Schools welcome Rwf1.3bn funding for maternity leave

Students of Institut Sainte Famille de Nyamasheke in classroom with their female teacher. Emmanuel Kwizera.

Public schools will, starting this financial year, be given extra funding for paying teachers who stand in for female educationists who are on maternity leave.

The Rwf1.3 billion, under the 2019/20 national budget, will be used to pay 4,320 substitute teachers in primary schools and 2,880 in secondary schools, according to the ministry of education. 

During the 2019/2020 fiscal year budget consultations in May this year, parliamentarians raised concerns that schools were struggling to pay teachers who stand in for those on maternity leave.

Felix Ruhimbya, Head Teacher of Groupe Scolaire Rebero in Gicumbi District, said schools were diverting funds meant for other activities to pay substitute teachers.

“Sometimes the school had to pay the substitute teachers’ remuneration in instalments because it did not have enough resources. This demotivated the teachers,” he said. “The allocated funds can motivate substitute teachers and help improve the quality of education to students.”

The school has over 1,000 students in primary, and 270 in secondary.

It employees 19 teachers in primary section, of whom 16 are female, while three of its 14 secondary teachers are women.

On average, he said, about four female teachers at the school go on maternity leave every year.

Marie Alexia Nyirankenero, Head Teacher of Kaduha Primary School in Muhanga District, said that the school has been grappling with limited resources.

She disclosed that the school has nine female teachers and two male teachers, adding that three women went on maternity leave in the last financial year.

“When more than one teacher go on maternity leave, it becomes difficult for the school to be able to cover expenses for those sitting in,” she said, adding that some teachers were reluctant to stand in for their colleagues because the pay was little.

Speaking on Thursday as Parliament passed the budget for the new fiscal year, which started on July 1, Prof. Omar Munyaneza, a legislator and chairperson of parliamentary Standing Committee on National Budget and Patrimony said that; “it is gratifying that the Government considered priority issues, including the substitute teacher pay gap.”

Meanwhile, The New Times understands that, in some cases, some schools were not willing to employ female teachers because they were avoiding to incur ‘extra cost’ of paying their substitutes during the maternity leave.

Since the maternity leave benefits scheme came into force in November 2016, female teachers are entitled to a full salary for a three-month maternity leave from one month and a half previously.

However, the arrangement does not cover temporary replacements for the working mothers.