Some teachers have voiced their concerns over what they say are discrepancies between the school calendar and the curriculum.
The school calendar has 39 weeks a year: The first term has 10 weeks, the second 15 and the third 14.
An example is the syllabus for Biology in S.3, which dedicates 190 periods in which the teacher has to teach all the content in the syllabus.
Mathematically, when one divides 190 (periods) with 4 (the number of periods Biology takes in a week) one get 48 weeks needed in a year to cover the subject. With 39 weeks available for studying, there is a deficit of 9 weeks.
Teachers still say that not all the 39 weeks are purely for studying.
The director of studies at Glory Secondary School in Gasabo District, Emmanuel Rugwizangoga, says they set aside three weeks for revision, exams and report card preparation.
“The first week is for revision and the last two weeks every term are for doing examinations and report card making,” he said.
If every term loses three weeks in revision and examinations, nine weeks are deducted from the 39.
With 30 weeks of studies, a biology teacher needs 18 more weeks to deal with the full syllabus with the students.
Florian Rutiyomba is an officer at Rwanda Education Board (REB) in the department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning Resources.
He admits that there could be errors in the curriculum but it was not difficult to abide by it until a revision is carried out.
“A teacher may adjust accordingly, depending on the workload but in five years’ time it will be rectified,” he said.
Jean-Pierre Singirankabo teaches Mathematics at Groupe Scolaire Kamabare in Bugesera District, Eastern Province while Dominique Barahira teaches Biology at Gabiro High School in Gatsibo District.
The two acknowledge the challenge posed by the school calendar and the curriculum but say they employ their own tactics.
“You can’t depend on the syllabus alone, you could end up failing to work efficiently,” Barahira said.
“First, you consider the level of understanding of your class. For example, you place slow learners next to quick learners”.
He explained that quick learners help the teacher to pull the slow learners along to realise the required pace for covering the curriculum.
According to Barahira, when it doesn’t work out you arrange early morning and late evening classes and maximise other available hours.
However, Rutiyomba rejects the idea that nine weeks are deducted from 39 for revisions and examination.
“There are only three weeks deducted a year for exams and making report cards; one week a term, if teachers followed that, all subjects could be covered on time,” Rutiyomba explained.
“REB set the curriculum in accordance with UNESCO minimum periods in class which spells at least 900 periods a year,” he said.