It’s All Systems Go for the new academic year 2014

The academic year officially begins in five days time, on January 6, and schools, parents and students are making the last preparations in readiness to begin official business. 2013 having been kind to most players of the education sector and  also involving some changes in the implementation of various education programmes, everyone wants to be all set for the coming year.
Students board taxis back to school. Education Times/ File.
Students board taxis back to school. Education Times/ File.

The academic year officially begins in five days time, on January 6, and schools, parents and students are making the last preparations in readiness to begin official business. 2013 having been kind to most players of the education sector and  also involving some changes in the implementation of various education programmes, everyone wants to be all set for the coming year.

A spot check by the writer around various schools found that though schools are technically on holiday, there are still activities going on in the compounds. Workers were found clearing the overgrown grass and tidying up. In some few schools, fumigation was going on to prepare the dormitories for the students’ arrival. Accounts offices and the staffrooms seemed to be occupied with a few teachers preparing schemes for the new academic year.

John Gasana, the principal and proprietor of Alliance High School in Gasabo District, explains that schools do not wait for the term to commence in order to get ready.

“It is now that we make arrangements for the enrolment of new students, factoring in the need to have adequate teachers and facilities. We also ensure that the facilities are adequate and in good order and those that are broken are repaired. It is a time for internal planning and readiness for the new term, we only update the Education Ministry on our progress,” he said.

Gasana adds that the administration also prepares a programme on how teaching and other activities will be conducted.

Other schools take time to bring together their teachers for advance planning on how various targets will be met.  Jean Marie Nzabamwiza, the Principal of Groupe Scolaire ADB Nyarutarama, says that so far they have been holding staff meetings with teachers to plan for the implementation of the timetable and to know what is required.

“We draft timetables with the staff with new students in mind. We plan for the incorporation of the new students in time to ensure no one is stranded. All these plans are made before the New Year and before the term begins to avoid eating into the students’ time when they are back in school,” he said.

Nzabamwiza also explained that briefings at the district level with education authorities take place to learn new directives that should be implemented by the schools.  

Planning for the new term and year is not a reserve of the teachers and school administrations, students and their guardians also have to play their part.

Going around some of the stationery shops in Kigali city reveals a picture of new stock of scholastic materials that students and parents are expected to purchase just before the school term kicks off. The same goes for those dealing in school uniforms, especially since the new term brings with it new students.

“I am currently engaged in obtaining school materials for my two siblings at Lycee de Kigali. I want them to have the necessary materials so that as the new term begins, they have no excuse for not performing. I expect that the school’s administration is also making necessary arrangements for proper facilitation of our children,” said Olivier Kanyonga.

“As one who pays fees and cares about the academic development of my siblings, I also hope to see them engaged in more than just academic work, sports and other extracurricular activities are important,” he adds.

In Nyamagabe District, Southern Province, GS Acepter is gearing up to take in students and put them back into the school mood.

“Teachers have prepared tests for the students to put them back into the schooling mood. During the holidays, they were engaged in various activities that took their mind off books, we figure an exam as the term begins will be ideal to make them keen on books,” said the schools’ principal, Virginia Mukamugema.

She added that they also put up rules and regulations to deal with challenges that they sometimes face at the opening of the school term as far as discipline is concerned.

“We have made clear the dates students are expected to resume school, failure to which we will have to send them back home to bring their parents along. We have advised them to travel early to avoid transport inconveniences.

“This being a boarding school, we are also already in the process of procuring food items to feed the students as well as ensure their dormitories and other facilities are in order. Teachers have also undertaken reviews and evaluated the previous year to plan for the new academic term,” she added.

Stephen Mugisha, an educationist and a publisher based in Kigali says though they cannot change the designated curriculum, individual schools can add in some innovations into their programmes that enhance the quality of education.

“Individually, schools can engage in programmes that promote the reading culture in the new academic year. They can also focus on promotion of talents and extracurricular activities to develop learners’ skills,” he said.

In the previous year, schools engaged students in programmes like debate and promotion of ICT which Mugisha says was very beneficial to learners though schools should not take it up alone.

“For the programmes to be more meaningful and beneficial to learners, schools should work with other stakeholders in the education sector like the civil society and government in the implementation of such programmes,” he added

From the Regulation body’s side, Rwanda Education Board has no specific regulations given out every year but there are stipulated guidelines and standards that schools should play by.

“We never give out specific requirements every year but there are requirements that all schools are aware of and conduct their affairs by. It provides procedures of application and deadlines and we expect all schools to follow them,” Janvier Gasana, the Deputy Director General in charge of Education Quality and Standards Department at the Rwanda Education Board said.

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