Schools, parents challenge ban on boarding primary schools

As the deadline looms, parents keep sending their children to boarding schools and some even have enrolled them in the first year.
Some of the pupils in the boarding section at Wisdom School in Musanze. Schools and parents have urged the Government to reconsider its decision to ban boarding facilities in primary schools. File.

Schools and parents have urged the Government to reconsider its decision to ban boarding facilities in primary schools.

In 2016, the Cabinet passed a resolution that all schools with nursery and primary boarding sections close to let the children attend day schools because they needed parental care at such a tender age.

The schools were given a three-year grace period to phase out the boarding section.

However, as the deadline looms, The New Times has established that parents keep sending their children to boarding schools and some even have enrolled them in the first year.

Several heads of schools and parents said that despite the looming deadline, they still believe they have a valid reason to have children in boarding schools.

They maintain that even though the government has decided otherwise, there was need to first conduct a survey to establish whether or not it was relevant for the boarding schools to keep operating.

According to the figures from the Ministry of Education, there are 66 boarding primary schools countrywide.

“Most parents prefer sending their kids to our schools because they work far from home and can hardly attend to their kids appropriately. We play their role instilling morals and values are concerned,” one owner of a boarding school.

He added that the school management could keep offering courses as long as it is the wish of parents.

“Parents do not have enough time with their kids. That is the current world we live in today.

Now that we have dedicated our time and means to ensure we give them both formal and informal education, there is need for the ministry to choose who will offer better education between schools and maids,” he said.

Another head teacher in Kayonza District said that while no school can offer better informal education to children than their parents, they had been trying to do their best and were worried that banning boarding schools would worsen the situation.

“The decision would worsen the situation because we even have kids whose parents live abroad or work far. We encourage parents to visit their children often and it has been fine so far as far as offering parental care is concerned,” he said.

A parent only identified as Mukapasika said she sent her kid who is in P2 to one of the boarding schools because she expected good education.

“As a parent, I am still surprised by the decision. It would be better if the government worked on how primary boarding schools could do better other than banning them,” she said.

 “There are times both parents are not available at home due to various reasons. We ensure that we visit them regularly and we have met no challenge so far” she noted.

According to Isaac Munyakazi, the State Minister for Primary and Secondary Education, the government maintains the decision to ensure that all children grow under their parents’ care since the first six years are critical in the growth of children.

“Also children under the age of 12 need parental care, that is why we decided to ban boarding sections in primary schools,” he said.

He added that the ministerial order also gives room for schools to write to districts and give ample reasons why children should be studying in their boarding schools.

“Once there are clear reasons, the ministry will offer the authorisation and this is what we want schools to do,” he said.

Jean-Damascène Harelimana, the vice mayor in charge of social affairs in Kayonza District, said the district has four primary boarding schools and hopes they will have phased out boarding sections before the year ends.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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