Rwanda Education Board (REB) has released its first batch of locally printed secondary school certificates. They include 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.
According to Irénée Ndayambaje, the director of the Rwanda Education Board, it was a major achievement for REB after many years relying on foreign printing houses in the United Kingdom.
“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.
The crisis affected us very much and we decided to find a long-term solution by introducing in-house production that guarantees ownership, safety, low cost and timely delivery,” Ndayambaje explained.
“The technology installed is here to stay. Many generations of students will be served effectively and this is something we are proud of. Also, we invite other institutions which are still printing abroad to approach us to learn how they can reverse the situation.”
Though REB did not reveal the total cost of production Alphonse Sebaganwa, the Head of Department of Examinations, Selection and Assessment, said that in terms of unit production of certificate (because they use the same international printing standards as the one used by the foreign contractors) the cost of production is almost the same which accounts to one UK Pound (approx. Rwf1100) per one certificate, however , the benefits of local production goes beyond the actual cost.
“Working to make sure students get their certificates quickly will have a great impact on their lives as they will no longer miss their opportunities like jobs, applying for scholarships, registering for higher learning, that they would otherwise miss waiting for two to three year or more to get their certificates,” he said.
On the other hand, Théogène Kayumba, REB Director of ICT, said another advantage of locally produced credentials is the opportunities to verify its authentication by using the online platform available at the REB’s website.
“Currently, all printed certificates of 2017 are under this system but we will continue to add more of previous years and beyond. Anyone can have access to it by only putting in the certificate’s serial number, the system immediately tells the user if the actual certificate is authentic or not.
With this platform, we wanted to tackle the issues of forgery of documents but enabling immediate verification when needed”, he argued.
Heads of schools who were invited to the event expressed their joy for getting over a heavy headache.
“One thing I appreciated about 2017 certificates is that they don’t have photos as it used to be. Photos tended to create confusion because people change as they age”, Mushumba Alex, the head of Martyrs Secondary School.
Initially, it took more than two years for REB to deliver final certificates of completion for senior six candidates. REB was giving students a temporary document showing that they had successfully completed secondary school.
Some students said the delays affected their applications to foreign universities as these institutions require original documents.