of the academic year to September from January following the prolonged school closure due to COVID-19 effects.
Of the total 22,505 classrooms, 17,414 will be for primary schools, 3,591 for secondary schools and remaining 1,500 classrooms will be for nursery schools.
Districts to receive many classrooms include Nyagatare where 1,240 classrooms will be constructed, Rubavu districts (1,201 classrooms), Gatsibo district (1,193 classrooms) and Gasabo district (1,074 classrooms) among others.
Call for solidarity
The government’s input in the construction plan will be played through community-based approach, which, according to Minister Uwamariya, requires more solidarity from the public.
“As we did since 2014 in various construction projects, we are going to use our home-grown solutions where every citizen can give a helping hand on near-by construction sites, we will need everyone’s efforts in this regard,” she told The New Times.
She added that: “This method is cost-efficient and does not compromise the quality of the infrastructure.”
The project will also see 31,932 latrines constructed across the country.
Covid-19 kept in mind
According to Minister Uwamariya, the Ministry has put into consideration that projecting the end of Covid-19 is almost impossible, hence planning for ways to mitigate its spread when schools will be opened in September.
She said: “We have already sent a proposal to Global Education Partnership, requesting for a loan worth USD 10 million which will be used in purchasing hygiene equipment to be distributed in schools by September to prevent the spread of Covid-19.”
So far, no formal academic calendar has been issued. What is certain is that the academic year will be starting in September and end by June.
Having confirmed her first Covid-19 case in March, Rwanda is among countries worldwide whose education sector has been put on hold for the meantime.