Private Sector urged to support government efforts to increase classrooms

Languide Nyirabahire, Vice Mayor in charge of Social Affairs at Gasabo District speaks to media after handover of a two-classroom block at Nyacyonga Primary School. Courtesy.

Private Sector players have been encouraged to support government efforts to increase the number of classrooms needed to cut congestion and children studying in shifts.

Despite recent efforts by government and citizens to build classrooms required to support the 12 year basic education programme, a huge shortage of classrooms remains, which has affected plans to phase out double shifts.

According to the Vice Mayor in charge of Social Affairs at Gasabo District, Languide Nyirabahire, primary and secondary schools in the City of Kigali are struggling with huge numbers of students and limited classrooms to support the phasing out of double shifts but with the support of the private sector, more classrooms can be built.

Speaking on Friday at the handover of a two-classroom block at Nyacyonga Primary School, Jabana Sector, Gasabo district, which was constructed by Hima Cement Rwanda, Nyirabahire said that while the government has over the last 8 years tripled the number of classrooms needed, a shortage remains and private sector players can help address it.

“It is not the duty of the government alone to address this challenge. We have in the past worked with the citizens to build as many classes as possible during Umuganda but we also need more players to support this cause,”

“We want to see our children study in a good enabling environment and we think if Private Sector players emulated Hima Cement Rwanda we would have this shortage of classroom addressed. We all know that the government has many priorities and it is everybody’s role to support,” Nyirabahire said.

According to Jumoke Adegunle, the General Manager, Hima Cement Rwanda, the cement producer invested close to Rwf50m in the classroom block which will be accommodating at least 120 pupils daily.

“We are members of Nyacyonga community. That is why we picked this school. We aspire to continue contributing to Rwanda’s development in the education, infrastructure, environment and health sectors,” Adegunle said.

She said the project is one of the many projects the cement producer which has been operating in Rwanda has for the last 20 years, is working on with different stakeholders.

She said very soon Hima Cement Rwanda will announce another project they are working on with Workforce Development Agency (WDA) among other projects under their social responsibility programmes.

According Sosthene Kubwimana, the headmaster of Nyacyonga Primary School, the school has 624 students but has a shortage of classrooms, with at least 5 pupils having to share a single desk and studying in shifts.

“We have many students here. One class can have up to 140 pupils who don’t fit in the class, meaning that 70 study in the morning and the other 70 in the evening. This affects their study time and the quality of education they receive,”

“Six students sit on one desk, uncomfortably. If we got more support from other stakeholders, we can reduce the congestion,” Kubwimana said.

The Vice Mayor, Nyirabahire said that apart from Nyacyonga Primary School, a number of schools in Gasabo district are struggling with high student numbers including the nearby Bweramvura and Kabuye primary schools.

“The district and City of Kigali are doing what we can to address this challenge. We are currently building 72 classrooms and 52 toilets but we need more players and donors to support,” she said.

She said the Government of Rwanda is determined to improve the quality of education by putting in place conducive conditions for kids to study, including good classrooms fitted with all requirements.

According to the Ministry of Education, since last year students at Primary level have to study eight hours per day instead of six hours under the adjustments made at the beginning of 2018.

This would allow students to study more hours, maximize time and reduce idleness which was the case when they were studying in shifts.

The system of studying in shifts was introduced in 2009 due to lack of enough classrooms and too many pupils studying the whole day. However it was found that the system of studying in shifts was affecting the quality of education.