BY GODFREY NTAGUNGIRA
Rwanda national examination council (RNEC) has been revamped as part of the wider policy changes affecting the national educational sector. Within the Medium Term Framework (MTEF) its activities are now geared towards attainment of broad objectives centered towards producing the critical mass of professionals within different cadres.
These will be expected to be the kind of personnel who will actualize the journey towards establishing a knowledge based economy.
In this line , the five year education sector strategic plan (2008-2012) has recently been integrated and aligned with the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS) document.
It has assessed the suitability of the existing examination system in relation to the country’s entry into the East African Community.
By so doing it has identified the relevant issues for discussion with the RNEC stakeholders that will result in a framework which suits the needs of a relevant local examination system, allowing for change and innovations in the future.
The RNEC in response to such future prospects has developed strategic direction and finalized its new six year strategic and implementation plan.
In this process, the RNEC is making sure that its activities are in harmony with Vision 2020, EDPRS, MDGs, and the MTEF planning framework.
Introduction of science practical examinations
For the very first time in the history of country’s education system in 2009, the RNEC has introduced practical part of examinations in science (biology, chemistry and physics) based on the new subject combinations.
The council identified relevant skills and issues to implement which include formulation of policies, guidelines and procedures in science practical examinations.
Consequently a corresponding number of advanced level science teachers who are preparing for and will conduct, mark and grade the practical examinations have been identified and retained for this new way of examination.
Personalized photographs on candidate diplomas
After grading, the RNEC will also for the first time introduce personalized photographs on candidate diplomas.
Here data includes candidates’ finger prints for evidence in case of forgery or theft, especially in cases of impersonation where candidates have been caught trying to seat on behalf of others.
It is hoped that this security arrangement will help deter corruption cases related to certificates and diplomas.
RNEC and ICT development
RNEC undertakes various massive tasks of registration of students, preparation of examinations, conducting of examinations, marks processing and publication of results, and then orientation of successful students to the next level of education.
These tasks involve processing of large databases and message exchanges through internal communications; and interaction with students, parents or guardians, teachers, heads of institutions and district education officers through announcements among other activities.
In the EDPRS framework RNEC has been developing its ICT capabilities in order to deliver its services much more efficiently and effectively.
This also is necessitated by the fact that the number of candidates increases every year, hence ICT capability to deliver and meet the long term needs and expectations of developing a robust examination system is essential.
Publication of results
A highly secure online system for checking results is desired where students and parents or guardians can access RNEC databases by providing their registration number and then their results are displayed in non modifiable format through web based application or SMS.
The candidates are also expected to register online through an interface that is linked to the RNEC data base.
An enhanced website has been in place for use to publish examination results and student registration details and additional promotional information about RNEC.
The system has the ability to create historical trend reports (annual reports on primary and secondary schools examination results) using the electronically stored data, for use in planning and reporting on the activities of the sector.
Having established a tradition and culture of transparency, accountability and responsiveness in the public service; and having won the United Nations Public Service Award in 2006 for doing so, RNEC goes into the East African Community as a strong, active and competitive participant within the regional examinations body of players.