Religious bodies donate land for 11,000 classrooms

The Catholic Bishop of Kabgayi,Smaragde Mbonyintege, and the Minister of State in charge of Primary and Secondary Education, Isaac Munyakazi, during the signing of the agreement in Kigali on January 29. Craish Bahizi.

Faith-based organisations have donated land to government where thousands of classrooms are to be constructed beginning this academic year.

The clerics and representatives of the Ministry of Education, announced this after an official consent form signing yesterday in Kigali.

The development is a response to the recently signed $200 million (180bn) project between the World Bank and the Government that is expected to advance quality of education through a wide range of interventions including constructing more classrooms.

During the event, officials also argued that availing land will help to address overcrowding in schools, long distances made by students to school, shortage of extra-curricular activities resources, and high student-to-teacher ratio among other factors that affect education quality.

According to Isaac Munyakazi, the state minister in charge of primary and secondary education, the project is also expected to help phase out the double shift programme in schools.

“We are going to construct 11,000 facilities including classrooms and latrines, and these facilities I believe will help us bridge the gap of overcrowding in schools and overcrowding in schools” he said.

Munyakazi also pointed out that even though there was budget for construction, there was still a challenge of insufficient land.

“We worked with faith based organisations to see whether they could voluntarily avail this land for construction. Now all the resources are available and construction starts effective this month” he reiterated.

The World Bank project is a 4 year deal that consists of three main components including enhancing teacher effectiveness for improved student learning, reducing overcrowding and distance to schools and strengthening institutional capacity to support teaching and learning.

Besides the 11,000 classrooms, the project is expected to finance the construction of approximately 14,680 latrines, which contributes to 50 per cent of the required infrastructure.

Speaking on behalf of the faith-based organisations, Bishop Smaragde Mbonyintege told The New Times that the land donated will mainly help address overcrowding in schools.

Overcrowded schools bring forth a number of detrimental effects that affect both student and teacher performance, he said

“For instance in Muhanga district, you can’t find a school whereby a classroom has fewer than 50 students. We know that with such a number of students in schools, a teacher might not be able to have a one-on-one interaction with students that actually need assistance”.

Mbonyintege also highlighted that cases of indiscipline amongst students are usually high in overcrowded schools.

“Students can easily huddle together to misbehave behind the teacher’s back thus hindering student performance”

For Kidwai Huma, task team leader and a representative from the World Bank, this is contribution from faith-based organisations it is of the essence that students have ample learning space.

“Unless we ensure that students have enough learning space, we can’t not be sure that they will learn appropriately”

Africa reportedly has the largest return on education of any continent, with each additional year of schooling raising earnings by 11 per cent for boys and 14 per cent for girls. But, according to the World Bank, issues of access and quality loom large; with about 50 million children not in school at all.

The World Bank project is a concessional loan that will be paid in 38 years, with a grace period of six years.

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