Following the ministerial directive that no child under 10 should be allowed in boarding schools, parents have reacted differently as to whether boarding or day school is a better choice for infants.
This was disclosed yesterday during celebrations to celebrate the good performance in last year’s national exams by most of the schools in the Eastern Province.
In August 2013, the Minister of State for Education, Dr. Mathias Harebamungu, wrote to all district mayors instructing them to stop children under 10 years from joining boarding school.
“The National Commission for Children (NCC), requested that children under 10 shouldn’t be separated by their families to be in boarding schools, as their fundamental right,” the letter read in part.
“In reference again to letter 4015/12.00/2012 of December 2012, we remind you that no child under 10 is allowed in boarding school. Let all stakeholders help us...any school that will go against this directive, will be closed without notice’.
Parents speak out
Some of the parents who talked to The New Times, liked the idea of not sending their children to boarding school, while others were against it.
Liberata Tumushime, a mother of four children, said children also need their parents education about various things so they should not rush to leave home.
She added that the policy would allow children to enjoy their fundamental right to good parenthood.
“I for one won’t allow my child to join boarding if she is below 10 years of age. Much as we have a busy schedule, we must spare some time for our children,” she said.
Leonard Gakwaya, the head teacher of ORPACRE primary schools in Kayonza district, said he had implemented the ministerial directive, adding that some schools flouted the directive because it compromised their overall income.
“I have had no problem implementing the directive. It’s only the greedy who would insist on keeping infants in boarding school,” Gakwaya said.
“I have since sent away over 80 children and ofcourse lost some income. But money should be a complement and not an end to our noble cause of teaching infants.”
Some parents, however, argue that the age at which a child is taken to a boarding school is not the problem, adding that such children have gone on to be successful.
They said boarding schools embrace the concept of an all-encompassing environment where academics and extra-curricular activities take place in one location, under constant adult supervision.
Emmanuel Butera, a parent, said since it is okay to take infants to boarding school in other East African countries, Rwanda should not do otherwise.
“We are talking of harmonising everything including education in the East African Community. In any case, taking a child to boarding school at a young age has no negative impact. It is a decision that can be revisited,” he said.
Eastern Province schools have been only second to Kigali City, in overall academic performance in the country.