School heads decry capacity gaps among teachers

A teacher during class at Collège St André in Kigali on Thursday. Photo: Dan Nsengiyumva.

Teachers have raised concerns over capacity hurdles threatening quality education in Rwanda.

They have pointed out language barriers and poor skills in modern technology to be the most challenging.

More than 1,000 head teachers raised their concerns Thursday during the National Catholic Schools’ Leadership Summit that brings together heads and representatives of catholic schools across the country.

The Ministry of Education and the Episcopal Conference of Rwanda were also represented.

Participants were given time and raise their concerns and contribute to how to enhance quality education.

From all nine dioceses, head teachers said that apart from their welfare that has been raised as a challenge for a long time, they were struggling to keep up with modern skills in technology and languages; two aspects that strongly contribute to education quality.

A representative of Kibungo Diocese, among others, presented the most worrying challenges that schools in Kibungo face:

“English as a medium of instruction is challenging to some teachers. We suggest that teachers, especially in rural areas, have consistent training on how to use and teach English effectively,” the representative said, adding that poor skills in technology go hand-in-hand with insufficient resources and limited access to computers and internet.

Some commended efforts being put in teacher’s capacity building by the government, they however added that capacity building should go beyond welfare and touch skills needed to enhance quality education.

 “Trainings in diverse fields can be made a priority. To have quality education, we need good teachers with the required skills,” Father Emmanuel Kalinijabo who was representing Cyangugu Diocese in Rusizi District told participants.

Strategies in the pipeline

The Director-General of Rwanda Education Board, Dr Irénée Ndayambaje, disclosed that there was a yet-to-be-signed new statute for teachers that makes skills evaluation and upgrade an obligation to all teachers.

“Self-training in teachers is an obligation. The journey to equip our teachers well is long and ongoing. The Catholic Church is our main partner in education and has an essential role to play,” he told participants.

In a bid to support teachers from the start, he added that in 2020, the government started paying 50 percent of Teachers’ Training Center (TTC) students schools fees and giving them non-refundable scholarships for Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. The move is set to encourage more students to join TTCs and help them get better qualifications.

While enrolment figures in secondary and primary schools have been increasing in response to the Education for All policy, quality of learning remains a challenge.

With teachers being at the center of reversing the latter, the government has been putting efforts in increasing their capacity and welfare.

In early in 2019, a cabinet meeting resolved to increase teachers’ salaries by 10 percent for all teachers in primary and secondary schools. The move adds to other initiatives in place such as ‘Girinka Mwarimu’ and consistent trainings.

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