Why online career guidance system was halted

A teacher interacts with his students at Institut Sainte Famille de Nyamasheke. Emmanuel Kwizera.

After the success of two phases of its pilot in 130 secondary schools, the online Rwanda Career Planning System (RCPS), was expected to be rolled out in all schools but only lasted until the 2018 academic year.

Developed by Kuder Inc., an American firm, the system was designed to ease the way teachers, parents and students asses the interests, passion and skills for students before picking their careers.

The system was seen as a valuable tool for students preparing for lower and upper secondary school national examinations while choosing subjects for their next level.

It would also benefit university students.

In fact, in October 2017, the Ministry of Education said that over 30,000 students had used the system while more than 21,000 assessments had been completed by the users.

In addition, 165 career advisors across the country had received training on how to use the system.

This raised optimism in the education sector as it would establish ignored careers and help policymakers in resource distribution.

However, Hilary Niyigena, a Mathematics teacher at Karangazi Secondary School in Nyagatare District, told The New Times that system is no longer working.

Niyigena noted that they often had issues with internet connection, which he said affected the implementation of the online career guidance system.

This, she added, compelled them to disconnect some computers from the internet and remained with only two connected computers.

Eventually, the school acquired a 4G connection.

“But that is when Rwanda Education Board (REB) changed things. We were supposed to use the codes paid for by REB, but REB and Kuder might have stopped working together, because the codes we had been using were expired and they were never activated again (for academic year 2019,” she explained.

Niyigena says they have resorted to the old fashioned way of offering career guidance to their students, which is tedious and time-consuming.

The Ministry of Education told The New Times that government partnership with Kuder Inc. ended, effectively halting the implementation of the programme.  

“Kuder shut down in 2018, we no longer have a partnership,” Eugene Fixer Ngoga, the Director of the Career Guidance Unit at Rwanda Education Board (REB), said.

Ngoga explained that Kuder was at the pilot stage and that the project stopped at phase three as the cost for its implementation continued to rise.

The Government decided that it would not continue with the single sourcing arrangement, he disclosed.

Single sourcing is practice of using one supplier without a competitive bidding process.

“After finding out that they were being asked to compete with others, they decided to shut down all they had done in all the phases,” Ngoga explained.

The system was being hosted in the US.

Schools improvise

Wilson Safari, Head of Ecole Secondaire de Nyarutovu (ECOSENYA), which is located in Gakenke District, said; “We have now gone back to the old system.”

“What I loved about the web-based system was that the students did it for themselves, answering questions they were asked, and then the system would notify the parent, the teacher and the head of the school about the results, it was efficient,” he discussed.

Fr Florent Nikwigize, the Head Teacher of Ecole des Sciences in Musanze District, said they have resorted to employing more teachers who were trained on the Rwanda Career Planning System.

 “We have tried to employ the teachers who had been trained such that we would keep benefiting from what they had learned,” he said.

Starting from scratch

Ngoga says that government has now embarked on developing a sustainable career guidance system starting from scratch.

They are now developing a framework is being worked on after which a policy will be designed, he revealed.

“The web-based system will hopefully be restored,” he noted.

Ngoga also pointed out that once complete, the career guidance policy will address the challenges that the Kuder’s online system used to face, among them, poor internet connections and lack of access to electricity in some schools.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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